One of my dear friends also went to Germany a few years back. When she returned, she was all about making pretzels. It was a compulsion I didn't quite understand then, but I do now.
FACT: Germans love pretzels. It is one of their big cultural icons. Germany, I think is the only place in the world where you will see a stroller with a plush toy pretzel hanging down for baby to play with (yes. I saw this.)
FACT: Germans make the best pretzels in the world. Once you eat a pretzel in Germany- like a fresh one, right out of the oven, you will have a hard time enjoying other pretzels again. As another friend of mine, who recently returned from a historic tour of Berlin told it:
"The other day I was at the mall with my friends, and we got soft pretzels from Auntie Anne's. Seriously, afterward I was in a horrible mood. My friend was all 'what's wrong? This is so good!' Ugh. It's just not the same, we don't make good pretzels."
Now I too am spoiled. It's hard to say what makes them better. The skin is um, snappier? And the insides are softer? It's just better, ok?
I forgot to mention that these pretzels are also HUGE. Holding a giant beer and a giant pretzel makes you feel like a kid. Literally because you seem very small in comparison to your edibles.
Ugh! I've been so bad about posting things about the trip. I am just so much better motivated to write about things that happen day to day. Not sure why?
Anyways, Paul and I went to an a.w.e.s.o.m.e concert last night: Fleet Foxes at Mountain Park! It was a gorgeous night, possibly the last unseasonably warm one we'll get- so it was great to get to be outside. Listening to chill music under the stars is about as good as it gets.
The venue was really cool. It was kind of like the iron horse company took a little bite out of a larger outdoor music festival, and planted it in the woods in Holyoke.
Seeing the band live gave me such a better appreciation of how technically impressive their music is. In the expansive open air of mountain park, the acoustic qualities of their music really resonated. It was like the fun of dancing to bluegrass music all shaken up with a choir singing canticle. Really really awesome!
The cat-calls that people were doing during the show were funny too. People shouting "I really enjoy your music!" "You are very talented!" "Honestly, your skill level is really above average!"- It was more like getting report card notes than cheering...but it was funny and cool and somehow seemed to fit the whole mood of the night.
Having gotten to hear a lot of their music live now, I would say that this is my favorite song to hear in person.
The harmonic "ooo" parts just took on a whole new brightness and power in person. If you ever get a chance to see these guys play - do it! It is an experience.
So I had a hard time starting up with these vacation-related blog posts, because the temptation to tell the whole tale in a linear way made me reluctant to launch into the juiciest tidbits that took place later on. But I'm going for it!
Fact: Germans LOVE Mushrooms. And more specifically, mushroom hunting. On the train, the deutsche bahn magazine had a pretty extensive article on the hippest new mushroom hunting gear. Boots, this knife:
An even stronger indicator of this fungus lust took place one night when we were eating dinner in the Rathausglockel Hotel Restaurant. One of the other guests came in, apparently hot off mushroom collecting with an absolutely giant specimen, about the size of a basketball. She asked the kitchen to cook it up for her, and they seemed super pumped about it. Although, that all took place in German, so I could be wrong about what was actually literally said.
It's a pretty big deal there, I guess. In honor of that, I suppose it's only fitting that I cooked up a batch of my awesome mushroom soup last night. Why yes! I will share the recipe.
1tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2.5 cups of chopped mushrooms (any type)
handful of flour
3 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable - your choice!)
salt and pepper
1. Combine the oil and butter in a large sauce pan.
2. Cook the garlic and onion in the buttery mixture until they are soft and transparent.
3. Add the Mushrooms and stir to coat them.
4. Turn the heat to low and cover, cook for 15 minutes.
5. Throw in the handful of flour and stir to thicken.
6. Add 1 cup of broth and stir to mix again. Once, thoroughly combined, add the rest of the broth.
7. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil for about 8 minutes.
8. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
It's a really easy recipe and really does bring out the wonderful earthy tastiness of mushrooms. The broth is really flavorful and hearty. The Deutsch would be so proud! Na Klar!
We made it back safely! Hooray! It was an awesome awesome two weeks that I will think fondly about forever. Paul and I did and saw so many cool things. I'm posting all of our pictures on facebook, but I definately plan to use my blog space to talk some about what happened. Perhaps less of a play-by-play than my posts about the mid-atlantic disaster of 2010, but more of a series of posts talking about what we saw and noticed abroad. SO THAT'S COMIN'!
As a little taste, I figured I'd start with something light. European Fashion Watch!
Everybody knows that all the hot trends of the season come from fancy pants Europe and their ability to dress nicely. I cannot tell a lie - almost everybody over there was dressed very hip, pretty much all the time. There was one big trend for ladies that I saw on women across all ages and body types:
MC Hammer/ Harem Pants!
As universally as they have been embraced by the ladies of the old world, I have to say that they were pretty much also universally not flattering at all. I am sad that this is coming across the atlantic soon......Like a horrible fashion shark of doom!