In case you didn’t see from my last couple of posts, I’m in Bremen! I caught an insanely early train on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas with my friend Ivana and her family. I spent the full week after Christmas at their house, had tons of fun, and tried lots of new food. Keep scrolling for details!
Making an Angel
Ivana’s father runs a glass shop and Ivana had brought some fancy glass home to make a stained glass angel. I tagged along to watch her make it which was very interesting. First they cut out a pattern from paper, then she picked out some accent glass and her father cut out the pieces and sanded the rough edges. Next she wrapped copper tape around the outside edges of each piece, melted metal over it to attach all the pieces together, and her father welded a chain to the top. A quick wipe down to clean up the glass and the angel was finished. It seems pretty quick and straight forward but the whole process took a couple hours and lots of nitty gritty work that required a lot of patience.
The common thread between Ivana and I is horses; we were both on the high school equestrian team together when she exchanged to America. I’ve been able to stick with the hobby over the years off and on despite moving constantly. Ivana on the other hand has been able to establish herself at a stable not too far from her university and parents house and it was there that she has recently started the sport of vaulting.
Vaulting is basically gymnastics on horseback. It’s very different from most other equestrian sports and something most horse riders will never have the opportunity to properly experience. Understandably, it was my first time trying it out. I think I did pretty good especially considering I hadn’t been on any horse since summer.
It’s pretty difficult to explain all the exercises so I will just link my Instagram video here for you to take a look at. The photo above doesn’t do it justice so I really recommend following the link to see for yourself what the sport is all about. I’ll also link a nonaffiliated Youtube video showing how cool the sport looks once proficient.
Of course, staying with a German family I had the pleasure of trying out lots of new food over the week. I’ve already described Raclette in my Christmas post so check that out it you want to learn about the “make it yourself” style gooey, cheesy goodness.
One night we had Sauerkraut with mashed potatoes and leftover ham. It was so good and let me tell you, if you have only ever tried sauerkraut in the US and didn’t like it, go ahead and try it again in Germany because it’s very different and so good here! There are many different types of Sauerkraut but the one we had was made using white wine and boy was it good. The other thing to note with this meal is that the leftover ham was reheated by sticking it in the pot with the sauerkraut which 1.) added so much more moisture back into the meat and 2.) added a delicious sauerkraut-y flavor to it. Overall, I highly recommend the meal and I’m definitely going to make it for myself again.
At one point we went into a bakery for lunch where I went a bit wild trying all sorts of things I had never seen before in Hesse. One of them was the closest I’ve seen to an American glazed donut in Germany and it’s called a Viktoria. It’s basically a glazed white donut in the shape of a figure 8. The whole thing is incredibly moist, melts in your mouth, and had a hint of citrus to it. Delicious. I hope I stumble upon it again.
Another item I tried there was a kind of cheesy bread. It’s not very exciting but it’s something that people make at home where I’m from so I was curious to see the difference. Overall, it was good, not great; basically just plain bread with fried cheese over the top. A bit greasy but it was good warmed up for breakfast with butter and salami.
Last on the list of new foods I tried in Bremen was Pfannkuchen (which literally translates to pancake). The biggest difference between a German Pfannkuchen and American pancake is 1.) the time of day it’s eaten at and 2.) the toppings that are served with it. In America, a pancake is exclusively eaten for breakfast (unless on the rare occasion one eats “breakfast for dinner”) and most frequently topped with butter and maple syrup or fruits and whipped cream. In Germany, Pfannkuchen is mostly a dinner item and most commonly served with applesauce although a variety of sweet and savory toppings can be used (much the same way a crepe is prepared). At their house I had it first with apple sauce and then again with salami and raclette cheese. Both were delicious although I must say that I don’t think the actual cakes taste any different between the countries.
I’m going to cut this weeks blog post short by a day because on Saturday, New Years Eve, I hopped on a train to Berlin to visit my host mom and see the second biggest celebration in Europe. That post is already half written so it should be up shortly.
Thank you once again Ivana and family for making my Christmas so wonderful. I really enjoyed my stay in Bremen and I can’t wait to see you all again!