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Week Four. Coffee Fails. Part Zwei.

The farmer’s markets here are really fantastic. We found one that is a nice twenty min walk (and a quick bus ride back) every Monday and Thursday.

I’m skeptical about their authenticity though... really I'm skeptical about the authenticity a lot of things that seem to service people's idealism (I want a pair of Rowdy Roddy Piper's glasses from They Live to dicipher all the hogwash). This came from the fact that many so-called farmer’s market vendors in St. Louis were middle men, no better than shopping at the grocery store except out in the open air. I mean the reason we all go to farmer’s markets in the first place is to be a little closer to the food we eat. And I think some of these vendors capitalize on that. It’s not hard to figure out that some of the people selling vegetables at these stands have never had their hands in soil.

In the end, we’re just trying to be a little more conscious about what we buy, eat, add to a landfill. Paula and I try and only shop from two ends of the grocery store— on the right is all the fresh produce and all the way on the left (at least in the US) is the wine. We cut out almost everything that is boxed, packaged and vacuumed sealed (minus Paula’s Greek yogurt, and my milk, and anywhere else where it would be a bit weird if they put the food product directly in our hands— sometimes you need a package otherwise the feta cheese would be all drippy and goopy in your hands).

Anyway, it’s always a bit odd getting carrots from Peru when there are farms in the area and we’d like to be a bit more seasonal about our eating habits and support the local farmers who work so hard. It’s a luxury, sure, and the faux-hipster-Portlandia-organic-crystal-yoga mentality gets mocked for being pretentious, but we would like to limit the amount of hands and machines our food passes through— and both our parents raised us with gardens in our back yards.

So we indulge and try to meet the people who grow our food and get the food directly from them when we can. The idea that an apple is picked in one country, then packaged, and then sent off to another country on a ship or plane and transported in a semi truck and then stored and then ripened with chemicals in a warehouse and then put on a shelf, just seems wasteful when there are apple trees in the area. I know it’s probably silly to most, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to be more conscious of and Paula had already been practicing this when I met her fifty years ago.

Speaking of Farmer’s Markets I bought my first cappuccino this week! We were at our local farmer’s market where we grunt and point because my German is sophisticated enough to be able to say “I want that” and “how much that” and “thank you bye” and Paula’s German consists of smiles and nods.

Look at all that delicious bread!

But we picked up some great veggies and fresh made raviolis (with spinach and ricotta) and there was a group of women selling loaves of bread and coffee from a truck and Paula had previously been there and was eager to take me and we got a loaf of bread I picked out (which was a sourdough ciabatta which was wonderfulness) and Paula picked out a loaf (that was sun-dried tomato oregano which looked great and only looked great and still looks great in the bag now stale because it didn’t taste great).

So, we bought bread and we decided to get two coffee’s and sit for a bit after our long day of picking out local carrots and local potatoes and local beets and we needed two coffees to soothe our veggie brains and after last weeks fiasco with Paula’s mishaps at the French bakery ordering coffee I did what any husband should do, and told her to step aside so I could completely foul things up.

Two coffee’s please, I said in German, which I believe sounded like, “blah, blah, blah, blah” to the nice lady. I still am not sure how to order two plain old normal coffees.

She replied, “blah, blah, blah, blah blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah blah.” I knew I had her on the ropes.

“Zwei Kaffe, bitte. Eins mit Milch.” Two coffees. One with milk. It seemed so terribly easy for me.

“With Milk” she repeated in English to show me that she knew not only what I wanted but an easier way to say it.

“Eins” I repeated, hoping she got it that I only wanted one coffee with milk, “und eins Schwartz” (one black, although I’m not sure if this translates and might mean something terrifying. You can’t transliterate German into English. If you went into a store and it’s a sweltering 32 degrees outside and the woman says, “Hi, how are you?” auf Deutsch and you reply “Ich bin heiss” It doesn’t mean “My core temperature is competing with the eye of the sun” but “I’m hot” as in “My body was sculpted by Michelangelo. Would you like to touch my deltoids?”)

