Traveling in the company of forgotten delicacies.

 

 

The weather outside was frightful, but the company on my journey aboard the ICE to Berlin was really delightful. The seats behind me were occupied by two elderly ladies with totally different backgrounds: one had spent most of her life as a nurse in Leipzig in the former GDR, head nurse, she insisted on that distinction, the other one in Cologne as a professor’s wife, Frau Professor would have been the correct way to address her if today’s women’s equality hadn’t outdated this nonsense, anyway, they had totally different views on politics and the GDR’s spying on its own population, strangely, the woman from Leipzig didn’t have a problem with it, to her, all the films Frau Professor mentioned were capitalistic propaganda and wild exaggeration, she rather had a problem with elderly people suffering from their highly insufficient pensions, nobody had to search trashcans for returnable bottles in the GDR, but both had one thing in common, the love for delicacies from their youth, regional specialties that are no longer available: some sort of apple cake with crumbs and a special icing that she loved as a child, for example, or Lungenwurst, a sausage made of calf’s lights, and geräucherte Schweinezunge, smoked pork tongue, all these local recipes sadly seem to be long forgotten, they didn’t stop talking about it, instead of traveling to Berlin they were traveling back in time, to a place where you knew your butcher and baker by name, a much happier place that was offering all of your favourite delicatessen. I wonder if their husbands had kissed them good bye wishing them bon appétit instead of bon voyage.

Delicatessen obsession.

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Last night, I had the best of nightmares, I know, this may sound oxymoronic, but I can’t put it otherwise. You see, in that dream I was back in Paris, wandering the food halls of La Grande Épicerie de Paris, frolicking from aisle to aisle, from sweet to sour, from bread and butter, butter in so many varieties, salted or left alone, from buffalo to goat milk, French or Italian, to cheese, round, square and triangular in shape, looking ever so perfect, as if it didn’t end up on my baguette to be devoured with a glass of Château Whatever-they-have, from Italian pasta in ever such beautifully designed packaging, the agony of deciding which looks best, which pasta in which box, to all this pâté, nothing but pâté from the far left to the far right of your eye, from green teas to black teas, from unknown niche people to Fortnum’s, Kusmi and Mariage Frères, how many more boxes of Queen Anne, Mirabeau and Prince Wladimir can I possibly buy, I’m asking myself while humming “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” in my head, or aloud, I don’t know, out of context obviously, but no, here they all come, and hey, this sage is really aromatic, I’m taking all they have, wondering what to do with it, browsing through recipes in my head while checking out the rest of the store, caviar, oysters and lobster galore, but I pass, there’s Nicaraguan coffee and Sicilian honey to discover, oh those bees must lead happy lives, I’m facing mouthwatering joy and total despair as my basket cannot hold all I want, whatever I do the pyramid of goods is falling apart, over and over again, spreading my stuff on the floor, hindering other people in shiny shoes from walking, kicking it away from me, none of these items were mine to keep, neither the buffalo butter from some place in Italy, nor the pâté I have chosen, not even the organic artichokes of incredible dimensions, and please don’t get me started on what they are doing to my selection of French mustard and marmalades (lemon, grapefruit, orange and lime). I woke up screaming, but, wow, it was good!

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