Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Monday, May 29, 2006

On the Road

The Partnerin and I were up North visiting her family and participating in the baptism of her nephews. It was a happy but consuming weekend. That, plus the fact that her parent's town presents few opportunities to hook up to the net, made it difficult to keep up the blog over the weekend. The nearest "city" is Luneburg, of Luneburger Heide fame. It is filled with a number of gabled houses like those pictured here. We stopped off in Luneburg for a walk around, a little shopping and lunch, and then headed south.

The Heide itself is quite scenic. We've been talking for some time about actually spending some time there cycling or whatever, but at any given time we were either or both Type-A's who needed to be anywhere but where we were at the moment. I wish I could say it was different today, but we both had reasons to be back in Frankfurt before the end of the business day. Maybe next time ?

It's good to be back home.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Over at Der Burger Meister

Der Burger Meister visited The Fox & Hound for what he considers one of the best burgers in Frankfurt ... but in the name of journalistic integrity, he is still looking far and wide. Check it out. Your comments or suggestions are always welcome, as I'm sure we are all on the hunt for a good burger once in a while.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chips & Dips

Yep, you probably wondered where I was going with #'s 4 & 5 below. We spent the day packing and organizing before we head north tomorrow ... today is the holiday in Germany and the start to a four day weekend, and therefore is perhaps the worst day to travel ... And it was a good day to prepare Pico de Gallo and Guacamole and chips to snack while we pack.

I decided to do this after being terribly disappointed in a plate of "nachos" that I had on the town last night. A couple of girls from class snagged me to go clubbing last night (I don't kid myself about being so hip, but I do have cash and a good sense of humor, so I'm a good clubbing companion). Unfortunately, before we could get away the instructor and another student did something highly uncharacteristic, namely to tag along. One wasn't dressed well enough to get past the bouncers, and the other wasn't so keen on Techno/House, so we found ourselves sitting in a restaurant named Tequila, which was cute and crowded, but not really what we had set out for.

I decided to order a Margarita, and even emphasized that I liked Lime and indeed wanted to taste some. True to form, I was disappointed. It was rather bland, and they didn't even bother to salt the rim of the glass (which I guess is better than using sugar on the rim, which I have experienced in a couple German bars). At least the Bar Tender gave me a rather thick piece of Lime, which I could squeeze into the drink to give it some flavor.

Everybody else decided to have beer, and aside from munching on a couple chips, none seemed to interested in the food ... oh well, now I know why I haven't actually gone ahead and opened the Mexican restaurant, an idea I have been toying with for some time ... I keep thinking the cosmopolitan bankers of Frankfurt are hungry for good mexican food and good margaritas, but I am kidding myself and am glad I have not made the investment.

Anyway, I ordered a plate of Nachos and Guacamole, but what we received were plain corn chips that had a few Jalepenos sprinkled over them along with a very small bowl of guacamole-cream. No salsa, no cheese, no anything else. Very disappointing indeed.

So today I decided fill the hole that had been left in my life by throwing together some chips and dips for me and the Partnerin. In mass quantities.

The red stuff is Pico de Gallo. It is nothing more than tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalepenos, cilantro and lime blended together. In this case, I did a fairly fine puree, which works well for dipping.

You really need to decide on your own proportions, but here I used three good sized tomatoes, one whole medium onion, roughly 10 slices of jalepeno peppers from the jar, the juice of one lime, and a small hadful of cilantro leaves (I guess that would be about ten leaves if I had bothered to count). I put everything but the tomatoes into the herb chopper until they are well mixed, and then toss in the tomatoes ... don't want to make gazpacho. This is a lot of onion and garlic for the average german, so you might want to reserve half of the onion and half of the garlic until you have tried the first batch out on your significant other. Maybe the same deal on the jalepenos. Some purists will tell you to take the seeds and watery part out of the tomatoes ... I don't, as I want it to be somewhat liquid. Others will tell you to add olive oil ... I don't, as the chips are oily enough.

As for the guacamole, this one is the chunky version. Half a tomato, half an onion, and half a clove of garlic are ground in the herb-chopper until mixed, then several hits of Tabasco, the juice of half a lime, and salt and pepper are added along with at least one whole, ripe avacado ... if you find them in your local market, it is highly unlikely it will be ripe. I always buy a couple each week so that I will have something to work with the next week. Today guacamole, tomorrow california rolls.

I was so pissed about last night's batch of guacamole that I wanted to get back to my roots, which would be closer to the Guacamole you can get at Rosa Mexicano's in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which they hand-grind with a large mortar & pestle at your table. Rosa's do use cilantro in the guacamole, but I figured we had enough in the Pico. Anyway, today I decided to grind it only to a coarse texture, which surprised the Partnerin since she is accustomed to having guacamole in a cream form. As would most people in Germany, since they get their guacamole from a jar.

The Pico de Gallo is essentially a zero-calorie proposition, so you can have as much as you like without shame, although if you use as much onion and garlic as I do you might not get kissed for a couple of days. Other than that, the problem would be the chips. As for the guacamole, there is no question it is a high calorie dish, but the fat from the avocado is mostly mono-unsaturated fat (good for you) and the avocado is chock full of vitamins, so enjoy. Again, it's the chips that are killing you ... The homemade dips are good enough to eat without chips if you are really worried about things like that. Both are also good on burritos, as if that is a healthier alternative to chips ... or schnitzel.

Things I Wish Were Easier to Find in Germany #005
Plain Tortilla Chips

You can occasionally find plain Tortilla chips in stores, but it is hard. Most of what you will find are coated with "Nacho cheese" or some other flavoring, which renders them useless for making Nachos or for dipping in fresh salsa or pico gallo. I rarely see my German friends using plain salsa as a dip, instead seeing the jar-cheese and jar-guacamole-cream, both of which are heavy enough and bland enough to warrant the senseless use of flavored chips.

The Fuego brand of plain chips are pretty good, as is the WalMart brand. Toom carries a not so famous brand that are also pretty good, although they are too coarse for the Partnerin's taste. The Dippa brand also has a good plain chip, which is what the Partnerin prefers to use when she makes nachos ... I kid you not, and they are good. It's the one thing from America, other than your's truly, that she really digs.

I suppose I could make my own, but the fresh tortillas would never last so long to warrant frying ... yep, chips are essentially left-over tortillas, although several of the national Mexican restaurant chains in the US now very openly make the fresh tortillas and then fry them up for you to dip while you wait for that big burrito.

Things I Wish Were Easier to Find in Germany #004
Fresh Cilantro

It's called coriander here. Yes, you can find it, but it's not always easy. It seems the locals don't like it so much.

You can find Cilantro/Coriander in Germany in some markets ... just because they have a fresh herbs section does not mean they will have it. In Frankfurt, you can find it cut for sale at the Kleinmarkthalle downtown. I have not seen in in most grocery stores like MiniMal or Toom, but I have occasionally seen it among the live potted herbs at WalMart. It seems only Auslanders buy the stuff, so only the high-end and low-end Auslander shopping outlets seem to carry it.

I grow my own. There must be some demand for it, because you can find Coriander seeds for planting among the shelves of seed packets at the local Baumarkt.

Cilantro plus several items of "The Essential Kitchen" make Fresh Salsa or Pico Gallo. You don't find that here, and the closest you get is Fuego salsa in a jar, which is ok, but nothing beats the fresh stuff ... something I do miss from Southern California.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Go There #002
Restaurant Cafe Denne, Kiedrich (Rheingau)

Since I had no particular place to go, I decided to continue exploring the Rheingau. Kiedrich is a convenient jumping-off on the way into or out of the Rheingau, with quite a few good restaurants for a pre-wander lunch or a post-wander dinner. Having had two schnitzels, two burgers, greek, indian, and other sinful things to eat last week, I decided to eat a "light" lunch. I put that in scare-quotes because this is what I had ...

Salmon smothered in a cream sauce. Ok, not so bad, but what you don't see are the Rosti (fried potato cakes that would resemble what some Americans would call ... forgive me my German friends ... Hash Browns, but very good ones) that all of this is sitting atop. I was still doing OK up to this point.