“Grosse order Klien?” She asked. Go big or go home (someone once said, I think) We ordered two large gross (odd word there, two gross coffees?)

Both large, I said, or that’s what I think I said (beide Gross)

She nodded and smiled and we paid for the coffees and two loaves of bread. She took our money and gave us change and turned around and said to the woman making coffee “Zwei Cappachunios”

“No, no no no” I said. “Kein Cappuccino.” Normalish Coffee. Eins mit Milch. Nur espresso mit wasser bitte.”

She looked at me with this expression: “Yes. I’m not stupid. Two coffees one with milk. One black. We call them Americanos because American’s can’t do anything authentic so even your espresso has to be watered down. I’m smiling but I think you’re an idiot.”

Actually, she just nodded, kindly, and said, “yes, yes.”

We took our seats.

Two coffee cups came. They were placed in front of us. One large, and one small. One coffee with milk (Wunderbar!!) and the other looked like it had milk too.

Paula said,
“The large one has milk. Why do you have a small coffee? Did we only order one large?”
I said,
“We must have,” and then looked at the small coffee, “this one has milk too.”
Paula said,
“Take the large one then.”
I said,
“It’s okay. This is a cappuccino. Enjoy your coffee.”
Paula said,
“Maybe this isn’t our order”
I said,
“Oh, this is our order alright”
Paula said,
“Shouldn’t you say something?”
I said,
“No.”
Paula said,
“Why not, this isn’t what you want? Tell them. We can get a refund.”
I said,
“I think I’ve said enough. I don’t think that every person who orders coffee gets a completely different order. Clearly it’s my fault. I’m the idiot and I’ll suffer my cappuccino.”

I took a sip and a moment later a large black coffee arrived. Not to fix the error, but as the completion to our order.

Paula was kind enough to get me a take-away cup.

It was the first cappuccino I’ve ever bought and it was damn good.

Late that night Paula made me potato leak soup with rosemary and so everything is good in the world.

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Week Three-- Mission Accomplished

Paula said, casually, while walking past me in the kitchen, "where was that French bakery you read about?"

Nonchalant, a no-big-deal tone, but belying that this was in fact, not just an important issue, but the most serious question on planet Earth. 

But I didn't remember. I had only read about the "supposedly" real French bakery when doing a bit of research on Kiel and told Paula about it, but that was months ago. 

And then Paula got a migraine and headed to bed and I made it my mission to find the bakery as if this would somehow be medicinal for her. 

So while Paula tended to her head, I perused the internet typing in every string of words I could until I found the video that the "Förde Fräulein" posted:

And Viola! Mission accomplished. I found it. Cafe Restez! Located down the street from one of our favorite Farmer's Markets (one of the only ones that we've been to regularly-- but Paula claims to have found a better, closer one-- ) and the fact that we can argue over which farmer's market we like more is a statement in itself of how much life has improved.

So we set out on our journey, arrived and I was instantly surprised and amused by how small this place was. A counter, a couple of chairs and that's it. 

Paula and I were oogling all the pastries and the wall with the built-in ovens.

(a rarity-- there are so many bakeries in Kiel and yet I haven't seen one person with flour on their hands or an apron around their waist, or an oven to bake their fresh bread). 

I went outside to find us a table and when I returned Paula was in a bit of a kerfuffle with the lady behind the counter. Paula had asked for something which the lady didn't understand (Paula only wanted a regular coffee with milk, but it seems like each place has their own name for regular coffee, Krema Cafe, Cafe Luggo, Americano, etc).

The woman behind the counter was so confused as to what we wanted (and whatever it was that Paula asked for) that it started to feel like we were indeed asking for some unique creation, like we were asking for something so strange and foreign we could only pantomime our needs with grunts and gestures. her face seemed to indicate that we had ordered something equivalent to iocane powder blended with fresh unicorn toenail clippings. 

