I am certainly no stranger to Germany; this is my fifth visit and my second time living here. But I have never actually been here in the fall, to see the leaves change and the weather go from balmy to brisk to freezing (and then repeat the pattern). Fall also happens to be my favorite season--I love the sweaters and boots, the cold sunshine, and even the rainy days don't bother me. They're just an excuse to put on a sweatshirt, watch a movie, and drink some cinnamon tea. But the best part of fall, in my opinion, is the food. Tis the season for hearty stews, root vegetables, butternut squash, Thanksgiving, and above all, pumpkin
. In the States, I've been known to do a little dance when Starbucks brings out its Pumpkin Spice Latte (in red Christmas cup!) every year around this time, and I can't get enough of it in soups, muffins, breads, you name it. Naturally I was hoping to continue the tradition of pumpkin-eating here in Germany, and lucky for me, pumpkins are sold at outdoor vegetable markets on practically every corner. But most recipes call for canned pumpkin, which apparently is utterly unknown on this side of the ocean. Shock! Dismay! Horror! So what's a resourceful girl to do? Make pumpkin puree, of course. It was a pain, trust me, but worth it. I made the most delicious cookies and scones out of that pumpkin. . .
My friends and I also decided to cook a vegetarian lasagna inside a pumpkin for dinner one night, which was an epic success (recipe here
). If you're as into pumpkin as I am (or even if you're not!) check out these recipes for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
or pumpkin scones
Some photographic evidence:
If your mouth's not watering yet, wait until you hear about one of the coolest fall traditions I've ever been a part of . . . The Besenwirtschaft. It is basically a tiny basement in a very old German home, open only from October through December, where the patrons sell their homemade wines (nine types) and delicious German food. The place only holds about 35 people, and in order to get a table you have to arrive ten minutes before it opens.
I am no wine expert, believe me, but what I have tasted in this place is the best I've ever had, without a doubt. My favorite thing on the menu is the prosecco, which pairs nicely with roasted pork and mashed potatoes, if I may be so bold as to make a recommendation. Last Friday night we spent a delightful several hours huddled in the corner of the basement, drinking and laughing and eating until we were so full we could hardly move.
Me and my friend Dan, excited about the Schweinebraten mit Kartoffelpuree:
The day after our lovely dinner at the Besenwirtschaft, my friend Gwen and I traveled to Meersburg to visit my Uncle Dieter and Aunt Bea, who live on Lake Constance in the south of Germany. We had a truly wonderful time sitting in their living room and talking about everything from my uncle's childhood to Gwen's year abroad in Switzerland to health care in America (oh, the controversy!). My aunt is an incredible cook, and we were treated to traditional Käsespätzle (the German version of a gourmet maccaroni and cheese, with caramelized onions on top) and several pieces of cherry-almond chocolate cake. Obviously, this week I've had to back off the eating a bit. :-)
At the end of the month, Dieter and Bea are going to Ethiopia for a two-week tour. I can't wait to hear about their adventure . . .
Stay tuned for that, as well as news of how my friends and I are celebrating our first Thanksgiving away from home (hint: more annoying pumpkin-pureeing and the German version of Apples to Apples), another visit to Regensburg, and my birthday trip to the Christmas markets of Vienna in December!
With my aunt and uncle in Meersburg: