Goethe’s dapper collection of well trimmed bums

 
Have walked by this statue countless times, normally at night, and never paid much attention to who it was. 

Sure enough it’s Goethe. Who?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. You know him, right? 

I associate him with Weimar. I’ve written about him elsewhere, and I’m sure I could riff on him here if I put my mind to it. 

But here in Munich? There is a Goethe Platz, but this statue is nowhere near that. And Goethe Straße cuts right through the Bahnhofviertel (train station quarter)…so there are things here named after the guy, but why his statue looking over this little park right off of Sonnenstraße?  
Wonder what the old guy would have thought were he actually looking down upon the park on this unseasonably warm day in Munich. 

There were a few people sleeping rough in the middle of the day. That was less than inspiring. 

One or two suits were taking a break from their nearby office jobs. 

And the most curious thing on display at the feet of Uncle Johann? There was a barber offering free shaves to the homeless. No, I’m not making this up.

I watched him saunter up to a park bench full of ne’er-do-wells and he politely introduced himself as a professional of the hair cutting arts. The disdain that they’d first greeted him with quickly disappeared. 

Without hearing their exact words, one ragamuffin spoke for the whole bench. ‘Let me get this straight,’ his body language communicated. ‘You want to give each of us a shave? Free of charge? Just out of the kindness of your heart?’

That was it. 

No tricks. No bait and switch. 

What only a short time before had been a motley crew was oddly transformed. I imagined Goethe smiling wryly as I walked away from his dapper collection of well trimmed bums. 

Somehow empty without her 

 
Joking about the statue having her own action figure on social media, I got plenty of questions about exactly where she was.
At the entrance to the western side of the Ludwigsbrücke that goes over the Isar River in Munich there are several pylons, each of which has its own statue. There are two pylons on the other side of the street, and this one’s twin was destroyed in 1944. 
Early Saturday morning before the city had awakened, I was walking in the silence. Upon looking up, I saw her poised with her legs crossed. Wondering to myself what her story was, I did the most cursory of internet searches and found this:

Elmar Dietz sculpted the Allegory of Art, which was completed in 1979. 

Really? I was a bit surprised she hadn’t been sitting pretty facing away from the river for much longer. This spot must have seemed somehow empty without her. 

There’s so much you miss if you forget to look up

  

While waiting for public transport earlier, I looked up & this is what I saw. Tell me what’s wrong with this again. Nothing, I tell you. 

This is coincidentally where I was standing last summer after the German national football team won their fourth World Cup. What a night that was. 

Back to normal, though. Isn’t it nice when normal can be so alluring. 

It’s going to be a great springtime & apparently summer’s not too far off. Never too terribly hot here, thankfully. 

When in doubt, look up. There’s so much you miss if you forget to look up

I ate the Donut Burger, so you wouldn’t have to

Food trucks have made their way to Munich. They’re not quite brand new, but they’re relatively fresh on the scene.

So, there was an event today called Circus of Food, and there I was with Ella and Louis wandering from food truck to food truck trying to make the most of my choice. What delicacy shall I partake of that’s been prepared in the back of these shiny mobile kitchens?

I know these things are all the rage back in the US, and I’ve seen my share of them in Austin, as well as in many places I was while visiting family. And I’ve been eating tacos out of food trucks as far back as I can remember.

That they’re all the rage here now is no great surprise. I’ve been to a few events where the topic was presented and discussed. Apparently, the bureaucracy of getting permission to have a kitchen on wheels was initially prohibitive, but clearly the powers that be have come round. The Circus of Food was teeming with such a variety of food.

I’d had quite decent barbecue on other occasions & they’ve even managed to learn how to make a decent burrito here these days, but I’ve had those things before. I wanted to try something new. What delicacy would catch my eye?

A quick search for mentions of Circus of Food in Munich had me looking at photos of the usual suspects. I was scrolling through said images & then I came upon something both intriguing and a little repulsive.

