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« Home is Where the Cake is | Main | Satays, Staff of Life »
Tuesday
Sep082009

Hello, Deutschland


What do you know about German food?


My dear readers, I owe you some news.

Barely one year ago I woke up this page from a three-month slumber to tell you about our safe landing in Seattle, a return from Europe (for me, at least) to the city we thought we would be calling home for a very long time. I'm sure you remember. But life has a funny way of derailing even the best-laid plans, doesn't it? When I wrote those words, for example, we could have never fathomed the storm that was brewing, and the impact the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression would have on our new lives. And we certainly couldn't have imagined that if, in late spring of the following year some work opportunities arose for Manuel back in Europe, we'd be willing to turn around and just like that say goodbye to our new home... But they did, and we did, and that's how we came to find ourselves, one year almost to the day from the last time, delivering twenty-two boxes of household belongings to the port to be put on a freighter bound for Germany, and not long after, stepping on yet another one-way flight ourselves.

In contrast to our move last year, this one was a piece of cake. I already knew all the questions to ask when calling shipping companies, and we knew exactly how and what to pack. Craigslist made liquidating our physical assets a snap, though it was hard to part with so many nearly-new things (including the ice cream maker I had coveted for so many years in Edinburgh!). Unlike last time Manuel went ahead, securing us a place to live and a car and some furniture, so that by the time I arrived the hard work was done, and all I had to do was get over my jet lag. That's not to say it was all easy, though - saying goodbye to my family again was something I would have gladly done without.

Also in contrast to our last move, this one happened very quickly. From inception to completion barely three months passed; in some ways the fact that we were moving didn't actually sink in until after it happened. And sadly, the unexpected nature of the whole thing meant that we didn't have much time left to enjoy our soon-to-be-former home. In particular I regret all the things we never had a chance to do, thinking at the time, of course, that we had years in which to do them. We never went camping on the coast, for instance, or hiking in the Cascades or kayaking in the San Juans. We ate in only a fraction of the restaurants in Seattle I wanted to try. We never planted a garden or owned a share in a CSA (actually that's not entirely true - I signed up for one before we knew we were leaving, and we were able to work it out so that we got four weeks' worth of beautiful, farm-fresh veggies before passing our share on to someone else). We never cast our sails and explored things further afield like Vancouver and Eastern Washington and California and Mexico. And of course we never got a dog, which, in light of how things turned out, was probably a good thing.

But then, there were so many things we did get to do. I got to spend more time with my family than I had in a decade. We got to live in a beautiful cottage by the sea, waking up every morning to one of the most spectacular views in the world. We stuffed ourselves silly on Mexican, Ethiopian, Japanese and Vietnamese food, including so many Bánh Mìs from Seattle Deli I'm sure they'll notice a drop in profits now that we're gone. We had picnics on the beach and barbecues in the rain and glasses of wine against the backdrop of a city aflame in the evening sun. We also got to spend more time with each other than we had, well, ever.

And just as I consoled myself about leaving Europe, I'm telling myself now that Seattle will always be there, home for me in theory if not in practice. And who knows, maybe someday in practice again too.

For now, though, we're installed in a roomy apartment in a hundred-year-old building in a medium-sized city in central Germany (Göttingen, famous for its university and its beautiful medieval center), and while I won't even hazard a guess as to what the future will bring, there's plenty on the agenda. Like getting my permanent resident visa (bureaucracy is the same everywhere, isn't it?), and ahem, brushing up on my German. And taking advantage of the fact that all of Europe is on our doorstep again. And, of course, devoting some attention to my new home - there is, of course, a whole new culinary culture here to discover, one full of zwetschgen and zwiebelkuchen and bratkartoffeln and knödel...

And to think, learning to pronounce them all correctly is only the start of the adventure.

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Reader Comments (66)

Hallo Deutschland.

Goettingen is a mere few hours from Austria, my home, and a culianry dreamland.

