Foreign food Friday – “Bear” meats

The cliché is true: there are a LOT of sausages in Germany. And there is a niche market for making deli meats in animal shapes to appeal to kids.

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Bear-shaped salami

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Mortadella with a bear print. A bit like Pillsbury cookies for holidays that have a design when sliced; presumably made with light and dark meat.  Hmm…not very appetizing to my taste but to each his own!

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For those who don’t like bears, there’s also bee-print mortadella or a Santa’s elf design.

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There’s even bear-print hotdogs. Now those, we had to try. Can’t say the kids even noticed!

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Grocery shopping in a different country is always an adventure!

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Foreign food Friday

I have an idea to share some of the fun, interesting, and different food items we encounter here in Bavaria. I’m not great about bringing my camera with me while grocery shopping, but if I can manage to remember I think it’ll be fun to share the oddities on this blog.

So, here we go. Some market finds that I’ve never before seen in the Pacific Northwest:

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Artichokes in bloom — beautiful!

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Conical cabbages. Pretty nifty.

Stay tuned — I’ll try to make this a semi-regular feature.

Comparisons

After a month, we’re starting to adapt to some of the changes that come with living overseas. But I’ve been brainstorming about some of the differences.

Things we had in America and now miss having (in no particular order):

  • Crackers for the kids, like Goldfish and Wheat Thins (Germany doesn’t really have any crackers to speak of)
  • Frozen corn (ditto)
  • Retail stores open on Sundays (a forced “day of rest” really makes Saturdays pretty miserable)
  • Television stations and newspapers that we can understand
  • Kirkland  (Coscto) diaper wipes
  • Small Ziploc bags
  • Cheap clothes for kids (does exist in Germany, but much harder to find)
  • One-stop shopping. Doesn’t exist here.
  • International cooking ingredients – hard or impossible to find here (especially Mexican)
  • White bread
  • Healthy add-ons to kids’ fast food meals – instead of apples slices or mandarin oranges or string cheese, in Germany the fast food chains offer CANDY along with the chicken nuggets and fries
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Streaming TV and movies (in English) – Netflix and Hulu don’t work here
  • A car. Nice not to have to deal with parking, gas, and maintenance, but it would be really helpful to be able to drive on occasion for convenience
  • Free libraries. Library cards here cost €30 per year and have limitations on borrowing
  • Teriyaki shops – a favorite with my kids in America but nonexistent here
  • A clothes dryer. And a larger capacity washer, too , for that matter
  • Dishwasher!
  • A shower I can stand up in
  • Target stores
  • Racial diversity reflected in the media. While there is a lot of diversity among the citizens, even in our smaller-sized city, all of the television and commercials are extremely “white washed”. Rather disturbing.
  • Good tasting tap water

Things we now have that we’ll miss in America:

  • Wonderful walking paths, including tunnels underneath busy intersections to make crossing easy (especially tons of ramps and elevators everywhere for strollers!)
  • Ikea, H&M, and other large chain stores within walking or short bus ride distance
  • Church bells pealing on Sunday mornings
  • Geydan Gnamm – a catering facility that offers delicious, hot and healthy meals to go (perfect for nights you don’t feel like cooking)
  • Delicious chocolate (available in the US but more expensive)
  • Beautiful parks and playgrounds all over within walking distance
  • Beer gardens and the outdoor café/restaurant culture
  • Gelato shops
  • Retail clerks that offer candy to kids (this happens everywhere. Sam has learned that by simply saying “Danke” he will be given candy at the bakery, pharmacy, or retail shop) — a bit of a pain for parents striving for healthy diets, but a nice gesture nonetheless
  • Wonderful public transportation systems that truly run on time
  • Small food packaging – love that the foods aren’t HUGE, both junk foods and also things like milk here come in nice, compact, square cartons that can be stacked in the fridge
  • CHEAP utilities – cell phone contracts with unlimited data are only €35/month (we paid $90 in the US) and prepaid phones with data included are even less, and a quality internet/phone/TV bundle only costs €30/month … much cheaper by far than anything we could find in America (we used to pay $180)
  • Measuring furniture in metric – it actually is a lot easier to remember dimensions that are 24x60cm rather than in minute fractions (5 1/8″ x 11 ¾”)
  • Speedy delivery – DHL delivers many things domestically in only a day or two relatively affordably – one of the benefits of being in a smaller country
  • Travel options – how amazing to be able to be central to so many other European destinations. Joe’s students spent their summers in Spain, Austria, Ireland, Greece, etc.
  • Bathroom attendants. Public restrooms aren’t so scary to go in, even for the men (according to my husband), because the attendants do such a good job

