Happy Thanksgiving!

The origin of Thanksgiving

In the year 1620, a group of 102 men, women and children also known as the Pilgrims, wanted to find religious freedom and they sailed on the Mayflower to a shore in America called Plymouth, Massachusetts. They arrived in America on December 11, 1620. The first winter was very harsh and 55 of the 102 Pilgrims died of hunger or sickness. Thankfully, in the following year some friendly Indians called Wampanoag helped them by teaching them how to grow corn, how to harvest berries, and where and how to hunt and fish. Because of this the next harvest was good and the Pilgrims had enough food to store for the next winter. In October, 1621 they celebrated the first Thanksgiving to thank God for helping them. In 1863, US President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day to be a national holiday. He proclaimed the last Thursday of November an official day of celebration.

Why Thanksgiving Day is my favorite Holiday

hamThe spirit of Thanksgiving has endured throughout the years and has made it one of the most important holidays in the USA.

Born to an American mom and a German dad, my life has been shaped a lot around American holidays and traditions and my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. To me it’s special time of the year with memorable moments, as different things are shared on this special day: preparations, typical smells of homemade dinner rolls and sweet pies spiced with cinnamon and cloves. I love the warm comfortable atmosphere, good conversations, family quality time and friends coming to visit and not to forget all the delicious food like roast turkey, baked ham, cranberries and sweet potatoes.

What did the chicken say on Thanksgiving Day?
What did the chicken say on Thanksgiving Day?
The chicken said: “hey!”,
I’m glad I’m not a turkey
I’m glad I’m not a turkey on “Thanksgiving Day“

Same procedure as every year

The turkey and ham are ordered a week before. Even though Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the last Thursday in November, my family celebrates Thanksgiving on a Saturday. It would not be possible during the week here in Germany. We prepare pumpkin and pecan pies the day before. The first thing to be done on Saturday is to pick up the turkey at the local poultry farmer, as it’s too big to fit in the fridge! The bird weighs 8-9 kg, as we’re always a big group getting together in the evening. The bird is prepared and stuffed with old-fashioned bread stuffing and put into the oven. One hour for each kilogram – makes nine in total. Only then can we begin with the cranberry sauce, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and the vegetable sticks.

What did the rabbit say on Thanksgiving Day?
What did the rabbit say on Thanksgiving Day?
The rabbit said: “hey!”,
I ‘m glad I’m not a turkey
I ‘m glad I’m not a turkey on “Thanksgiving Day“

Getting ready for the feast

TurkeySlowly but surely the house fills; family first, to help with cleaning up and laying the table and then the friends arrive around five o’clock. Everybody mingles. The whole house smells amazing. We’re all starving since we haven’t eaten much during the day in order to have enough space in our stomachs for the feast. Finally we gather around the beautifully laid-out dinner table and say grace.

The tension increases when the star of the evening is taken out of the oven. How did it turn out? Is the meat juicy, tender and the skin crisp? This delicious smell of cooked turkey adds to the other aromas in the air: scents of stuffing with celery and sage, toasted marshmallows and candied sweet potatoes, roasted sizzling ham and red wine.  My brother-in-law cuts the turkey. When everybody has filled their plates we finally start.

Yummy!

What did the turkey say on Thanksgiving Day?
What did the turkey say on Thanksgiving Day?
The turkey said „hey!”,
It’s tough to be a turkey
It’s tough to be a turkey on “Thanksgiving Day.” (Carolyn Graham, Holiday Jazz Chants)

Time for dessert

cakeHaving eaten far too much, we start emptying the table, put the leftovers in containers to go, and pick off the last pieces of the turkey meat for turkey sandwiches the next day. Before we get ready for the sweet finale, we retell the story of the first Thanksgiving or we take a moment and write down what we are thankful for. Then it is time to enjoy the pies.

Author & Pictures: Elisabeth Stützel

Typically “Gaijin”

I guess there aren’t many people who hjapaneseave never been to a sushi place or Japanese restaurant at least once in their lifetime. The colorful rice rolls have become more and more popular over the past years, as the vast offer of different restaurants in Augsburg alone suggests! Japanese food such as sushi, just to name one of the many different and delicious dishes Japanese cuisine has to offer, also represents a part of Japanese culture. If you not only want to show respect this, but also the effort the itamae (the sushi chef) is putting into your dish, it’s important to eat it the way it’s supposed to be eaten – otherwise you might come across as a rude gaijin (jap. 外人, lit. translates to “person from outside”, “outsider”). The word has a very strong negative connotation and has been used to describe non-Japanese people, especially western people. Today, though, it’s being replaced by the more formal gaikokujin (jap. 外国人, “person from a foreign country”).

