So we had stuff we needed, which meant today was time to make an expedition to a hardware store. We needed a fan, and we need a way to screen our windows so that m0053 (in particular) does not leap to his tiny kitty death in the street. Or, more likely, fall the two stories to his death. We made a temporary fix when I got here at the end of last summer, but it really only prevents sudden attacks on the windows, and the windows have to be closed when we are asleep or not here. Which, in a land devoid of air conditioning, makes for a pretty miserable summer.
Unfortunately, we have really, REALLY annoying windows for this. There are two sets of windows, an outside and inside set:
BOTH sets of windows have to be open to have open windows. And they both open inward. Which means all that lovely space where you THINK you could put a screen? No.
A screen has to go outside the outside windows. And these are very, VERY common windows, easily half or more of the Viennese windows are like this. KH has firmly nixed any permanent structure mounted outside, he is not going to endanger life and/or limb trying to climb around. Nor will he let me do so.
Ideally, we would just grab a retractable window screen of the right size. It sticks in, opens up, goes in and out very easily. We used them at another house I lived in in the US. They kept the cats in just fine.
One problem. They don’t exist here. We went to the hardware store and spoke to several of the employees. Not only does that kind of thing not exist here, they had nothing at all to offer us for our type of window. Have I mentioned that more than half of Viennese windows are in this style? And yet, there is no possible screen for them.
Sometimes I am really blown away by the European willingness to just accept suckage. A city in the US where more than half the buildings had these types of windows would quickly have contractors specializing in fixing the issue, a dozen different products for remedying the situation, SOMETHING. As it is, I think we’re going to end up importing sliding frame window screens from the US.
What we DID get was bendy plastic cable covers… which we hope will prove stiff enough to keep the screen in, and yet flexible enough to bend so we can pull them in and out without cracking. Those plus insect netting (for the first try), a heavy-duty stapler (for assemblage) and a plastic-saw (for cutting the cable covers to size) will be our first experiment. Oh, and we also got a fan.
And home! On the way, I asked KH if, since we were being so productive, we could take my kitchen knife to the knife store down the block to be sharpened. My German is exactly good enough to walk into the store, pull out the knife, and ask for it to be sharpened. ANY CURVE BALLS WHATSOEVER, and I am lost. Utterly. Which means I need KH with me.
As we are getting off the subway with our hardware store loot, a blast of smell hits us. Right, there is a legalize marijuana demonstration on the big shopping street off of which we live. A GIANT demonstration. KH sniffs the air and goes “oh, yes.” I also sniff and say “SKUNK!”
He leans in with a very patient look and explains we are probably smelling marijuana. I return the patient look, and explain skunk.
Home, drop off hardware store loot, grab knife, put in backpack, head back out. It takes us about ten minutes to get through the demonstration to the knife shop approximately half a block away.
We go in, I remove my beautiful Wustof 8” Chef’s knife from my bag and place it on the counter. She says it will take a week to sharpen. KH offhandedly lets me know, at which point I FLIP. ”A WEEK! NO WAY!” I grab back my knife.
KH: What? You need it sharpened!
Me: I ALSO need to EAT for the next week. How am I supposed to CUT anything without it?
KH: *talks to the woman a bit in German* It’s going to take a week. It doesn’t matter when you bring it in.
Me: I’ll find another way. Another shop, or I’ll buy a sharpener and learn to sharpen.
KH: Don’t be dramatic. We HAVE knives.
(No, no we don’t. This is his entire knife collection)
(note that the large knife is both serrated and bendy. As is the medium knife, for that matter.)
It is obvious at this point that the woman understands English, even if she doesn’t speak it, because she is totally laughing her ass off at us. Also, when I said “I’ll buy a sharpener,” she proceeded to get down a sharpener from the display case. And since I also know my knives (and therefore tended to know at least what she was talking ABOUT), and can get out some German sentences, KH was both required and oddly superfluous.
KH: Fine. We’ll get a second knife. Then you can get this one sharpened.