A Donut Burger.

You heard me right: a burger, in this case slathered in bacon and cheese, but instead of a bun, they’d substituted a doughnut. Wait, what?

That’s right kids. Two of your favourite things that have no business being together – yet there they are. It seemed so decadent.

Didn’t that Anthony Bourdain guy tell us we’ve got to be adventurous when it comes to trying food? They say that a mix of sweet & savoury is one of the secrets to a great recipe. This was the ultimate sweet thing thrown together with some quite delicious savoury. What could possibly go wrong?

In a few short moments, I went from thinking this was some sort of abomination of culinary experimentation to thinking it was a stroke of pure inspiration. ‘Why not?,‘ I heard myself muttering. It’s simply got to work!

Although they’d run out of doughnuts at the advertised place, they convinced me to go procure one elsewhere. ‘Hol ein Donut ab, und wir machen ein Donut Burger für dich (Go get a doughnut & we’ll make you a Donut Burger,‘ she offered. Suddenly, I desperately needed a doughnut.

To say I was channeling my inner Homer Simpson would not be an overstatement. A doughnut would be mine. Luckily, there was a food truck on the other side of the Schlachthof where they had all manner of doughnuts. A jelly-filled one was out of the question, though. A plain cake doughnut seemed too bland, so I went with an unassuming glazed specimen of a doughnut.

Upon presenting my find to the woman back at the original food truck, she glowed with delight. She’d seen my kind before: the unitiated. I had huge eyes like a child coming downstairs on Christmas morning. What could go wrong? This was going to be good.

Alas, it was exactly that curious mix of sweet and savoury that I’d expected. It was everything the original photo had promised. Though the doughnut itself was an excellent variety and the burger above-average, as well, these are two foods that probably should stay on opposite sides of the plate. Probably even kept in separate meals.

The tastes as I slowly chewed & swallowed each bite were curious. As well as bizarre. Dare I even say: wrong.

Wish I could say it was a revelation of a delicacy. I should’ve known better. There were people online asking me if I’d survived the experiment. They clearly hadn’t been paying attention when we were caking across a Europe. Jelly-filled foodstuffs in Palermo & all manner of cakes here in Munich have prepared me well for such endeavours, but in this case I was quite obviously outmatched.

As I held my stomach & felt myself digesting violently, I informed both my food truck dining companions and anyone paying attention online that:

‘I ate the Donut Burger, so you wouldn’t have to.’

 

they’ve just locked away their goods for the rest of the weekend

  

Reading more blogs about living in Germany, I’m noticing there’s quite a lot of material I’ve not even bothered to cover here. When you live somewhere long enough, even as an outsider, you begin to take local oddities for granted. 

Last week, for example, I was rushing out the door to grab some milk, and I muttered under my breath how much I hated it that there’s no grocery store right on my block. In most central districts of Munich, there’s at least one supermarket, if not a few, within stumbling distance of almost anywhere you might live. 

Where I used to live in Munich’s Neuhausen-Nymphenburg there were not only plenty of larger stores on offer, and even in the side street around the corner was a bakery that had emergency supplies available on Sunday morning in case you forgot to grab something before the stores closed on Saturday. 

That’s another oddity about living in Germany, well certainly Bavaria at least: once places close up shop on Saturday evening, they don’t open again till Monday morning. Sunday is quite literally a day of rest when it comes to commerce. Although there are exceptions for petrol stations and news agents, it’s actually against the law for most businesses to be open on the Day of The Lord.

A bit of a pain to get accustomed to – what with making sure you’ve got supplies for the entire weekend – it’s ultimately a relief to have a day where not much is going on mercantile-wise. People go for long walks or drive to the mountains or talk to each other. Can all of those things happen even when the shops are open? Sure they can. It just seems like there’s more of it going on when most everything’s closed. 

