Friday, October 14, 2005

Happy Friday

Since I was negligent in posting this week, here are a collection of my thoughts and observations:

1. For the bargain price of 3000 euros, you can buy your very own gold-leaf keyboard and mouse from KaDeWe.

2. My grocery store sells strawberry shortcake flavored yogurt--Delicious!

3. I am happy to report that the trend of wearing brightly colored jeans seems to be over in Berlin! Buh-bye!

4. Unfortunately women now think it is acceptable to tuck their jeans into scrunchy boots. Where do I even begin!

5. I had been told that random people would not talk to me on the subway in Germany. I believe this information was not accurate. While carrying my golf club last week, 2 people struck up conversations with me about golf. The next day, while carrying a big bowl of salad, two more people talked to me. Either I attract wierd people, or they can feel my
Midwest-friendly vibe:-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Send Up the White Smoke…Chancellor Angie is on her way

For a while people might have thought Germany was picking a new pope. Journalists have been staked out for the last 3 weeks waiting for any sign about who Germany’s next chancellor would be. News reports showed Merkel and Schroeder in meetings late into the night. There were “grand coalition” meetings, “Jamaica” coalition meetings, “street light” coalition meetings and “8-eye meetings” (between the 4 principal players.)

Finally, yesterday afternoon it became official: Germany has a new chancellor! Angela Merkel, the chemist, daughter of a pastor, who grew up in East Germany, will become Germany’s first female and 8th post-war chancellor. In the understatement of the day, when asked by a reporter how she was feeling, Merkel replied almost confused by the question, “Mir geht’s gut” (I’m doing well.) Ya think!

Her comment was probably and acknowledgement of the fact that she will not have an easy road to travel. Merkel will be governing over a “grand coalition” between the liberals and the conservatives. Liberals will fill 8 cabinet positions. German unemployment averages around 12%. The future of the EU has yet to be decided. The immigration of Muslims to Germany is an issue that has yet to really be addressed. And relations with the US still need to be repaired.

But last night Angie could celebrate! Her party stood behind her, and she won!

Fr. Merkel, as Germany’s new image campaign says, “Du bist Deutschland” (you are Germany!)

P.S. Merkel's accession has caused one more issue: is my fellowship now the Bundeskanzlerin Stipendium??

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Saturday Evening

Though public diplomacy is my official project this year, it is not a big secret that I am on a quest. My mission is to find Germany’s best cheese spaetzle. This morning I am happy to report that I had my first plate of real cheese spaetzle last night and it was FANTASTIC! My initial research in 1997 and 2001 revealed that Germany’s best spaetzle comes out of the Schlecker kitchen in Ulm. Indeed in 2005, I proclaim that the best cheese spaetzle is still made by the Family Schlecker:-)

Matthias invited myself, a friend from Munich and 2 other couples (who he knows from the Berlin blogosphere) to a Swabisch dinner party. I arrived an embarrassing 40 minutes late after getting lost (my raspberry walnut salad was extra tossed by the time I arrived!) But once I finally found the apartment, the evening was great. Matthias’s altbau apartment has great ambience, the music and wine was well selected and the other guests were very friendly.

Now on to what makes the Schlecker family recipe so good… I believe there are three primary factors. The first is homemade noodles. For years I have heard Matthias say to people that making the noodles is “so simple.” Though as the mess in my kitchen has shown whenever I have tried to make noodles, spaetzle-making does require some skill. The second factor is the proper proportion of cheese, noodles and carmelized onion. The final factor is greasing the pan properly so that the cheese on the outside gets a little crispy (like Buddy’s deep-dish pizza crust, for those from Michigan.) Since I have tried to make this recipe with little success, I believe there might also be a special 4th factor, like a spaetzle elf that Matthias keeps hidden in the cabinet. Whatever the secret is, dinner last night was wonderful!

For dessert, Matthias made a baked apple, raisin, almond dish with warm vanilla sauce. I think that description requires no commentary other than Yum!

When did the party end? I don’t know! As Matthias uncorked yet another bottle of wine at 1am, I bid everyone adieu and headed home. Matthias tried to explain that it is not until 1am in Berlin that people decide whether they want to go out and party. Maybe this is what Berliners do, but this American was exhausted!