So, to get the most out of your sushi-eating experience, whether in Germany, in one of our lovely Japanese restaurants, or in Japan itself, try to avoid the five following no-gos!

1. Don’t cut your sushi into smaller pieces with your chopsticks – If possible, try to eat the sushi in one bite, as the chef always creates a balanced piece of the delicious food. For example, eat a bit of pickled ginger before switching to another type of sushi in order to neutralize the taste and prepare your palate for the next sensation.

2. Speaking of chopsticks – Don’t pierce your sushi (or rice in a bowl) with them and leave them standing vertically – This is a sign of death and is considered very rude.

3. Don’t put wasabi into the soy sauce and blend them – Soy sauce and wasabi should never be mixed. Put a little wasabi on your sushi and then dip it into the soy sauce. And nigiri sushi usually doesn’t require any extra wasabi, as there is already a thin layer between the rice and the fish.

4. Don’t eat sashimi with your hands – Sashimi, raw pieces of fish without rice, are not supposed to be eaten with your fingers. Use your chopsticks! However, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat nigiri sushi with your hands, to avoid destroying its delicate structure.

5. Don’t dip nigiri into the soy sauce rice side first – The integrity of the rice will be destroyed if you do. Instead, dip it into the sauce upside-down, and eat it this way, too, so that the fish hits your taste buds first.

Paying attention to these few things will make your dinner more authentic and a blast, not only for you and your friends, but also for the restaurant staff! Appreciating another culture is not difficult, so why not start by doing so with appropriate eating etiquette?

And don’t forget: Have fun, and don’t be THAT person! 🙂

Author & Picture: Mélanie Fournier

“Twist, lick, dunk” – Small, but oh my!

OreoBannerOreo is the most popular cookie in the US and it’s no wonder there’s even a National Oreo Day, March 6th! The variety of Oreo products is huge and Google hits are overflowing with an infinite number of recipe ideas. Whilst the US is totally oreonized, the supply in German shelves is a complete joke. But hey, we do have at least four to five choices at our shops and we live in the era of online shopping, anyway, don’t we? But what makes this little cookie so special?

Cookie of a respectable age

Without any doubt, you can take your hat off to the cookie’s proud age of 104 years. Launched by Nabisco company in 1912, Oreo is ten years older than Germany’s famous Haribo gummi bear. The idea of two chocolate-flavoured wafers filled with a vanilla-flavoured cream wasn’t that new, though, at the time. Oreo’s manufacturers were probably a little too inspired by the Hydrox cookie, that had been produced since 1908 by Sunshine company. Well, Oreo’s sales were better, and thus they outdid Hydrox.

OreoTwistLickDunk resizedTwist or dunk?

Tell me how you eat your Oreo and I’ll tell you who you are. No, just kidding. But still, you can’t just scoff the whole cookie. I mean, this would almost be an offence. Come on, Oreo’s catchy ad already tells you how to eat it. First, twist off one side, then lick the creamy middle and finally dunk the wafers into milk. Let’s do it! Of course, you’ll find fine print somewhere on the package that says: twist the wafers with sensitivity, best of all over a huge dish, unless you enjoy hoovering, and don’t drown the wafers in your milk, unless you want to lose half of your cookie in it. Ugh!

OreoSignsOreo emblem

Very well then, let’s pretend we’ve followed these unwritten eating instructions. But have you ever noticed the cookie’s design before, or have you simply lived from package to milk to mouth so far? Never mind. Oreo owes its current design, which dates back to 1952, to William A. Turnier. It looks a bit like a mystical emblem, followed by several intriguing speculations: is there a connection with the Knights Templar? Some people recognise a number of cross pattees around the word Oreo and a two-bar cross that might symbolise the Cross of Lorraine. Others say the word Oreo is surrounded by four-leaf clovers, and the two-bar cross represents the former European symbol for quality. Well, in my opinion the two-bar cross simply looks like an arrow going through the word Oreo. Only humbug?

Vegan gold bar

Delicious and always a joy to eat, and, needless to say, a big earner. Hence O-r-e-o? “Or” – the French word for gold. In the end, though, it’s simply cream between two chocolate wafers. And, last not least, a big hooray for all vegans and lactose intolerant people: Oreo is vegan!OreoGoldBar resized

Author & pictures: Melanie Schuster

It’s not about the money

We all know this problem: the desire to discover new places in the world, see as much as you can, but without much cash. So what do most backpackers do? They save their money on food: fast food, instant noodles or sandwiches. Anything that‘s easy to prepare and that fills your tummy.

But when I was in Sydney, I discovered a place where you can get really good restaurant food, even on a small travel budget. Lentil as Anything is a non-profit-making organisation which runs six pay-as-you-feel restaurants in Australia. Their philosophy is that everyone should have the opportunity to eat out and be social, regardless of their financial situation.

