Monday, May 26, 2008

Spiel mit deinem Essen!

As (food) shopping (basically the only kind I practice) goes, Lidl (a fairly down-market grocery store chain) doesn't provide for the most satisfying experience: the place smells funny (like rotten chemicals), the food is frighteningly cheap, and though I lack a television, I'm told there are constantly stories about employee mistreatment (a la Wallmart), etc. Still, if you remember last year's Amerika-Woche (America Week - actually an anual event), you might remember how hysterical the place can be. Every week or so they have a different theme (various countries, grilling, beachtime, etc.) and temporarily sell a few related products (both food and random junk). Apparently Lidl is about to host or throw or sponsor (I'm fuzzy on the details) some sort of soccer event and thus, has all these bizarre soccer thingies. My favorite is this package of hard-boiled eggs decorated like soccer balls!
And the most disgusting offering (by far): "black, red, and yellow" (the German colors) marinated sausages for grilling (I keep telling you how much the Germans love to grill?)

Other delights include soccer ball-shaped sugar packets, sprinkles in the colors of major European soccer countries (Germany, France (star-shaped fourth of July cookies!), or Italy (aka Christmas colors)), or soccer ball chocolates that come in a little cardboard playing field with a little plastic player... like Foosball only, less functional!

And while we're talking about Lidl, I just used my last bag of marshmallows (leftover from Amerika-Woche last year) for a batch of Rice Krispy Treats (thanks to the recent acquistion of Rice Krispies and other things I can't find in the Fatherland when the 'rents were here earlier this month). Maybe it's because my German has gotten so much better, but this time I noticed the highly comical instructions for how to make s'mores (including how many centimeters to hold the marshmallow away from the heat source and a warning (Achtung!) not to let children eat the hot marshmallow before it cools for three (I think that's what they specified - I've already thrown away the bag!). Anyway, the Germans found the Rice Krispy Treats highly amusing ... if not highly delicious (but they taste like American childhood to me, so I'm happy to have them for myself!).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Do the Heirat! (und der Einbruch)

It took me a long time to come to terms with my civil ceremony marriage. I thought I was more level-headed (and so I've been told), but officially getting married months before our actual wedding (as many Germans do), felt wrong and certainly didn't match up with any of the (admittedly Hollywood-originated wedding images in my head). We were getting married for all the good old-fashioned reasons, but with my visa running out, we had to be about it. Scheduling the marriage to suit the Auslaenderbehorde (Foreigner's Bureau -- If crankier, less helpful people exist, I don't want to know about it) may not sound romantic, but I think you'll agree getting deported would have been even less so. (Full disclosure: the other option was to pretend to enroll in one of the local universities: expensive, and it's not as if I need another degree I won't use...). In the end, I've come to view getting married as a process, which whether I like it or not, is the way it is here. We did the marriage part, but haven't had the wedding yet. It still sounds funny to my American ears, but I'm no longer losing sleep (embarrassing, I know...) over how many weddings we'll need to organize on how many different continents (Allison suggested we could pen our own chick lit novel, "Never a Bridesmaid, Three Times a Bride") and exactly what each of them should mean. Anyway, the civil ceremony, conducted in the shadow of Berlin's famous TV tower was surprisingly nice for a government-mandated affair. I find it highly amusing that they pay someone to conduct these ceremonies ... sort of like religious services without god in an office setting with slightly nicer furniture and light fixtures. The godless priest/minister/rabbi also spoke crazy fast and thanks to my slightly fluttery state, I couldn't tell you what she said to to save my life, though I do remember she recited a poem that I couldn't understand. I have to add that it seems on the cruel and unusual side to have to sign documents written in a foreign language during your the ceremony. I've possibly sold myself into white slavery...I really don't know. I do, however, have relatively full recall of the after-picnic (I'm always tuned into what matters): we retired to the closest green spot, a churchyard across the street where we drank delicious sparkling Riesling alongside a selection of fairly ugly sample gravestones, and enjoyed a few nibbles snagged during a marathon Saturday market session -- pictured here (and look, I got a nephew - the kid picnics with the best of them) and the perfect spring weather. In the evening, we had a little family and witnesses (unflowery German version of maid of honor/best man) gathering at home ... cold side of salmon and grilled spice-rubbed pork loin with tzatziki sauce, arugula salad with grilled marinated mushrooms and shaved Parmesan, asparagus vinaigrette, potato salad with herbed homemade lemon mayo, rolls, and strawberry shortcake. All's well that ends well, but let's just say this was good reminder that catering your own party is not the same as catering someone else's party ...

If Tuesday was the high point of the week, Friday might have been the low. I returned home to find bash marks on our front door and that the key no longer worked. I called mein Mann (formerly known as mein Freund) who ran home, and the neighbor helped us bash in he door (which hadn't really been locked, but slammed extra hard). Who knows what the perpetrator thought when s/he burst into our studio apartment adorned with at least seven bouquets of flowers (the Germans are into flowers and we were given a lot this week), but s/he took a fancy to my relatively new laptop (though not to my passport or (new, borrowed, and old) civil ceremony jewels, which were lying in plain sight) (or to the fridge full of tasty civil ceremony party leftovers). I was going to take a picture of my bashed in door, but then I realized my camera was missing. Hmmmm. The camera was so prone to bouts of nonfunctioning, I *almost* pity whoever ends up with it.