Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ice, a non-existant commodity

Dr Pepper freeze pops, sounds amazing

Since I've come to Germany and have been getting decidedly fat, I saw it fitting that I should make a post about some of the common foods that are popular here--especially at the work canteens.

All the stereotypical German stuff is pretty popular, schnitzels being the most popular, as well as the various  kinds of wurst--bratwurst, curry wurst, etc.  There are always some kind of "cooked flesh" available, whether it's pork, turkey, beef, or lamb.  Gyros are also quite popular but not the sandwich wraps common in America, they're just small pieces of meat with tzatziki sauce.  I almost forgot to mention that every one of these dishes will typically be slathered with a mountain of french fries or some other cooked style of potato.  If the Germans could be represented by any staple vegetable it would definitely be the potato--just as the Americans could be represented by the corn.  The Germans seem to use the potato for everything: noodles, croquettes, stuffing,  pancakes, you name it.  There are vegetarian things out there as well but I haven't paid much attention to them myself so I can't really comment.  

So you arrive in Germany and go to a restaurant or anywhere with some food and you decide you want something to drink.  Want something with ice?  Too bad, it doesn't exist.  Want something cold?  You have about a 50-50 chance of finding a cold beverage unless it's beer--but ice?  Not a chance.  It seems a bit strange that something so ubiquitous and common in America like ice is the complete opposite in Germany.  However, given that the Germans seem to drink only carbonated / mineral water, I can kind of understand why they don't have or use ice.  They aren't going to use the mineral water to make ice cubes, and they probably aren't going to use tap water either.  Large refrigerators with freezers also seem to be a rarity, so perhaps an ice-less society is at least some part cultural.  

Look at all that delicious water deposit crust, yum :9

Now that I've mentioned tap water--I must say the stuff is nasty.  Having lived most of my life in Arizona where the water is classically "hard," the water in Germany makes Arizona's water seem like jumping into a fresh bin of snuggles laundry.  If you were to pour yourself a glass of German tap water the glass would probably be full of cement after the slightest bit of evaporation.  Showering feels like you're picking up a "residue" from the water and clothes washed in the laundry machine come out stiff as a board after drying.  I can't fathom drinking the stuff (unless in dire straits) let alone making ice from it.  Although the tap is foul, there is thankfully a great selection of clean beverages to choose from such that you would never need to find out what pure unfiltered Earth tastes like.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Life update: minor operation

A cat-obsessed car owner.

Not too much to report as of late.  Today I had a surgical procedure performed on my eyelid (Chalazion removal), meaning I got to experience the so-called "socialized" healthcare system in Germany--which is surprisingly not that socialized as I still had to pay about 80 euros for the (~10 minute) surgery and 5 euros for some antibiotic cream.  I guess these rates aren't too bad but you'd think these things would be free after paying insane amounts of money for health insurance every month.  I had to wait 2 hours to have the procedure done as well (what's the point of making an appointment if the set time means nothing?).

I guess the operation went OK--received an injection of local anesthetic below my eyelid, however, I don't think they waited long enough for the anesthetic to kick in because I felt everything.  The incision and cuts were extremely painful but thankfully the operation was finished quick.  I just had to hold a bloodied bandage over my eye for 10 minutes and then I was good to go and allowed to wander the streets looking haggardly.

Some awful sounding juice at the grocery store.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Giant rats in Germany

Was invited to a family's home the last weekend for dinner which was enjoyable.  They owned a nice property with a yard that extended to a small river in their backyard.  Their yard was full of birds and animals--families of pheasants would come up to the windows and beg for food.  They had a flock of chickens and a rooster penned up as well--which was of note, because when we went to eat dinner, which included a meat stew--I assumed the meat was chicken as stews in the US are usually either chicken or beef and this stew had what looked like chicken legs in the dish.  You can imagine my confusion when after having a bite, there was a large amount of "crunch crunch" and finding the meat full of small bones which looked like nothing I've ever seen in a chicken.  To my relief I later found out after the meal that the meat wasn't chicken but was actually rabbit.  Well, now I can sleep easy knowing that I won't find tiny vertebrae and shoulders the next time I eat at KFC.

Parent and baby in tow

I've been spotted

The area also seems to be infested with giant water-dwelling "rats" or specifically Nutria.  These 22 lb rodents don't seem to fear humans as they will walk right up to you and brandish their nasty yellow buck teeth and size you up with their beady eyes, perhaps to see if you'll be a tasty treat or likely their just begging for handouts.  I believe they were once farmed for their fur pelts but I from what I understand they are protected now (?).

One other topic I've been wanting to mention is that here in Germany, there is a rather ingenious type of plant "pot" that can be bought from a company called, Lechuza (Spanish for owl).  What makes these planters great is that they are engineered with built-in water reservoirs and water-level gauges so that you will never have to wonder whether the plants in your need watering or not.  You can just take a look at the gauge, if it's low, top off the tank and you'll be set for a week or two.  This really allows plant ownership to be an extremely low maintenance concept and there's less likelihood of killing the plant by forgetting to water it.  Plus, the planters look great too!  I'm not really one to keep plants due to the aforementioned issues, but I think I could handle having one if I owned a Lechuza planter.  Lechuza should send me a planter for writing this glowing review *hint hint*.