So, pros and cons on both sides. Funny that so many on the first list are food-related. It’ll be interesting to see how we feel about some of these after the end of this year!

Playground pics

We found a great playground only a block from our new apartment, and the kids and I enjoyed a day there while Joe was getting his classroom ready. In general, we’ve found German playgrounds to be much better designed for kids of varying ages than those in our old neck of the woods. The playgrounds that would be interesting for Sam were too dangerous for Lucy, and vice versa.

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After a little fear, both have become lovers of the slide. Careful, though, it gets hot!

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She can’t quite move the bouncy toys yet, but she loves to try.

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Sam usually hates shaky drawbridges, but this had nice strong beams to hang onto.

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Not sure what this is supposed to be. A snail?

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Lots of low walls for balancing.

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Lucy tried to run away when it was time to go.

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Surveying the view from up high.

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Love the days when they play well together!

Ach du lieber Himmel

Everything moves more slowly in Germany. We’ve struggled to be patient and adapt to the slower pace. It’s even more challenging when we can’t just call a customer service number for assistance, because they usually don’t have any English speakers to communicate with us. Our internet modem was supposed to take a week to arrive in the mail. No such luck. After three calls to the company by a bilingual HR staff member at Joe’s school, we were able to finally get a modem sent to us in the mail. Sorry that it’s taken so long! We’re slowly catching up now on emails, paying our bills online, and trying to set up all of the other needed German services (bank cards, cell phone contracts, utilities, and registration papers).

Well, we thought that parenting two kids was hard.  But try uprooting said kids, moving them halfway around the world, staying in one-bed hotel room for 12 days, then move them and all your belongings into a 4th-story walk-up!

We are very happy to be out of that tiny hotel room. But we do miss being in the center of the city where there were more shops and restaurants open late into the night and on Sundays. Our current residential neighborhood is much more removed from all of those conveniences.

We miss our hotel elevator! Climbing 84 stairs every time we take out the trash is pretty hard. Not so bad on its own, but we didn’t factor in that we’re usually carrying Lucy, a diaper bag, and several bags worth of groceries when we return home.

We love having a washing machine again. And a fridge, although it’s European-style and much smaller than we’re used to.

We were thrilled when the kids’ beds were delivered from Ikea on August 22nd – we were all pretty tired of sharing one bed.

We love being one bus-ride away from the center of the city. There are four bus lines that pick up from our nearest stop, so we never have to wait very long. Many of Joe’s coworkers have to ride multiple buses or walk a longer distance to get to a stop that will take them where they need to go. Lucy loves the bus too; she cries whenever we get off!

Shopping at Ikea without a car is quite hard!  I’ve made four trips so far, each time coming home on the bus with 3 or 4 overflowing blue Ikea bags. You should see the snickers and stares of the other bus riders as I try to navigate the narrow aisles with my purchases. But although we bought the furniture from the previous owners of this apartment, we arrived three weeks ago with nothing more than some sheets and towels. It took 4 days to buy knives, cutting boards, and pots, and 6 days to finally get some silverware and plates to eat on.

Joe’s been spending as much time as possible at the school, but he wasn’t given much prep time to get prepared before the school year began. We’ve managed to find most of the school supplies Sam needs, minus a few of the bits of clothing required for inclement weather. More posts about the school will be forthcoming.

I’ll try to post more pictures and videos of our new home and neighborhood soon.