This is the kind of place I can take my mother or sister when they visit -- It appeals to women, with the menu including a few interesting soups and salads and lighter fare. They also have Schnitzel if you are so inclined.

As I sat there having a late lunch, a number of the older women of the town came in to pick up their cakes and torte for the afternoon coffee break. And since it was a bit cooler today and there was no real outside table service, I found myself sitting facing the door and taking all this in. Germans have this habit of greeting total strangers, which still occurs in parts of the US, but after living a decade in New York I had grown accustomed to strangers leaving me to eat in peace. There was some of this greeting-stuff in Frankfurt, but usually only if the person was sitting down directly next to you or trapped in an elevator with you. Here, as I sat, practically every old lady who came in the door wished me "Guten Apetit" as I was savoring my lunch. It is a smaller town, indeed.

They have excellent cakes as you might be able to see from this poorly lit shot ... I try to shoot without flash, because people think it is odd enough that you are photographing your food.

I would ordinarily have skipped dessert and pick it up down the road, but I was sold by this little scene. The kids were really more interested in the pralines, which the Konditor informed the mother were filled with alcohol ... I don't know if he was giving her a warning or a tip.

I decided to have what I would have called "Death by Chocolate." It turns out that this was the Whiskey Torte. Hmmm. Thick chocolate drowned in Whiskey. Two of my favorite things in life. So I had that with a shot of espresso. When the Partnerin saw that, she said "You had coffee!" I never do that. It was just that kind of day.

Salmon with Rosti smothered in cream-sauce and accompanied by Salad, a glass of Coke, a Whiskey Torte, and an Espresso came to EUR 13.45, which was rounded up to 15.00.

Go there!

Oberstrasse 22
65399 Kiedrich
Tel (06123) 4979

50° 02' 28" N
08° 04' 55" E

They are closed on Mondays.
Tuesdays to Saturdays, open 12:00 to 18:00
Sundays & Holdidays, open 10:00 to 18:00

Yes, I will get to other towns ... so many restaurants, so little time, especially if I keep chowing down schnitzels and burgers.

Plane Spotting

It was a slow day ... weather too dicey to play golf, and I had no place special to go. So I decided to see if I could get a few good shots of planes landing. Yes, I have a hard life indeed.

I forgot how many people (mostly middle aged men, in serious need of a life who have found one doing this for hours on end ... I felt odd doing it for an hour) go to the airport to hang out and watch the aircraft land.

Most of them had cameras. I was happy to have my "super" 300mm telephoto lens on hand, but I started to get a real sense of Lens-Envy as I walked past the serious guys with the 1000mm + telephoto lenses. You could see them sneer at my little attachment as I walked by. Still I managed to get some nice photos.

Some of these guys are really into Plane Spotting, not only in photographing the planes, but also in keeping detailed logs of tail-numbers (aircraft ID's) and times of take-off or landing.

Some people even travel the world doing this ... a bunch of Brits were jailed in Greece for this sometime after September 11. I think the Greeks kept their equipment, which given the investment some of these guys make in gear, would make a serious dent in their household budget. In any case, one could make the observation that "the Greeks don't want no Geeks." Groan!

I wonder how people get into this ... do they start watching planes and then buy all the toys, or do they find themselves with all the toys and a need to find something to do with them?

I must admit it is fun to watch planes landing on a windy day like today ... but unless you are trying to piece together the operations of certain groups of aircraft operators, it really makes one wonder why these guys do this for hours on end. Then again, several of the biggest lenses on the line were sitting on the ground ... some of these guys were spotting for specific tail numbers, and would only point the big guns in the direction of ground operations if one landed. Maybe they are looking for those famed CIA flights the EU has been whining about ... hmmm. Since some military and a number of military contracted flights still come here, I would not be surprised if a couple of these guys were out there for professional reasons.