Me: This knife cost $120 in the US. It’s twice as much here.
The woman goes to the display case and takes down an 8” knife and brings it over. It’s 60€. I say (in German), “That’s not Wustof.” She says no, the Wustof knife is 82€.
KH and I generally argue: about the sharpener, about needing the knife sharpened, about getting a new knife. In the meantime, the woman discreetly slips a cardboard blade cover out of the drawer and covers my Wusthof blade with it. I think she was worried one of us might use it.
Skipping ahead, I am finally convinced to purchase a second, different knife. A Wustof Santoku. For only 60€. It also turns out that “Santoku” is the same word in English and German. At least, when I say “Santoku,” she picks the right thing out of the cabinet.
She completes our pick-up slips, and KH pays for the knife, and then she starts explaining something to him. I understand him saying “EVERY time?” and her emphatically agreeing “EVERY time.” I ask him, “Is she saying I should be honing it?” ”Yes,” he says. ”I KNOW. Do you have any idea how much honers COST here*?” He quickly hustles me out of the store.
I find out later that the whole time I was giving my monologue about “how will I cut cheese? How will I cut bacon? How will I cut onions?” she was backing me with “There is NOTHING like a good kitchen knife.”
Thus proving once again that language is no barrier to that true spiritual understanding that can flourish between two people.
*I deliberately did not bring a honer with me, because they cost $10-15, and backpack space was at a premium. I purchased and brought the Wustof knife because I saw how much more expensive they were here.
Honers in the shops on our street start at 50€. Same as box graters for cheese. I am sure I can find cheaper ones online, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
So KH loves my mac’n’cheese (I admit, getting the Gouda, Raclette and Fontina in Europe gives it a bit of an edge), and my mashed potatoes. He “doesn’t like lime juice” but really likes my fajita-style burritos (the chicken is marinated overnight in lime juice). He thinks English Muffins and Rice-a-Roni are bland, but went gaga for my black bean and chorizo soup, and the chorizo-rice-egg burritos (I brought back English muffins, Rice-a-Roni and Mexican chorizo from my last US trip). Pasta with A1 sauce? A big fan.
But tonight I made Sloppy Joe’s. I found Manwich at Bobby’s, and have been waiting for hamburger buns to come in season (soft buns of any type are specialty items here, the semmel are harder sandwich buns which just won’t work with Sloppy Joe’s).
I made my own “recipe”, which involves throwing in some chopped onion and chipotle peppers to the beef and sauce.
I toast two buns, put them on his plate, hand them to him, and go to pour myself some ginger ale.
When I look again, he has topped the four bun pieces with Sloppy Joe’s and is eating them open-faced. I point out he is supposed to eat them like a sandwich. He stares in disbelief. ”But then when I bite it, all this will go everywhere!” ”yes, that’s why they’re called Sloppy Joe’s.” ”And that’s a GOOD thing?”
He likes them a great deal, but refuses to eat them sloppy. I don’t know if he is a genius or a heretic.
I’m going to rant just a little bit, about something that is both annoying me and making me feel ashamed. There are these two women — friends — in my German class. I am guessing they are in their mid-20’s, but they ACT like stereotypical high school mean girls. They flirt with the cute boys, completely ignore the older (say, mid-50’s to mid-60’s) man and woman, and either ignore the other women or treat us like shit. Well, ok, one ignores completely, the other has those two chosen methods. They kiss the teacher’s ass, and roll their eyes as soon as she or he turns away — I have seen them do this to three teachers now. On the one hand, while their condescending manner annoys me, I pretty much don’t care most of the time. On the other hand, they offend the feminist in me by being so damned stereotypical that the first words that leap to *MY* mind when I think of describing them are gendered insults. The one that interacts to condescend does seem very very focused on learning German well, so there is one thing I can say in favor of one of them.
But I almost really lost it today. Previously in class, we had learned the Konjunktiv II verb tense. What we learned is that we only needed to know this form of three verbs — basically “I wish I had,” “I wish I were <place>,” and “I wish I was doing <action>.” Today we learned that 100% of verbs have this form (that exists as the equivalent of “I wish I was doing <action>”) and also that we should never ever use them. The only ones that should ever get used are the three we learned already, the other ones we need to know about because they are sometimes used in literature. And I asked a question, clarifying that the two forms of “I wish I was doing <action>” meant the exact same thing (they do). And condescending woman, in her extremely condescending way, proceeds to show me the page where we learned the stuff before and tell me about how it is all there and I could just be looking it up, with the implication of “and not wasting the class’ time.” And, as politely as I could manage, pointed out that my question was regarding what we had JUST learned, not what we had learned before. But I was boiling, I almost leaped out of my seat and smacked her.
I needed to stay after class to ask the teacher something, but before I could, the two women gather up the remaining cute boys and the teacher all together, and condescending woman turns to me and asks “can you take a picture of us.” And it was so openly and transparently high-school mean girl that I was totally embarrassed for her. Because she has chosen to exist that way, and it’s so cringe-inducing that I could only feel bad for her. Honestly, my mood did a complete 180. I am guessing this was their last day of class, and now I wish her the best, and almost wish I had left her more openings, since she so obviously needs this to feel like a better person.
I’m still glad they’re not in the class next month.
So i recently discovered that there is a store here in Vienna called Bobby’s, that sells UK and US food products that are otherwise impossible to find. AND it’s only about a 20-minute walk from home, AND that walk goes through the Naschmarkt, another place which sells gourmet and/or hard-to-find ethnic foods.
But while I may have to go to the Naschmarkt for ground Coriander seed, I ain’t gonna find A1 there. Or Manwich. Or Bisquik. Or Jif Peanut Butter. Or Hellman’s mayo. You know, the stuff that is, on the one hand, most definitely NOT gourmet or high-end, and on the other hand, is totally irreplaceable.
So while I was there today primarily for the American stuff, I found these tinned meat pies — like London Pub Pies. I was so excited that I had to force myself to only buy 2. After all, they might not be good, and I can always come back.
I got Steak & Mushroom and Chicken & Mushroom. I made the Chicken & Mushroom for dinner tonight. Remove the lid (my one objection, it actually requires a CAN OPENER. What kind of 1990’s technology is THAT?), cook for about 1/2 hour at 450F/230C.
They are skinny, so I was expecting dense:
I was NOT expecting it to contain real, albeit raw pie crust. When I pulled it out of the oven?
It was bland. It *IS* a pub pie, after all. But gooooooooood. Perfect comfort food. I imagine these are dirt cheap in England. At Bobby’s they cost about €4.50, or $5.75. Which is a bit pricey, but compared to, say, a Lean Cuisine meal? Especially since you would have to get two to equal the amount of food in this? Totally worth it.
So now I have Bisquik for pancakes, and Manwich for Sloppy Joe’s (tomorrow night: Brinner! Saturday: Sloppy Joes!) and access to A1 when I need it, and I am happy. And my list of stuff to bring back from my trip to the US this month got a lot smaller.
I made really great chicken salad. REALLY great. I used mostly this recipe, although I admit to loving Trader Joe’s Wine country chicken salad beforehand, and I was googling to find what the ingredients were in the dressing.
How is chicken salad best eaten? On crackers.
So I went to the grocery store to find crackers. The grocery stores here have a slightly different organizational thought process. For example, the salt is with the soup, the sugar is with the baking needs but sweetener is with the coffee, and spices are separate entirely. So I wasn’t sure where to look for crackers.
I looked with the cookies. No crackers. I looked with the chips. No crackers. I looked with the chocolate. No crackers. I looked with the baking needs. No crackers.
I was starting to wonder if they even HAD crackers in Europe.
Inspiration struck! With the bread! I went over to the bread, and, lo and behold, CRACKERS! YAY! I got a rye cracker, it sounded tasty.
I got home, put my chicken salad on my cracker and took a bite.
If someone had boiled granite to the point where one was… just barely… able to bite through it with only slightly chipped teeth, and seasoned it with dirty snow off the sides of the street, full of rocks and snow melter grit, and dog piss, it would taste like this. My chicken salad went across the room as I tried to bite through this thing.
“THIS IS HORRIBLE!” I yelled. ”THIS IS THE WORST CRACKER I HAVE EVER HAD!”
KH looked up from his computer and glanced at the package. ”That’s not a cracker. That’s Scandinavian knäckebröd. It’s bread.”
“It’s HORRIBLE! I wanted a CRACKER!”
“Well, that’s bread.”
“IT’S NOT BREAD, EITHER!”
“AND I DON’T CARE ANYWAY, I WANTED A CRACKER!”
Next time at the grocery store, he pointed out the crackers. They were with the chips, in the second place I looked. But very well disguised.
Before I get started, let me add a couple of caveats:
And, as promised, sparkly:
From the other side (also pre-photo-assistance):
And it was crowded:
There was ALL kinds of food — different Nockerl:
LOTS of booze drinks (every third stall had a menu like this):
As I said last week, all served hot in real mugs. Here is our Kinderpunsch (children’s punch, the only non-alcoholic kind):
They had a cheese booth, where you go and pick out exactly what kind of hot, melty cheese you want and they take it off the heated cheesewheel and slather it on bread. It caught fire:
But not long after, it was serving again. Maybe 10-15 minutes. Fire? BAH, just gives it a smoky flavor!
And the other food, the handmade chocolates, no we did NOT spend an assload of money at this stand.
mmmmmmmmmmpppppppppfffffffllll…. can’t talk. Eating chocolate.
Did y’all know that Austria invented the snow globe?
Most, if not all of the stands sold kitsch, but sometimes kitsch that didn’t take itself too seriously:
It was chilly. Someone give that lady a coat!
There was all kinds of sparkly kipple for sale:
For more, you can check my FB album.
So I am surprised to find I like the cold. I lived for twelve years in Boston, complaining every winter. However: I was drunk the whole time, and not dressed appropriately. My very dear friend once told me at that time that if I would just dress for it, winter could be as wonderful as any other season. And while I took her advice to heart (after all, I still remember it), and I have one or two memories of really loving being out in the snow… well, see the bit again about being drunk the whole time. That led to both a lack of clean laundry and just throwing on whatever seemed like a good idea at that particular moment.
But there’s something else. Even in Boston, people seem to want to deny winter exists. You can see this in the clothing for sale. For example: finding good, thick, heavy, wool or wool-like tights is nearly impossible. Sweaters are around, but also a whole lot of very light shirts. I went coat shopping at the Cambridge Burlington Coat factory and had to head to the men’s section since the coats for women would in no way keep you warm. (And thus began 4-5 years of the Big Puffy Coat, which everyone hated, but I LOVED because it kept me warm.)
Here, in Vienna, if it’s winter clothing season, it’s taken seriously. Tights? Everywhere. Sure, some skinny ones, but big, thick, warm ones all over the place. Walk into a store and it’s sweaters, sweaters, sweaters everywhere. Winter coat technology is WAY ahead of the US (remember the Big Puffy Coat from the last paragraph? The same warmth coat here is less than an inch thick. I suppose you can get these jackets in specialty ski shops, but they sure aren’t everywhere, the way they are here).
I did hit the men’s section for plain thermal shirts, but that was a fashion issue: I wanted solid colors with no frills, and everything on the chick side had lace or bows or patterns. THEY STILL HAD THE THERMAL SHIRTS. That don’t LOOK thermal, just look like shirts. They just didn’t have them in styles I fancied — in that one store on that one shopping trip. I could have searched Boston for months, only finding anything remotely close in the men’s long underwear section.