When you enter the restaurant, it’s a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The furniture is simple but modern, designed with much love and creativity. The walls are covered with paintings and other artwork. Every table has a menu that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on the time of the day. You might expect that the low costs mean it’s automatically self-service, but I was more than surprised that after a few minutes a friendly waitress came to our table to take our order.  We felt like guests at her house and she was inviting us for dinner.

The people working in Lentil as Anything are all volunteers or long-term unemployed. Or backpackers. For two weeks of helping out in the restaurant, backpackers can get free accommodation and, of course, a warm meal. And the meals are not only more nutritious and diversified, but also much healthier than a Big Mac Menu at McDonalds.

One aim of the restaurant is to promote multiculturalism, which is also reflected in the food. It’s basically a mix of everything. One customer is having Indian curry for breakfast, while at another table people are having scrambled eggs with bacon. And, of course, there are vegan meals too. And if you‘re still hungry, you can order the banana pancakes with syrup (which I can only recommend!). Before you leave, you can think about how much money you want to spend and put in in the box. And if you want or if you can’t spend anything at all, then you simply don’t put anything in the box.

Now you may be asking the same question that came to my mind after visiting this place: how can the place survive? Can, in today’s society, such a model make enough money to pay the rent, utilities and stock? Apparently it is. The philosophy has been working for over thirteen years now and in the last five years three new restaurants have been opened.

Surprisingly, people who visit the restaurant are not only homeless or backpackers, but also families with a normal income, who get the chance to take their children to a restaurant to enjoy good food more often. And that‘s how donations are collected.

So, for your next trip remember that a small travel budget does not necessarily have to mean that you can’t afford to eat out in a restaurant – the pay-as-you-feel philosophy is becoming more and more popular in all parts of the world, and who knows, maybe there‘s a similar place at your next destination 😉

Author & pictures: Carina Lamb

An ode to ice cream

20160715_205335I like ice cream a whole lot.
It tastes good when days are hot.
On a cone or in a dish,
this would be my only wish,
vanilla, chocolate, or rocky road,
even with pie a la mode.

 

 

These are the wise words of budding poet Vada Sultenfuss, lead character of the coming-of-age classic My Girl. In this little poem, she sums up what practically the whole world thinks when it comes to ice cream. And her words couldn’t be more fitting than right now, since July is National Ice Cream Month in the USA. And even though it seems like there is no such thing in Germany, I still think we should celebrate it anyway. Probably every person on the planet loves ice cream to some extent, and so it’s great to see that there are still some things that unite everyone in times of division (of course, there is also enough to fight about when it comes to ice cream, but that’s a different story).

Let’s focus on the positive side of it all, for example, the fact that eating ice cream makes us happy. Or that it contains many nutrients like B vitamins and proteins. What’s more, ice cream lessens the negative effects of stress and also reduces the risk of suffering from cancer.

So everything would be absolutely perfect if the ice cream industry didn’t insist on driving a popsicle stick through an ice cream lover’s heart like mine every now and then by suspending the production of a favorite kind of ice cream, in my case Langnese Cremissimo’s Gone with the Wind Ice Cream. However, I quickly managed to mend my broken heart by binge eating the birthday cake ice cream made by Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. Believe
me – their ice cream is to die for and if you’re ever in Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston, or Nashville
you just have to check it out.

So no matter if you’re a popsicle addict or a gelato lover, in the end we should all just celebrate the divinity of ice cream. It’s (Inter)National Ice Cream Month after all.

Author & Pictures: Alisa Lechky

World Veggie Day: Five random facts about vegetarianism

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day. Time to brush up on your knowledge about vegetarianism! But why stick to the “boring” facts that everyone knows anyhow? Here are some pretty random but fun facts about vegetarians and vegetarianism. Enjoy!

Number of Vegetarians
Well, maybe not so random, but still a cool thing to know: According to the 2014 Meat Atlas, published by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung and Friends of the Earth Europe, there are currently more than 400 million vegetarians and vegans living worldwide. The largest number lives in India (roughly 375 million). But in the States and Europe, there are also more and more vegetarians. The German Vegetarian Organization Vegetarierbund Deutschland (VEBU) estimates that about 7.8 million Germans are vegetarians, and around 900,000 are vegans.

