Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Die (Aus)Wahl von Keks

As has been widely pointed out, the recent German election was a bit on the dry side. (Barely related side story: I hung out (briefly) with Roger Cohen at the reception following a foreign policy panel discussion I attended this week (making him my second New York Times columnist sighting in Berlin! He was next to me in the buffet line and asked me what I did for a living. I think I was the only non-politics person in the room (if you don't count that silly bachelor's degree or my brief stint saving children) and he seemed rather amused to talk about something besides the boring election). In any case, there was an election going on here. I suppose it wasn't all that different from elections at home, except that we didn't get phone calls during dinner from Bill Clinton (or Merkel for that matter) and because we don't have a television we were't subject to nonstop political ads (though I hear they are not so pervasive here). There were a lot of posters up around town for the various parties. Mostly they serve to illustrate that German politicians do not use stylists (or it would seem, professional photographers). One poster in particular illustrates the ability of the German people to take some things more lightly than Americans. This poster displays the cleavage of Chancellor Angela Merkel and another politician from her CDU party, claiming: we have more to offer. While I can't say that I find this poster particularly convincing, remember what a fuss they made about Michelle Obama showing her arms?! (In the end, she lost.)

For the most part, I leave the German politicking to mein Mann, but I did see fit to make one (fairly neutral) contribution to the election. We went to a little election party to watch the results come in (Germany only has one time zone (and only tiny scandals) so you can actually find out the results and then go have dinner!). I brought along some election-themed cookies - the different sprinkles represent the colors associated with the four main parties. Freakily enough, most of the red (red being the color of the SPD, which lost badly) cookies turned out really poorly (weird holes in the centers and melting around the edges) and yellow (of the co-winning FDP) turned out perfectly. Hmmmmmmmmmm....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Julia auf Deutsch

Julia Child and I go back a long way. I haven't cooked my way through any of her books (or anyone else's for that matter, though I sometimes wish I had that kind of patience and didn't always feel the need to make something with whatever I think I need to use up in my fridge), but she was on my Sesame Street-Mr. Rogers rotation, and I continued to watch her shows long after Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers had faded from my television screen. Thanks to a roommate/friend who worked at the American History Museum, I was able to visit her kitchen before the exhibit opened in DC and I got to hold her balloon whisk. It's true: I have photographic proof and a witness.

I moped around for weeks because I was sure "Julie & Julia" wouldn't be playing in Germany -- nobody in Europe has any idea who she is. Of course, they are familiar with Meryl Streep so, to my delight, the movie is showing in Berlin after all. I moved here with my DVD of "The French Chef" in tow (naturally) so mein Mann had already been persuaded of her charms and did not even need to be begged or bribed to come along. So there we were last week, sitting in the theater and waiting for the movie to start when it occurred to me I hadn't double checked that the movie was in English (for reasons I have yet to fathom, most movies here are shown dubbed and only a few theaters show the original version). I had stupidly assumed the film would be in English because who would want to hear a dubbed version of Meryl Streep's spot-on imitation of Julia's voice? A small handful of Germans who have no idea what Julia sounded like anyway (or Meryl Streep for that matter because these people always go to see the dubbed version) that's who. I panicked. For about 2 seconds I thought maybe I could sit through it in German...the story is the same right? And it would be good German practice, no? Much to the bewilderment and irritation of mein Mann I announced that I had to leave. He could stay, but I could simply not bring myself to see Julia in German. Much to my satisfaction, after we finally saw Julie & Julia this week in the lovely English language, mein Mann pronounced that we could never have seen it auf Deutsch. Ha!

In other news, I have a new bike so last weekend we took it out to the country for a spin. It was one of the last (sigh) really nice days of the year and it was a lovely bike ride other than the fact that it was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to long for someone who had only ridden a bike once in the last two decades or so. I am now fully recovered, though, and can say that it was totally worth it because along the way we discovered countless plum trees (the sort my family calls Italian prune plums, but I understand are also known as damsons and in these parts, Zwetschen), as well as an apple orchard at the Cloister in Chorin (actually we knew this was there, having stumbled upon it last year - you may recall my adventures in making 100 or so tiny jars of jam?). The bike was even less fun to ride with saddle bags full of fruit, but the apple cake I made last Sunday and the particularly delicious plum jam I made yesterday (plum chutney, brandied apple butter, and a sour cream apple pie to come) have a way of helping me forget that part