My Danglish proved ineffective, "nein, normalish coffee! normalish, mit milich! eins mit milch, eins normalish, schwartz bitte!! Normalish coffee. Espresso mit Wasser!" She reacted like she forgot who she was and why she was behind the counter. She kept repeating the word coffee like it was something she had never heard of and the espresso machine she was leaning against was an alien creation.

Eventually, another woman came to explain what coffee was to the woman who was so spun up and down.

Coffee was made. Coffee coup de grâce avoided... barely... but we just didn't care.

We weren't there for coffee. 

We saw the trays of croissants fresh from the oven. We were on a mission

We got our coffees and we got our croissants. 

We sat outside.

We pulled our croissants apart. Flaky, buttery. The kind of buttery that makes you wipe your fingers after every bite. The guts, that doughy center was so moist you could literally pull it out in one piece (there should be a name for the center of a croissant... let's call it... Jesus). Paula pulled Jesus out and held it high.

It glowed like the sacred heart. Glowed like the sun. Glowed like the orb of goodness that it was.

         The point is, these are the best damn croissants, not in Germany, but ever (for now).

I have no idea what the coffee was like. 

We left happy. 

On the way back we discussed the obvious, lingering, question....Where were they making those croissants? 

 

There were two ovens, but  the place is too small for a kitchen. There's no place to prepare anything. Yet there was a tray of fresh baked croissants and pastries. An oven, a hot tray, but no kitchen. 

 

I'm so jaded by factory made bread I'm skeptical and worry that all the bread from so-called bakeries is frozen and then baked on site for some faux authenticity.

So there was an oven and there was a fresh tray, but who brought the tray and from where? 

And while considering all the possibilities (maybe they owned an apartment next door where they prepped and baked, maybe they came directly from heaven) Paula stopped in the street and yelled:

"Nihil fit ex nihilo!!"

Paula is right these little magical creations, they have to come from somewhere.  "What we should do" she decided, "is go there early one morning and sit and eat and wait until someone brings new trays. We might have to stay all day and eat all the croissants, but it'll be worth it."

Challenge accepted.

 But until then...Weeeeeeee!

oh, by the way...This is what happiness looks like:

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Landed Safe and Sound

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Landed Safe and Sound

Monday will be two weeks in Kiel. It doesn’t feel like two weeks. I’m not sure what it feels like. We spent six weeks apart and that felt like an eternity. Kiel is quickly becoming home with its cobblestone streets, berry stands (best strawberries we’ve ever had! Taste like jam was injected into each), 8-block long flea markets, great public transportation, meeting up with friends and living one block from a bakery and two blocks from the best Thai food we’ve had in the last three years (maybe we were starving…not sure, but we brought home leftovers and that’s typically a faux pas). 

 

Bicycles everywhere and we haven’t met a soul. We’re just reading on the balcony, going for walks, waiting in day long German Rathaus line (the name suits the line) and walking up the long stairwell to the foreign registration office with families scattered throughout seeking asylum, clearly living out of their suitcases, sitting atop their suitcases.

 

We used to joke that we’re the type of couple who spends an exciting weekend night making a trip out to Home Depot (and maybe if we had time we’d go to Bed,Bath&Beyond—it was a joke, but not too far from the truth) Well, we’re happy to say that we found an IKEA,…so, if you’re looking for us on a late Saturday night, you know where to find us.  

What we haven't gotten used to, what is really foreign and foreign to think about is how light has affected our lives. It's sunny by five am and stays that way until sometimes past ten. We can never tell what time it is and have unfortunately gotten busy and started making dinner thinking it was six, maybe seven to find out that it was past nine.

And the rain, the RAIN comes down at the spur of a moment and sometimes for days on end. It reminds us of a little ditty:

Hello Muddah,
Hello Fadduh.
Here I am at
Camp Granada.
Camp is very
entertaining.
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining
.

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