This also gave me a chance to take a close-up look at the Luftbrücke (Air Bridge) memorial to the 1947 Berlin Airlift. The Frankfurt airport was dual use until recently, with the "other side" being Rhein-Main Air Force Base. I flew into this place on more than a few occasions in the 80's, but I never bothered to see the memorial up close. I also hadn't bothered to see it in the past several years I have lived here. The fenced in area is only open on alternate weekends, so I had to photograph it from outside, but I finally got to see this little icon in person and not just from the A-5 as I was speeding up to 200KPH or from Final for 25L as I was slowing to 160Kts.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Things I Wish Were Easier to Find in Germany #003
Guinness Extra Stout

OK, I'd be happy to have free and unfettered access to any of the members of the Guiness family, but short of living over an Irish Pub, it's not so easy to find for consumption at home.

I first started drinking Guinness Extra Stout when I was in the Air Force. I shared an apartment with two other crew dogs ... each of us pulled a week of alert duty, which meant that at any time only two of us were home. It also meant that when one of us was away, our stuff was fair game for use/consumption by the others. So invariably I would come home to a week's worth of my dishes sitting in the sink and no cola or beer to drink. Thus began a continuing relationship with Tab and Guinness (It had to be Extra Stout for maximum effect), both of which were not to the likings of my roomies. As for me, they suit my personality ... dark and bitter, heh heh!

You can find the stuff in Germany ... somewhere on the Guinness web-site there used to be a search engine you could use to find specific vendors, usually one of your local Getraenkmarkte ... it usually looked very lonely next to the thousands of German beers to be had, but it seemed to move rather well. Lately I've found it at Walmart, and it has indeed been moving well. Maybe it will become much more common in Germany.

And on the subject of Guinness, bravo to the engineers who have developed a canned draft that gives you decent head. No substitute for the real thing ... a pint in a pub that is ... but not a bad alternative in strange and foreign lands.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Of Telcos & Table Lamps
Friday was Big Schnitzel Day

Since I failed last week to get a proper picture of the Schnitzelbrotchen at the Schillermarkt, I decided despite a week full of cholesterol to risk my life yet again in the name of journalistic integrity ... here it is in its full splendor.

The Parnterin and I went out for Greek on friday evening, and when we returned, the house was dark ... really dark. Something had blown the circuit breaker for the living room, so the lights and all of the electronics were dark, which was truly a shame because it meant that the West Wing was not recording.

So having restored power, I set about looking for the cause. I went to switch on the table lamp I had bought at the Nebraska Furniture Mart about twenty years ago: This is the lamp the Partnerin has been bugging me to put in storage for some time despite protestations that this was the first lamp I had actually purchased as an adult, thus earning it a special place in the house. It was on a timer, so it should have been on ... "Gee, the bulb must be burned out." So I check it and yes, it is bad. Having replaced it, I switch it on ... Blue flash and then darkness. Yep, found the cause.

I stand in the dark for a couple of seconds wondering what would cause a lamp that had been working well for several years since last being moved ... these things generally don't spontaneously melt down, with failure usually coming when parts are moved. I'm the only one who touches the thing ... the Partnerin is not keen on American Table Lamp styling.

My mind wanders as I ponder the possibilities: "Hmmm ... Maybe NSA has been reading my blog, and in a rare incident of interagency cooperation, the clandestine service of CIA have planted a bug in the lamp to gather more up-close and personal information on what we eat for dinner, and in typical CIA fashion the damn thing has failed." Ok, I'm really not that paranoid ... just wanted to make this mundane part of the story more interesting.

But I digress.

Having unplugged the lamp and reset the circuit breaker, I sit down to check the e-mail. The Network is working, but I'm getting "Server not found" on all pages. Seems my internet connection is down. So I climb up on the China Hutch, where the router and DSL modem are stationed, and I confirm the router is OK, but the DSL modem is stone-cold dead. Seems the power surge killed it. I open it to see if their is a fuse to replace, and in classic cheap T-Com fashion, there is not. It is truly fried. And this is the one piece of equipment for which I have no redundancy. I could handle a laptop, network card, or even the router failing, but I have no spare DSL modem. Bummer.

So yesterday I wander down to my local T-Punkt or whatever they call it to get a new modem. If I were really interested in keeping costs to a minimum I would have bought one at Saturn or Media Markt, but I also decided to finally upgrade to the 6MB DSL service ... I figure I can talk them into tossing in the modem for free if I upgrade, which they do. In the bargain, I can eliminate two of five boxes in the telephone-network chain (this thing also manages analog appliances, which had required another attachment to interface with the ISDN).

