Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Season- BS style

The Holiday season is upon us now, and seems to be rushing ever closer (as it is prone to do) though here in Germany it has a whole different feel.

For starters Halloween is not a very big holiday here... from what I've heard it only started about 10 or so years ago (which makes sense because when I was here 12 years ago no one really knew about it). Being so new to most Germans you don't find all the candy and costumes everywhere, though some stores did have a few costumes and things. Here in BS we didn't even see trick-or-treaters, so I'm highly doubt if they do that at all. We did go to a "Halloween Party" that a few people in Mariko's lab were throwing. There were only 3 people who dressed up (we sadly had no costumes) and every one brought food and alcohol to share.

There were Halloweeny decorations and we did everything by candlelight (to make it spookier I guess). About an hour into the party, the Germans excitedly asked us what people in America do during Halloween parties (I think they wanted some impromptu games or something)... not having anything on hand that one might see at a classic Halloween Party (Bobbing for Apples, Haunted Houses, etc) we promptly replied "Eating candy and usually drinking". So that is what we did for the rest of the evening. We were introduced to a German alcohol drink called Ahoj... you take a shot of vodka or gin and then pour the powder in your mouth (which tastes like a mix between fun dip and pop-rocks). Then you swish it around a bit and swallow! It was tasty but a little rough.

Next up comes Thanksgiving! The American holiday that tells us its ok to gorge yourself on food all day, just make sure to wake up early enough to stand in horrendous lines and buy lots of things! Seriously though it is a big holiday to spend time with family and close friends. As Germany has no indication of EVER celebrating Thanksgiving (for good reason mind you), Mariko and I were on our own to decide what to do. There were two Fulbright options for Thanksgiving: #1 Official Thanksgiving in Berlin with the Fulbright staff and other Fulbrighters or #2 Thanksgiving with other Fulbrighters in Hannover. Both of these trips would have involved travel and taking time off of work for Mariko.

We passed on both of those options, mainly because we had done so much traveling with my dad that we were a little worn out. So instead we decided to have Thanksgiving on our own the Saturday following the holiday (that way Mariko didn't have to take a day off of work). Planning the menu was a little challenging though. I wanted to keep it as close to traditional Thanksgiving as possible, but make it feasible for us with our limited options, cooking utensils and budget. So our meal was this:
  • Duck- 2.3 kg (5 lbs)
  • Smashed Potatoes
  • Fresh baked rolls
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Canned Corn
  • Canned Peas
  • Sekt (Carbonated Wine)
  • Brownies from scratch
So a fairly good menu, and all for the low price of 20€ ($26)! Pretty good considering we got a lot of leftovers out it all!

Of course after Thanksgiving comes probably the biggest holiday world-wide... CHRISTMAS! And this just happens to be Mariko's favorite holiday!! The nice thing about being in Germany for the holidays is their love of Christmas. Every year each city has their own Weihnachts Markt (Christmas Markets). Now to explain what Weihnachts Markt is like, I will quote my lovely wife: "Weihnachtsmarkt = all the magic of Christmas + all the food of state fair + booze the way only Germany can do it. Best tradition ever."

We went to the opening night of the Markt with a group from Mariko's lab, so luckily we were with some Germans (pros on the W-Markt)! The whole section of the city was covered in little stalls and people... and was dark as they hadn't "opened" the Markt yet. And promptly at 18:00 (6pm) all the lights turned on and the stalls opened up! A great cheer went out from the crowd... and everyone rushed for the first tastes of the Christmas Season!

It was our first W-Markt so we wanted to try as much as we could, but it was also CRAM PACKED so we knew we would have to go back another time to get in everything! Our first session we were able to taste:
  • Glühwein (Glow-wine): The traditional German Christmas drink! It is wine that is warmed and spiced to help keep you toasty in the cold winter season.
  • Kartoffelpuffer: A fried potato pancake!!
  • Hönig Met: Honey Mead! Regular Mead (which is made from honey) that is sweeten with even more honey.
  • Currywurst: Sausage that is sliced up and flavored with a tomato-curry sauce
  • Bratwurst: Self explanatory I hope.
  • Poffertjes: A small dutch pancake like treat... topped with powdered sugar and orange liquor!
Definitely a decent list to start with, but we have a few things that we want to try when we go back! And we have a whole month to do so! I plan on reporting more about the Weihnachts Markt once we have gone a few times, and definitely post more pictures so it is easier to understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment