Quin and I spent a long and brilliant weekend with LouLou and Piet just outside of Stuttgart city.
At Piet’s house (a big timber-framed beauty which his Dad Wolf built), we we’re greeted with a 3 liter beer, a selection of local Stuttgartian beers, enough German chocolates for 2 excited children (that’s us!) and a wooden board of wood fired bread and mountain cheeses. Wolf also amazed us by lighting up a Swedish fire log which concreted the fact that he is a magical being. Quin made friends with the log.
For the rest of the weekend we were spoilt rotten, LouLou and Piet made sure that we experienced all things German; traditional inns, wine festivals, beer, wurst, old cars, speeding on the autobahn, big breakfasts, beer, street parties, potato salad, beer, pretzels, cute towns and beer.
In Heidelberg Quin was able to re-live his happiest food memory: Hakim’s Imbiss – A bloke’s old bus-turned-kitchen with attached loungeroom plus plastic outdoor seating. What Hakim will serve you: a small plate of ribs, a large plate of ribs, beer. What Gen will eat as a vegetarian: beer.
A German Market Picnic:
The best way to practice German food words is to go to the local market and buy a picnic breakfast for 4 people. The best way to avoid buying five kgs of octopus and nine boxes of purple cabbage is to let LouLou and Piet do all the conversing.
The lady selling onions was from Piet’s community and bought her ‘homegrown bio’ onions from the supermarket. She looked cute but is clearly the worst kind of bandit, an onion bandit. We didn’t buy any onions.
Wooden barrels were full of olives, pickled veg, marinated cheese and fish. The best thing about this setup is that you can just point and mumble incomprehensible German and still get what you want. Somehow we ended up with a tub of octopus pieces.
The knobly German pumpkins looked like old relatives. Warted and seedy, misshapen but adorable. They’re bought into the house more for once a year seasonal celebrations and less for enjoyment during meals, much like Aunt Mildred.
Mountain cheese (Bergkase) is produced in the Alps and can have a strong smell – so it’s important to brush your teeth well before kissing attractive Germans. Nettle cheese is fantastic, a green speckled block, it leaves no sting but a tingling in the mouth. Goats cheese (zeigenkase) is a divider amongst the people but a fresh one can be strangely addictive.There was so much cheese on offer, they all wanted to come, we let them.
Back home in the magical garden at Wolf and Piet’s house we enjoyed the ultimate late breakfast market picnic. We could now conquer the world.
Instead we scaled the Stuttgart radio tower:
to get an idea of the city’s size and reenact Rapunzel. We got to the 150th floor via the elevator, so no one had to climb any hair – these Germans really are efficient. We took the cue from everyone else around us and ran around taking selfies in which our heads block out the entire view. We figured Rapunzel must have taken a break (which she can do now that she has an elevator) to grab gelato and a beer. This part we could at least reenact while walking through small squares and around churches and ending at a river side biergarten.
At a local wine festival among the vineyards:
it was clear that we were most definitely the only two from outside of the country. In order to cover this up I strategically slipped in German slang phrase I’d just learnt when appropriate while Quin answered all questions (and comments) with ‘dankeshun’. I assume all the laughing meant we got away with it.
All the wait staff were sporting their dirndls or lederhosen while an oompa band blasted some sick tunes, the singer walking through the crowd serenading different varieties of wurst (I assume). We sampled a lot of deliciously refreshing rosé, soaked up by some classic festival foods; plates of currywurst and chips, schnitzel and fries, potato salad, bread rolls, steak and regional onion bread tart ‘zweibelkuchen’. All I can say is “Holla die walt fee, das ist sau gut!”.
When we arrived back home, we became caught up in a neighborhood street party Wolf had organised and spent the rest of the evening with the neighbours talking about varieties of wurst (I assume).
We spent the next morning with yet more feasting and more friends:
The four of us met Natalie to tuck into big breakfast plates at a cafe outside a massive building which someone had clearly modeled off of SpongeBob. My ‘Fit-Fruhstuck’ included muesli, fruit, yoghurt, grapefruit, veggie sticks, dip, volkorn rolls, juice and honey. I was feeling fit and ready for anything.
Quins ‘Americanish-Fruhstuck’ plate was crowded with pancakes, bacon, eggs, maple syrup, yoghurt, honey, toast and coffee. He felt ready for diabetes and a defibrillator. But you can never take his freedom.
Walking over to Nathalie’s apartment for tea and coffee I realised that the word ‘fruhstuck’ (meaning breakfast) is beyond doubt my favourite word. There were also many beautiful historical buildings we passed and I decided that the timber framed building style, so different from Australian housing, is most definitely my favourite style. And just to crack a hatrick, on the way home we stopped in at an old car show and it’s there that I met my number one car dream. Thank-you Germany.
The night continued the flow of exceeding my traditional German experience expectations:
At a traditional family inn in Piet’s community we were led into a dining room straight out of my romantic visions of old time Germany. from the hand bound menus Piet and LouLou picked us out big bowls of beautifully prepared salad, steak and gravy for Quin and a small hand rolled pasta and cheese dish for me called Spetzle – a dish Piet’s grandmother always handmade and packed up for he and his brother to take home. It seems that Granny’s the world over have that special macaroni and cheese magic.
Then the owner saw Piet and before we knew it we were sharing shots of strong pear schnapps. Strong shots of liquor tend to cause my face to turn to that of a shrivelled witch and this did not go unnoticed by the owner who wouldn’t believe I’d actually finished it. Quin also lost his hat (a common occurrence) which led to me learning yet nore useful German. “Vor it mein hoot?” Its under the table of course.
It’s hard to say goodbye when there’s no knowing when you’ll next see friends from across the world. Hopefully next time will be our turn to truly spoil LouLou and Piet with heaps of Vegemite toast, hot sun and snakes. It doesn’t seem quite fair.