Of course, as I walk home I think of the 6000 things I must now do now that I have essentially eliminated the need for a separate router, which was managing all of the wireless security. And this means that I need to collect a bunch of MAC addresses and put them into the MAC filtering of the new AP/Router/Modem and re-do the keys on all the gadgets. What price, paranoia ... I do have a healthy regard for the fact that someone can camp outside our front yard and sniff packets, and I'm not going to make it easy for them.

Surprise, surprise, this thing is up and working in less than 20 minutes ... the first good OOBE I have ever had with T-online. Better stop typing now while good karma is on my side.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Burger Brief #001 -- Benchmarking

First in a series over at Der Burger Meister, deals with what to pick as a benchmark burger. It's not the best in Germany or the World, but it's not a bad start.

For those of you who follow this blog, if you are concerned about the amount of cholesterol I have pumped into my system this week, thanks for your concern ... to Paraphrase Dennis Leary, they still haven't found a cure for death, and so I eat and enjoy.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Alte Oper Fest

Yes, the festival season is well underway with the return of the festival at the Alte Oper ...

But again, what is with Tacos & Crepes? Don't know, but it is popular.

And be sure to sample some of the "local" specialities, like the Caiprihinas. The team is working fast and furious here to grind the fresh limes ... worth the wait.

The Rheingau (Continued)

This is Schloss Johannisberg from the bottom of the hill. It's on the circuit of Schlosses that I drag friends and family to when they visit, as you can walk for miles / kilometers and get all sorts of scenery. And of course have a nice tasting of the more famous of the local wines.

The view down the hill.

Someone was planning a party or reception with a view. From this vantage point you have roughly 230 degrees of view.

All of this takes place at 50 degrees North, which is a bit north of Vancouver, BC and Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. Gives you an idea of how temperate the Rhein region is. The Mosel region is a few "minutes" farther north.

Then you can stop off and have a cake and coffee on the Terrace overlooking the Rhein. Rest assured, try to do this on a Saturday afternoon in Spring and Summer and you will not be alone.

You can also have cake and coffee in the enclosed Terrace year-round, or you can take in a full meal of the "local specialities."

This was on Tuesday, so it was not so bad ... only a few roving packs out for a spaziergang ...

Otherwise, just me, the Bishop, and the vines.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Go There #001
The Zehnthof, Kiedrich (Rheingau)

Schnitzel just like Grandma used to make, fried in Butter. I started to order this with a side of fries, but then I remembered where I was ... bratkartoffeln also fried in butter. Actually, I think it is a combination of butter and schmalz, as if you needed more fat, but you can taste the butter. More importantly, you can actually feel the texture of the Schnitzel's bread-crumb coating as it hits your tongue.

Schnitzel, bratkartoffeln, salad, and Coke (I have to drive) run a grand total of EUR 10.40, which I round up to EUR 12.00 for the fast and friendly service. Might not seem like much of a tip by American standards, but the waitress thanks me in English.

Go there ... the decor will look tired, but at least it is paid for. The food is good and the price is right.

Oberstrasse 1
65399 Kiedrich

50° 02' 26" N
8° 05' 01" E

I doubt you will need a reservation. But keep in mind that this place is closed on Friday's ... go figure, most places chose Monday.

It's not a big town. Walk around a bit and enjoy it. If you don't find the Zehnthof, you will find at least 6 other places (most are Strausswirtschaften) to take a look at. If you are not shy about sitting with strangers, you will find a place at one of them, maybe. They fill up fast.

The Rheingau

Let's pretend I am typing this in on Tuesday evening ... well, it's still Tuesday evening in the US, so that's go enough for me. I got a late start into the day, largely due to dropping documents off at an offically approved translator and doing a little banking, but I decided to head west for the Rheingau ... had not been there for a while.

As I was passing under the A-5, I thought "I bet there's construction on the A-66 .... maybe I should take the A5 south to the A3 and then West." I've always been good at thinking, but unfortunately I've too often been good at second-thoughts, which in this case went something like, "Nah! How bad can it be." I finally got to where I would have been on the A-3 in 20 minutes if I had taken it an hour ago. 40 minutes lost.