And there has been fun confusion already. The first time KH said, with disgust and fear in his voice, that it was “already zero” out and I should make sure to dress very warmly, I nearly FREAKED. ALREADY ZERO??? It’s NOVEMBER. WTF?
Oh, you mean low 30s. That’s not so bad. WHY DON’T THESE PEOPLE USE NORMAL TEMPERATURES????
So, all dressed warm and all, I am loving the cold weather. It is brisk and invigorating. On the one hand, it hasn’t gotten THAT cold yet (only about 0C, 30F) and it can get a LOT colder (when I was here last year at New Year’s, it was -8C, 15F). On the other hand, I haven’t added in all the layers yet, so there are more warmth resources available. Last night, we walked around the Christmas markets for a couple hours, and I had on tights, jeans, sweater, coat with hood, socks, sneakers. I can still add thermal shirt, warmer shoes, hat and gloves.
KH is uncertain about my “gradually adding layers” plan. He asked before we left last night if I would be warm enough, and I said yes, and added “plus, I don’t want to blow my whole wad on ‘zero’. I can still go warmer as it gets colder, this will get me a bit used to being slightly chilly.” He said he didn’t think that logic worked, but I think that’s because he’s already complaining and it’s only low 30’s. I mean REALLY. Who’s the one who grew up here? (I did have my hat and gloves in my pocket, just in case, but I didn’t need them.) Personally, I think he needs to add long underwear. His butt gets cold.
So I am READY FOR THIS.
Please note: Universe, this is not a challenge in ANY WAY. I am not so ready that we need to be hitting record cold temps for Alpine countries or anything like that. Ready for a normal Viennese winter for my first one, kthnxbai.
Note: I do apologize for the lack of pics, there will be another visit, and I will bring my camera. For some idea of the light show, I direct you to last year’s just-post-Christmas holiday pictures album. I also apologize in advance for overuse of the word “sparkly” but seriously, yo. It WAS.
So Vienna does not fuck around when it comes to Christmas. The entire city gets decked out in sparkly lights, some of which may have no relation to Christmas — we saw one tree last night absolutely filled with hot air balloon lamps. It was next to the tree filled with heart lamps, which was next to the tree filled with white balls with red bows on them. And only one of those trees made sense. But it was SPARKLY.
For all of Advent (for you non-Catholics, the month before Christmas), the city is in party mode, which ramps up over the entire month. KH has regaled me with stories of how the two weeks before Christmas is basically a city-wide drunken orgy, and I am looking forward to seeing it.
But last night wasn’t there yet. It was about walking around in the chill and sparkly and getting the feel. And visiting just a couple of the Christmas markets: large, open aired markets with vendors of everything from Christmas ornaments to jazz CD’s to handmade puppets, but most importantly food and booze. Think a giant arts fair, only these are all over the city and contain excessive amounts of alcohol for sale.
We went to the biggest of the markets, the one at the Rathaus. We approached, navigating around a few large groups of people, but it didn’t seem as crowded as I was led to believe… until we arrived at the market itself. HOLY SHIT. It was a wall of people. It did thin out once we were a bit inside. Well, it thinned out in specific places. It was nearly impossible to get close to the food and booze stalls but pretty much everywhere else had room to maneuver. There were still so many people that I was only comfortable smoking a cigarette where we found a clear spot to stand by the side of a stall. I would have burned some stranger, otherwise.
The difference between the two sets of stalls was so pronounced that I asked KH if anyone bought anything that was NOT food or drink. ”No,” was the simple answer. But it was pretty to look at. The stalls with the chandeliers and lighting fixtures, the stalls with the super-sparkly Christmas-tree ornament displays. The stalls with everything bee-related: honeys of all types and beeswax candles. The stalls with baskets. And baskets. And more baskets. PILES of fucking baskets, is what I am getting at here.
The stalls selling fur muffs, which, really? There is ANYONE still wearing these things? (We passed one, and KH asked if I wanted a hand badger).