Don’t get me wrong. When I’m visiting friends in London or even spending the weekend in Berlin, I appreciate the longer opening hours. There are certainly times I’ve wished my adopted hometown was a bit more with the times when it came to this sort of thing, but it’s curiously something you get used to. 

When I first moved here, Saturday hours were even shorter. I’ve been told that weekday hours used to be even shorter, as well. Glad I didn’t have to deal with that. 

So here I am in one of the nicest parts of Munich, and I’m complaining that I’ve got to schlep down the hill to grab some milk & sundry items. As I’m going back up the hill admiring the beautiful old buildings that I rarely fail to notice & appreciate, I look in the reflection of a small pond. The tree in the photo above is what I saw. 

Now it’s Saturday evening & they’ve just locked away their goods for the rest of the weekend. Who knows how I’ll enjoy my Sunday, but it won’t be stuck inside some  shop. Might even end up having a conversation. You know, like with a real person. 

Generosity toward the future

My boy dog Louis enjoying the moment

‘Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.

(Albert Camus)

Perhaps it’s a side effect of aging, but I find myself complaining about weather more than I did when I was younger. When I was quite young, my grandmother was obsessed with watching the evening news, and the part that seemed to always perk her up was the weather forecast. For some reason the nightly ordeal baffled me. ‘Why not just look out the window in the morning & plan accordingly?‘ my childhood self would quietly ponder. 

And now? I’ve joined my grandmother in the legion of people who can ignore most of the rest of a newscast if need be, but the minute we hear the weather mentioned, we salivate like Pavlov’s proverbial dog. It’s really quite nice here because the German Tagesschau, which is the national evening news that comes on punctually at 8 o’clock, is rather regimented in its timing. You can almost set your clock by when the weather forecast is coming. Right near the end, you hear the newscaster say, ‘Und jetzt die Wettervorhersage…‘ (And now the weather forecast), and if you’re one of us, a sense of curious security washes over you. 

Why is that? What is it about me (and perhaps you, as well) that gets such pleasure in knowing what weather patterns are headed this way in the next 24 to 72 hours? Even when the forecast is wrong, and my grandmother used to delight in discovering that last night’s forecast wasn’t accurate, there’s still some sort of reassurance to know what is coming over the horizon. 

Is there still some of that obstinate 9-year-old in me who wishes we could just take the weather as it comes? If you look out the window in the morning & see dark clouds, then bring along an umbrella. If the weather turns in the middle of the day, what’s the worst that happens? You get a little wet. So be it. 

I’ve noticed that I’ve banged on about the weather quite a lot on this blog over the last several months. It’s a bit harder in the dead of winter to read that above-mentioned Camus quote and not want to throttle the old Frenchman. If he were still around, that is. 

Yet now it’s springtime. It should be somewhat easier to live in the moment. To watch the flowers blooming and hear the birds chirping and think, ‘This is what it’s all about, right?

A small, steady voice in the back of my head doesn’t miss a beat and answers, ‘Yes, but it’s not exactly summer, is it? That’s when it gets really good. That’s something to look forward to.

Take that, Uncle Albert. 

On the lookout for just such a thing

 

St. Christopher with the blessing of the Christ child

As long as I’ve lived here, I still regularly turn a corner and see something that I’d not noticed before. For example, this sculpture outside of the Scheidplatz U- Bahn station looked completely new to me when I passed it the other day. Grizzly guy with some sort of little person sitting on his shoulder. Wonder where they’re off to. 

One of the curious aspects of living in a place where so many tourists regularly visit is that it can be rather easy to take the city’s beauty for granted. Someone comes to visit & you think, ‘What on earth am I going to show them?‘ 

Soon enough, you remind yourself that a walk through your daily routine would be interesting for someone who’s not here year round. Something I’ve enjoyed about getting this blog back off the ground is that I can introduce some of you to places you might not otherwise see or experience. 

Perhaps the locals reading can even be reintroduced to a few gems hiding right under our noses. I’m always on the lookout for just such a thing.