Vegetarianism in Religion
Believe it or not, there are actually religions that promote vegetarianism or even make it mandatory! Most of them originated in India — no wonder more than 30 percent of their population is vegetarian. The strictest is called Jainism. Jains aren’t allowed to eat anything that contains a dead animal body. So no meat AND no eggs. In Hinduism and Buddhism there are some schools that don’t allow the consumption of meat. And there are even some Christian groups that encourage their members to be vegetarian. Which brings us to the next point…

The First Vegetarian Society
Yes, there actually is a vegetarian society! It was founded as early as 1847 in England, and is thus the oldest vegetarian organization worldwide. Many of its early members were inspired by Reverend William Cowherd, who belonged to the Bible Christian Church and promoted vegetarianism. According to their homepage, the Vegetarian Society aims to inform people about the vegetarian diet and help them to maintain it. Oh, and they even have a cookery school!

Famous Vegetarians
What do Einstein, Aristotle, Kafka and Gustave Flaubert have in common? Yup, they all were vegetarians. But it’s not just these “old souls” that did without meat. Apparently, celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, Paul McCarthy and Kim Basinger have dedicated themselves to vegetarianism. If you wanna find out if your favorite celebrity is one of the many vegetarians and vegans in the world of glitz and glam, here’s a full list.

Why Do We Say “Vegetarian”?
The word “vegetarian” is said to have been in use since the early 19th century and was probably hugely promoted by the Vegetarian Society. Some say it is a compound of vegetable and the commonly used suffix -arian — which actually seems pretty logical. But then there are some people who say it derives from the Latin word “vegetus” which can be translated as invigorating, lively, active and energetic. Where it actually comes from – oh well – we’ll probably never know. Maybe someone just woke up one day and thought the term “vegetable diet” sounded boring and then came up with a new word!

Text & picture: Nadine Ellinger

Fighting food waste – Foodsharing in Augsburg

foodwaste 1

I recently read an article in the Augsburger Allgemeine about food waste in Germany: nearly 2 tons of food were thrown away in 10 days at the Mensa of Uni Augsburg! And when I worked at a greengrocer’s in Augsburg, I was able to take a look “behind the scenes” of the food industry. So I saw with my own eyes how much food is actually wasted and how much everything in our capitalist society is based on making a profit. I was shocked when I looked into the garbage cans behind the shop, filled with food that – in my eyes – was still edible. But in other people’s eyes, this food had to be thrown away, because it didn’t look good enough to be put on display in a shop. I came to the conclusion that shopkeepers often don’t value the food they sell– for them, it’s only about making money.

That’s why I think supporting projects like “Foodsharing” is important. Foodsharing is a non-profit organization founded in Germany and their aim is to reduce the waste of resources and food. On the website www.foodsharing.de you can check for “Essenskörbe”, which are posted by people who have food to share. In their post, they describe what they can give away and where you could pick it up. Anyone who is interested can contact this person in order to pick up the food at their place. In the same way, you can offer food to other people via the foodsharing website.

foodwaste 2Also it’s possible to share food via a “Fair-Teiler”, a store room with a fridge which is publically accessible. Food donations can be deposited there, to be collected by anyone interested. Another step in participating actively in foodsharing is becoming a “foodsaver”, which means going to shops which have made an agreement with foodsharing and picking up food they would normally throw away. The foodsavers collect the saved food and share it with their family, friends, neighbors and donate it to social projects.

There are certain rules you have to respect when participating in foodsharing, the most important being that the food you share with the community must still be of good quality to eat. Furthermore, foodsavers commit themselves to collecting the food from shops on a regular basis (In order to become a foodsaver, you need to pass a quick exam on the website and you need to complete three test collections from shops). If not, the shopkeepers would soon lose their interest in giving the food away, because it’d mean extra time and work for them. Another principle is, that alcohol cannot be shared in the Fair-Teiler, because the age of the people who pick up the food cannot be monitored.

In Augsburg, there is a growing foodsharing community. There are several foodsavers and two Fair-Teiler stations, one of them in the Grandhotel Cosmopolis. The Facebook group “Foodsharing Augsburg”, in which ideas about foodsharing are shared and Essenskörbe are linked, has over 2100 members.

foodwaste 3
Personally, I have made use of foodsharing in several occasions and I think it is a wonderful idea. How many students wouldn’t want to save a bit of cash? I always finish my helping. The awareness of the effort it needed for my food to get on the plate, that it had to be planted, watered, harvested, processed and finally cooked, hinders me from just throwing it away. However, there are still a lot of people who apparently don’t mind, or, who are simply not mature enough to know how much they can eat.

I hope that those people who aren’t bothered about our resources are bothered with our current weather and keep the good old German proverb in mind: “If you finish your plate, the sun will shine tomorrow!” We’d really need this to happen. And also, that the food they’re throwing away could save people from starving, in other parts of the world…

Author: Sabrina Huck
Pictures: Elke Thiergärtner (Foodsharing Augsburg)