Enjoy

The Celiac Husband

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGF PATISSERIE

Welcome in Europe! I guess we are neighbours now, I live in Belgium. if you are planning on visiting and taste the world's most delicious chocolate, I will be happy to join you :o)

Kathleen

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Reading this post makes me so jealous! I can only hope you will enjoy the culinary treasures of Germany as much as I have. Germany is ready to be re-discovered and I am thrilled you will be a part of it! The different regions are so beautiful and unique -- each one truly individual. Although I'm hugely biased, I highly recommend spending time in gorgeous Bavaria-- the people are the friendliest in the country. Oh, and Obatzda IS the yummiest stuff in the world. Let me know if you want my recipe!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

Woah! I certainly did not see this coming! Between the dread of leaving your family and home, and excitement of moving to a place with lots of possibilities, I wish you & Manuel well!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs Ergül

Welcome to Germany und viele Grüsse aus München!

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFlo Bretzel

I lived and worked in Deggendorf in Niederbayern for 6 months during college and absolutely loved it there. We rode the rails every weekend to a new adventure, but there was still so much in Germany that I wish we'd been able to explore. The food is wonderful and we still seek out authentic German food whenever we can. There are so many regional favorites and all are really worth exploring. The Christkindlmarkt in Nürnberg was wonderful, but there are Christmas markets in even small towns worth going to. I'd suggest the Glühwein- warm, mulled wine in December is divine! I will definitely be checking back at your blog often to fulfill my food nostalgia.

September 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Will you change the postage stamp etc on your envelope?

September 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKasumi

Am glad you managed the move successfully, and good luck settling in. I'm rather amused to read all this as well - I'm another ex-Edinburgher (I posted here once before to comment that I was living in the same building where you once did) who's also moved to Germany! The same state, even. I'm in Oldenburg, which is north-west of you.

It's horrible leaving your family behind - my mother helped me move and then I burst into tears at the airport when she left - but every time I keep telling myself I'll get used to it. And I'm resigned, mostly. But it's still painful.

I could live on bread and cheese, so Germany is probably my food paradise, but there's a lot more out there too. And supermarkets seem a lot better than when I last lived here, which is a major relief. (Though customer service is still...mixed.) And sympathies over dealing with the bureaucrats. I'm actually a dual citizen, so no residence issues, but the citizenship is extremely new, and thus I'm having trouble getting people to explain things to me that they assume every German's known from the age of four. Well, I don't!

Alles Gute!

September 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Herzlich Willkommen in Deutschland,
ich freue mich auf neue Posts

September 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Oh, what big and exciting news! I'm looking forward to your new European posts. Greetings from Finland! Have a lovely fall♥

September 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertiina

Herzlich Willkommen in Deutschland! Hope you will enjoy your time here. I follow your blog since a long time and it will be very interesting to see the food and everything else from a different angle :-)))
If you like to visit or to know something about Cologne or Detmold, please let me know.

September 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterYvonne

Dear Melissa,

Don't they say that for every door that closes, another opens? I so envy you the fresh vista and the unexpected (in a good way) that awaits you and Manuel. Life is such an adventure if you grab it with both hands, fearlessly. On a more mundane level, if you ever come across the real recipe for "broetchen" please share it with the rest of us. Chuess!

October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVivian

Melissa, wish you a great spell back in Europe. YOu are a tad closed to the UK now.just across the pond sort of speak.

October 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervalentina

The global move. I have shipped boxes of my life from two countries back to South Africa three times over the last 10 years. Usually less than a year later I always end up back at OR Tambo International Airport, passport in hand and ready to go live elsewhere. Enjoy settling into your new home again.

October 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBordeaux

welcome back to Europe! i can imagine everything because i lived through two recent leaps across the pond myself. the shipping crate, the craigslist, the saying goodbye to loved ones... well, it's great to have you near again! come see us in Lisbon when you get a yen for some 1950s stodge. nah, i'm just kidding (kind of). actually, i need you to come and help me find my cooking bearings!
xxo

October 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSimone

Well I'm from Italy where the food is a dream! But I live in Germany....and i can say it's not really the same........

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Scopare

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