The food smell did start getting to me, with KH asking me every other stall if I wanted this thing or that thing. Even though the stalls were really heavy on the pastry and sweets, and I hadn’t had dinner. But my spidey-sense was working. We passed a pair of women eating… something. I didn’t know what, but my head whipped around. ”What are they eating?” I asked and pointed. ”Oh. Potato,” came the answer. ”I WANT ONE.” But it was to be a while before I got my potato.
I finally broke at the donut stall. I could smell the donuts being fried and drifted over to check it out, to see the display of very fresh, frosting coated donuts on display. But “very fresh” wasn’t what I wanted. Not with that smell. ”Right out of the fryer” was what I wanted, so I breathed a deep sigh and turned away. Until KH pointed out the mini-donuts served right out of the fryer, slopped over top with sauce, and served with a fork. YES I WANT SOME. We got six, with vanilla sauce. That was not enough. Good thing there will be a next time.
Riding high on the utter deliciousness of the donuts I had just had, we sidled up to another stall. ”What are those ice-cream looking things?” I asked. They looked just like a soft-serve ice cream cone. ”They are filled with foam,” he says. ”Do you want one?” “Oh, so these markets aren’t just about drinking? they are also about stuffing yourself as much as possible?” With a look like I had grown a second head, and the long-suffering patience of a parent with a child who clearly IS NOT GETTING IT, he simply said “Yes.” Free of constraint, and with donut lust still in my heart, I ordered an… ice-cream-looking-foam thing.
Imagine a sugar ice cream cone, completely filled with flavored eclair crème (in my case, strawberry), then covered in the same flavor candy coating so that it looks, in fact, EXACTLY like a soft-serve ice cream. It was… sweet. I finished — barely — and said to KH “that was a very great deal of pure sugar.” “YES!” he said, delightedly. ”Now add in a ton of alcohol, and you understand the mood that people are in.” Oh. My. God.
Now I was starting to think I might throw up. Apparently, I was just getting into the spirit of Christmas. We moved on to the second market, smaller and less crowded. (KH says the one at the Rathaus is the biggest for tourists, and most packed). We passed several potato-sellers on the way out, but he kept me moving. ”We’ll get potato at the next market,” he said, as I looked longingly back.
I wanted this potato.
We passed through a small, auxiliary market close to the next one. The markets themselves are set up on large squares. Parks, open areas without automobile traffic. But there are plenty of places, too, where several stalls will open along the sidewalks. These are the “unofficial” markets. The last stand as we left was — you guessed it — potato. KH still dragged me on. I was beginning to think I would not be allowed this treat for some reason.
We got to the main market — again, MUCH smaller and less crowded than the Rathaus — and found a stand selling all kinds of preserved meat. Bacons, sausages, hams. Including an entire haunch of pig, prosciutto-cured. It was HUGE. They were also selling grilled sausages, so we had some, and our first cup of punch. Note: Apparently the only punch option for me is the Kinder-Punsch. EVERYTHING else has booze. And when I say “has booze,” KH tells me they have toned it down in recent years, from being 80% rum to only being 50% rum. No wonder December is what it is. I am almost excited to see my first strip of people passed out in the snow at 6pm, which he tells me is coming soon.
Another thing: all the punch comes in real coffee mugs. When you order, you put down a deposit (a euro or two) on your mug. Each market has its own set of mugs, and you simply return yours to any of the booze vendors you pass for your deposit back. Unless, as KH did, you get too fed up with waiting for your return, and just ditch the mug on the counter. Or, as many other people did, just take the mugs home. Now I understand why he has so many Christmas-themed coffee mugs.
And if you order a sausage at a vendor, it is most likely to come on a tiny plate with a pool of mustard next to it, a tiny fork, and a slice of bread. If you want it on a bun, you better find a vendor offering “hot dogs.” Same sausage options (Käsekrainer, Bratwurst, Debrizener, etc), just putting it onna bun makes it a hot dog. You use your fork to maneuver the giant hunk of meat into the mustard and eat it. It’s not QUITE as good as right off the bone, but there’s still something pretty medieval feeling about it. Your bread serves to catch all the dripping fat, which makes the dark, chewy deliciousness even more so.
We had sausages and punch (did I mention all this punch is hot?), and walked around a bit more. By then I was getting tired. And I WANTED POTATO.
Guess what there was none of at this market? GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
So I finally insisted on getting my damned potato. And we walked back to the auxiliary market to find NO LINE at the potato stand. These are large… I would say baked potatoes, but they are not baked. Roasted on coals. With many, many options for topping. I decided on bacon and roasted onion, with garlic sour cream sauce (the sauce was always on the potato, and you had your choice of “herb [sour cream] sauce” or “garlic”).
I don’t think it was the anticipation. I think it was my spidey sense, drawing my head to notice what those two women way back there had been eating, knowing that it would be the most delicious thing ever. And they don’t just slop shit on. The lines at these stands are long because the vendor takes the potato, cuts it open, takes your toppings (bacon and roasted onion) and mushes them all in together THOROUGHLY before, well, slopping a whole lot of sauce on top. All the ingredients are kept warm. They are served on real plates (with a 2 euro deposit and a plastic fork). I took a bite and nearly choked. ”GARLIC!” I gasped. KH just nodded. ”When something says garlic here, we’re not fucking around.” No, no they are not. The gentle aroma of garlic does not waft through. The garlic man shows up in his garlic truck and hits you on the head with a garlic brick. It was wooooooonderful. I want one now. I regretted the discontinuance of the vomitorium so that I could not have another one RIGHT THEN. But I was way too full by that point, and getting sleepy.
KH asked me if I wanted another and I said I was getting too full. He said “It’s CHRISTMAS! You can eat and drink as much as you want and it’s ok!” ”But, honey, I am not saying I am ashamed of my gluttony. I am saying I am approaching “wahfer-theen-meent” status.”
He was disappointed in me. In the fact that I was FULL. In the fact that I had only made it two hours of walking around and standing (there is NO seating). He says I have to train. I have to become a proper Viennese girl, able to walk all day and consume sausage, strudel, and potatoes non-stop.
I have to admit I am looking forward to it. Especially the potato part of my training. We have 48 more official markets to hit, and 26 days. I’m ready.
So pickpocketing is still alive and flourishing in Europe, and KH has taught me all kinds of ways to protect my stuff.
However, the less subtle method of “grab something out of someone’s hands and run away” is also in use.
The other day, KH was saying he was concerned that I carry my Kindle in my hands while I walk, and maybe I shouldn’t do that. I asked, VERY REASONABLY, how I was supposed to read while I was walking if I didn’t have the Kindle in my hands.
I am 100% certain that the stunned silence was because of my mad street navigating skillz.
So every week, during our weekly grocery shopping, “we” buy chocolate — like water, coffee, and bread, it is a staple. KH has been known to look in the fridge and cabinets and say “we are out of chocolate.” However: The reason “we” is in quotes up there is that from the time of purchase until we run out, it is “my” chocolate. The fact that I usually eat a square or two and he eats the rest is irrelevant.
We usually buy bars, but this week I wanted to try an assortment, because they looked so good, and I didn’t see any bars that I handn’t had before that really appealed to me.
We bought two. One of them I opened last night. It’s called Guylian, and all the pieces are the same type, but in different sea-themed shapes: different shells and seahorses. On the inside cover, in multiple languages, it tells us that with every box, we are supporting “project seahorse” that is “devoted to stopping the gradual disappearance of these delicate creatures from the oceans of the world.” After wondering how the oceans were attacking the seahorses, I asked if we cared. ”Do we LIKE seahorses? Is this a cause we believe in? Should we be sending our money elsewhere?”
KH stuffed a shell in my mouth. All I have to say is that I believe we will be doing a large part to ensure the continued survival of these beautiful creatures. And possibly your part, too.