Monday, March 28, 2011

Winter missions in Munich

Being over-educated humanities graduates with no real direction, Samuel and I often ask ourselves, and each other: "Just what am I doing with my life?!"

At a pinch, the answer to this question is: finding Samuel's historical relatives. Why I've taken so passionately to this pursuit is anyone's guess, but Samuel's reasons are more obvious (lineage, history, narcissism).

With this life goal in mind, we caught the train to Munich, first to meet and eat with his charming Uncle who speaks about a million languages, scoffed at my inability to speak Spanish after four months in Colombia and charmed us with his stories of a recent trip to Madagascar.

Having met one of his living relatives, Samuel decided it was time to find an old building (now a library) which once belonged to his great-grandfather. Back in 2009, we took a 26 hour bus to the Caribbean coast of Colombia to find his living biological grandfather, so walking down the street to see the home of his long deceased great- grandfather seemed like an entirely natural step.

Of course, we got distracted on the way. First, by that gorgeous Church pictured above and below: St Lukas. Inside, prayers for Japan following the awful earthquake and tsunami.

Then by a riverside park, showing the first signs of impending spring.

Pierre and Samuel sharing a look over something I said.

Below: My Dream House !

We arrive at the library/ his great- grandfather's house.

Samuel with his great-grandfather.

Life goals being ticked off by the minute, we dance out into the streets of Munich with the taste of success and me singing inane songs about Paris (coming up). Samuel rolls his eyes so hard they almost fall out and murmurs: "how is this my life?!"

Exhausted, we fall into a Wirtschaft where I introduce him to Kaiserschmarrn (literally: Emperor's Nonsense, a pancake mishmash with apple sauce) and drink a hot GlΓΌhwein.

NB: Just now, from reading the wikipedia entry, I found out to my horror that Kaiserschmarrn is, in fact, an Austrian invention. Those who know me will know I am heinously and intractably prejudice against the Austrian nation, so this is forcing me to seriously reflect and reassess.

Weisswurst & Wald

Ok, I promise not all my blog posts will be about food & nature, and begin in my Oma's kitchen, but that picture of Samuel was just too much for me to casually toss aside. He wasn't even trying to be funny, if you can believe it. I barely can.

I may remember Samuel from: Colombia, England & Taiwan. Onto country four, Samuel bought a very cheap (40 euro) airfare from London to come and visit me at my Opa's house. This meant a great deal, as none of my friends have ever met my German family, who are too wonderful, charming and downright eccentric for me to really describe.

To celebrate Samuel's arrival into Bavaria, we made ourselves a uniquely Bavarian lunch. First up, the 'Weisswurst' (white sausages). Vegetarian friends please look away. Weisswurst is made of veal (eeek I know! ethics!) and is delicious. It is traditionally served before noon, but that's because people didn't use to have refrigerators. So we ate ours at 1p.m. and didn't even die. It is cooked for ten minutes in boiled water which has been taken off the heat, so they don't burst. If they burst, you totally ruined it. Below: 'cooking' (more like heating) our Weisswurst.

Another classic: potato salad. Yes, I bought it and even photographed my own laziness. Below: amazing Bier from a nearby monastery/ brewery. If we were being really Bavarian we would have had Weissbier, but I reckon Andechs Bier, since 1455 or whenever, is authentic enough.

You need to buy a special 'sweet' Munich mustard to eat Weisswurst with.

And of COURSE: Brezel!

Woohoo! Amazing success below: (note the Bavarian FLAG on one of the glasses, we don't do things by half in this household).

After all that high-calorie nonsense, we decided to take a walk in the woods. Squint and you can see the Alps in the background. Note my fabulous Bavarian coat, and Samuel's not very Bavarian socks. Heart !

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cobbler & Snowbells in Bavaria

Staying at Opa's is always a wonderful opportunity to utilise Oma's (rest her soul) fabulous kitchen, pictured above with Opa in the doorway. After seeing me with the camera he demanded I photograph him, which I was all too pleased to do. Maybe I am blinded by love, but he still reminds me of Humphrey Bogart.

Just as I was serving up apple and blueberry cobbler with bourbon vanilla icecream, my business uncle Christoph happened to turn up. This is the second time he has randomly appeared while I was serving something surprisingly delicious that I baked, and I love it, because it gives the mistaken impression that this is the kind of thing I do all the time.

Little brother Christoph to the Left and Burkhard (see previous blog) to the Right.

After stuffing ourselves with sugar and caffeine, Burkhard suggested I join him and an eco-colleague of some variety for a walk in some woods nearby, notable at this time of year for the flowering snowbells. After asking if I would be bored (answer: no), I happily said yes.

Then I took some silly photos of the top half of my, Burkhard's and his colleague's heads, in that order.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Own Attenborough

Whenever I go back 'home' to south Bavaria, one of the best activities is going on walks with my uncle Burkhard, whose job, passion and interest lies in protecting the eco-systems around here, with a particular emphasis on the lives of birds around the lake. Above, Burkhard in his office. Below, in his real office.

Below: some locals who innocently asked a question and happily found themselves on an intensive tour.

One of them asked Burkhard how ecologically important a piece of shore is; about 30metres long, near his town and currently being discussed as a place for a 'beach'.

Burkhard replied: "Well, about as important as two screws in an aeroplane. The plane will still fly, but if you take too many out, well ... "

Below: late-afternoon in a farming area. Using up the rest of the day.