This would have pissed me off in my banking days ... and it still does, because I have book-ended 4 out every 5 days in the week with a language class. Tonight's class started at 7pm, so I had enough room to venture the 60Km or so to the Rheingau, but the loss of 40 minutes meant that one stop and one wine tasting had to be cut out of the day ... well, at the time I believe I gave myself the choice to cut class, but Tuesday is Chinese, and I actually enjoy that class. If it had been German, which I have on the other three nights, there would have been at least two more wine tastings this afternoon.

I settled on Schloss Johannisberg ... it has a good set of paths through the vineyards, and it also has a great view of the Rhein Valley. Since I had camera in hand, I figured it would be the best subject of the day. Schloss Vollrads might look more like what one would expect from an American's perspective of how German vinter's layouts ought to look, but Johannisberg is not exactly a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Fortunately I had had a light lunch in Frankfurt, so I was not hungry when I arrived at a closed restaurant. Which did not matter since I had decided on a Schnitzel later in Kiedrich. And so I set about walking the paths around the Schloss and snapping photos, which I would have shared here, but for some reason blogger is not uploading any more.

Just as well, as this post was on its way to getting James Joycian. So I leave it with a blick of the Rhein.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Is there a Hidden Message Here ?

It Pays to Look Up Once in a While

They are finally stripping the shroud off the Frankfurt Dome, and just in time for the WM2006. I caught it from a bad angle today, so I will have to re-visit this from another perspective, because this also means that the Auslander Banner up above should be updated to reflect this nice addition to the skyline.

Colonel Nathan Jessup ...

Comes to mind every time I see this on the Alte Oper.


Who'da thunk of that?!

Monday, May 15, 2006


The video is precious, especially the first couple of seconds when the Interviewee realizes something is not quite right ... too late, the poor "Guy" who showed up to interview for a job at the BBC is already mic'd up, put in front of a camera, and asked to comment on the court decision settling the dispute between Apple Computer and Apple Corps, Ltd. (The Beatles Record-label, which has been in a trademark infringement suit against Apple Computer for years).

Watch the video here

Read the story in The Mail here.

Quo Vadis, Frankfurt am Main

Did you know that the British Consulate in Frankfurt has been closed? I learned this today in the quest for a translating service that would be acceptable to the local consular office, which I until today thought was here in Frankfurt.

Turns out FfM and Stuttgart have been shuttered, which says something about the direction both of those locations are going in terms of international commerce.

Frankfurt, as you will recall, had pretensions of being "the" financial center of Europe, which was a plausible view given that the UK had kept itself out of the Euro.

I don't know if the Brits outsmarted the Germans or if the Germans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but several years later there seems to be no noticable chink in the armor of London as the financial center of Europe, if not the world, while Frankfurt is nothing more than one of the Borses on the Continent.

So I start the visa process, and I guess I better start "correcting" my spellings of things like "Armour" and "Centre".

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

I'm happy to keep a few plants alive ... I'm in awe of those of you who rear children, especially when I look back at what a brat I was.

Here are a few flowers for you, Mom

The MSM reports that has determined that the job of Mom is grossly underpaid (see their Mom Salary Wizard). Perhaps so, but until Mom can float shares, issue herself stock options, and cook the books, it's always going to be that way.

Meanwhile, Mausi recently gave a great example of the priceless things the compensation experts can't put a price-tag to. Take a look.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Les jours de Pluie
Mon Jardin est Vivant

It's raining, but that's OK, because my Garden is alive.


the olive tree ...

Herbs ...

even the "little ones" are springing ....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Is Home-Schooling a Viable Option in Germany ?

Check out this blurb at DW about the new "Histoire/Geschichte: Europe and the World Since 1945," which will be used to educate your high-school aged kids. Sounds innocent enough, no?

The article points out that one of the "pitfalls" to be overcome was the depiction of the US: "The French found the Germans to be pro-American, and the Germans found our viewpoint to be anti-American," says Guillaume Le Quintrec, one of the Project's co-directors.

