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. 

Hiding behind the curtain

photo (1)

A topic that I find myself thinking about when considering what to write about here has to do with the ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain‘ line that I’ve had on this blog since I started it. See, I’ve talked with plenty of people about online privacy and blogging and how much of yourself you choose to show in general.

Since this isn’t an academic exercise and I needn’t support my ideas with credited sources, it means that most of what I write here is anecdotal. I tell stories without bothering to look up where I originally read or heard the kernel of knowledge that began me thinking about whatever topic I fancy.

Facebook seems to be a constant privacy concern for some Germans, partially because it seems like every other month there’s an article in the media here about how someone’s personal business has been displayed for everyone to see because of the big bad social media giant. I dealt with this a bit when I wrote Why do people take the wrong things about Facebook so seriously?

My position on all of this privacy stuff, though, is that you can determine how much of yourself you show online. If there’s something embarrassing out there about me, I tend to want to be the one to talk about it.

That’s probably why I share so little of my personal life here or on other forms of social media. I reshare ridiculous things and see most of social media as a place to curate the best things I find on the web. If I’m creating content with my name on it, I tend to be cautious. Probably too much so.

So, that’s where my thoughts are this Easter season. I see this blog as a kind of calling card for my personal writing and my hope is that my personality comes out in the writing even if I’m a bit reserved. The criticism I often hear is that I could show more of myself here and on social media in general.

If I were to do so, it seems like I’d have to come out from behind the curtain. Might even have to take that line down off the front of the blog. Hiding behind the curtain has had its advantages, so don’t expect too much right off. Many things still belong in one’s private sphere.

As with so many things, it’s simply a matter of balance.

no matter what wanderlust comes upon me

IMG_3494

Ella at Vogelsang above Bayrischzell

The sun has made an appearance after a long winter, and it’s time to go outside.

If you know anything about my dogs Ella and Louis, you know that means we’ll be going up up up. They love to hike in the Alps, and I don’t blame them.

In the last few days, I’ve heard multiple people remark on how fortunate we are to live when and where we do. Although I know not all of you are situated in the Bavarian capital, I can assure you that part of the point of this blog is to give you a glimpse of what it’s like here.

Having recounted it many times, I almost feel it’s unnecessary. However, some of my readers are new, and others haven’t been here for a long while, so here goes:

I lived here as a small child and as far back as I can remember, I desperately wanted to return. There are plenty of other beautiful places here in Germany, but no matter what wanderlust comes upon me, it’s back home in Munich that I find myself.

'A Hund ist er scho...'

‘A Hund ist er scho…’