My New Friend: the Geez

The Hamburg kitchen is pretty well up and running – emphasis on the running what with the working sink and drain and all! An official dinner was produced in said kitchen today. Apparently I’m starting conservatively, as this dinner menu could fairly easily double as an excellent backpacking recipe:
Good cheeses (I made a friend! At the cheese shop! Downstairs! He’s a geezer who runs the shop and is immune to the choking fumes that billow out of the cheese case, and I am a fish whose water is milk. A milk fish. Milk fish don’t mind milk-steam so I’m OK with the cheese shop funk. T compared it to the smell in his car after he left a hunk of runny cheese in for a week in the summer; he liked it. He is a milchfisch, too, I think. Notable: the cheese shop sells nothing but cheese, and only certain kinds of cheese. No bread, no fig confit, no mustard. No fresh cheeses! No bufalo mozzerala in water, no Turkish or Greek feta, no fresh farmer’s cheese. Also no refridgerated cases; the cheese shop is all one temperature, all the better for funkification.)
Fig compote, bread, wine.
A Composed Salad:
–a can of haricots melanges (mixed beans, in the somewhat less-sexy English. You could use any canned bean here, I think: garbanzo, broad white, whatever,) drained and piled in the middle of a platter,
–ripe roma tomatoes, cut into something like 1cmx2cm dice,
–English or hothouse or in my case Turkish cucumbers, cut lengthwise into sixths and then sliced into roughly 1/4 inch pieces,
–flat leaf parsley and mint, a big handful of each, roughly chopped and tossed together,
–a large shallot cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced very thinly.
All of these were piled in a very segregationist manner onto a blue platter that I love dearly and which came to Germany wrapped in every sheet, towel and comforter I own. God knows how I’m going to transport the stemware… luckily that’s a project for Future Betsy, and my Mom and Dad told me when I was little that she can do anything if she works hard enough.

I made a mustard vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar and very fruity olive oil. I added a few tablespoons of the herbs to the dressing, and then poured it over all of the piles on the platter. This made the piles go from a glossy gorgeous to a grimly good. Maybe next time I’ll put the dressing on the bottom of the platter? Or in a seperate dish?
Anyway, it tasted like food that you would be proud to introduce to your parents: good and decent but fun enough to be likable.

Now I’m finished with the washing up, I’m drinking the last bit of wine, and I’m going to bed to save energy for digging through the boxes to find the baking dishes for tomorrow’s roast chicken…

p.s. a nice city worker came to the flat today to install meters on the radiators. He commented first on the loveliness of the apartment, which is a 1903 fifth-floor walk-up, before saying, “A lot of stairs! You won’t live here when you’re eighty.” Today alone, those stairs have prevented me from ducking out for a quick post-prandial tiramisu. Damn right, I won’t be putting up with 47 more years of eating fucking raisins as my after-dinner sweet. Dear Future Betsy: put chocolate on the shopping list, please.

Tint, Tone and Kraken

As may be abundantly clear, most of the German I know has to do with food. I’m working on the gazillion names for fish; currently I’m in the cephalopods. Here’s where I got yesterday:

Tintenfisch is a small octopus. Octopi have ink. Ink tints things. Got it?

Sepia is a somewhat larger octopus. Octopi have ink. Ink tints things. Sometimes, the result is a sepia tone. Got it?

Kraken is a much larger octopus. These are the kind that seafarers* are afraid of. This is easy to remember if you think of Kracken as KRAKEN! Got it? No? Try saying KRAKEN! loud enough that someone can hear you in a crowded bar, and do some judo hand moves for emphasis. Still no? Try this:
Fill a rocks glass most of the way with ice
Add two parts ginger ale and one part Kracken rum
Squeeze a lime in, give it a stir.
Say KRAKEN! some more.
Repeat until you’ve got it.

*It just took me to waaaay too long to think of the way to degenderize ‘seamen’. Part of that time was spent playing with the word sealady, emphasis on the second syllable, as in, “Can I get that door for ye, sealady?” And then she just says “Aaaargh.”