Hmmm ... the French think the Germans are Pro-American ... the Germans I know have been amiable to me as a person, but I haven't been experiencing much of the old admiration for America the country lately. And if the Germans think the French are merely anti-American, one can only imagine how bad things really are.

Big Schnitzel Day

Lousy picture ... next time I'll remember to set a higher ISO value. And I didn't take a picture of my own because it was simply too big to hold and photograph. Such problems! But this is not a problem, this is an opportunity ... I get to go back next week in the name of journalistic integrity.

I set out earlier to get a Bratwurst, but when I got to town I realized it was Big Schnitzel Day ... Friday. Yes, I forgot it is Friday. I don't pay attention to these things any more, and would only have remembered if I had watched Boston Legal last night, but I only recorded it so that I could spend some time talking to the Partnerin to make up for being out too late with the "kids" from class the night before. This has become a weekly thing. Shame on me.

So Friday is the day for the Wochenmarkt at the Schiller Strasse. On many Fridays during my working life here, I and a few colleagues (two Americans and my Intern(s), but only one German ... all the others would only venture to the company cantine for lunch) would wander over to the Borse for the Big Schnitzel.

I originally wanted to call this post, "Inflation in Euro Land," but my own eyes were glazing over at the prospect of it. In the old days, pre-Teuro, you could get a decent Schnitzel Brotchen (a fried pork steak-like cut of meat on a roll, optionally swimming with Mustard) for roughly DM 4.50. In those days the Mark was pegged at 1.95583 for each Euro, so a Schnitzelbrotchen cost you roughly EUR 2.30.

When the currency changed over, Schnitzelbrotchen were on the market at EUR 2.50 ... OK, a little opportunism there, but it was worse in the Wurst market, which had gone from DM 3.00 to EUR 3.00 in some places. That was clearly a misreading of the price-elasticity-demand for Bratwurst, and the market settled back to EUR 2.50, where it has been stuck in most places for some time. The Schnitzelbrotchen market, on the other hand, has seen an increase in prices, first to EUR 3.00 a couple years ago, and then to EUR 3.50 a few weeks ago. These folks have discovered they do indeed have pricing power, while the poor Bratwurst vendors have learned that there are many more substitutes, like Schnitzel, for their wares. Gotta love economics.

I would also take the opportunity to pick up veggies and meats for the weekend. The Schnitzel vendor is also the meat vendor. Here you see him hacking away at a couple of Gekochte Ripchen (Translates to cooked ribs, which are pork with a sort of ham-like quality and taste. I love to grill them). I only bought two of the Rippchen, but to do that he had to go to the refrigerator-truck to get a new slab. He returned with that and cut off the not-so-good looking end (they call it scrap in US markets and it is typically thrown away even if it is edible).

Maybe he sensed my annoyance over inflation in the Schnitzel market, or maybe he was having a good day, because after he weighed the two I bought, he said "I'll throw this in for the taste!" Well, what he said was in German, but it was something like that. It was probably EUR 1.50 worth of meat that he could have taken home for dinner himself. Nice touch. So here is a gratuitous plug ... click on the picture to get a larger version. Go there. The meat is good.

And then to wander around and look at the veggies ... It is once again Spargel Season in Germany. Here are the Spargel ... White Asparagus hundreds of them. Germans are mad for the stuff ... I'm toying with writing a book called Spargel Madness. Spargel have even become the topic of political debate, with the Arbeitsagentur (roughly the Department of Labour) insisting that at least 10% of the laborers involved in the harvesting of the stuff be unemployed Germans ... the workforce is currently 100% Auslander.

Farmers complain that Germans won't take the work. Same lame argument as in the US ... Germans will take the work, but not at the paltry rates farmers will pay. I wonder if I would qualify as one of the 10% or if I would still be in the Auslander quota ... doesn't matter, I don't want to pick spargel for EUR 5.00 per hour. I'm not even sure they make that much. But the Partnerin is crazy for Spargel. Maybe I could work a couple hours in barter for the Spargel. It is roughly EUR 6 to 10 per kilo depending on what grade you buy and where you buy it. Hmmm.

Even the Brits get into the action at the Market.

And after all of that, a nice Caramel Frappucino.