Last Sunday found me back home in NYC. For the time being. Not really grounded; I am quite free to leave at the slightest whim, so I tell myself. But while the wanderlust may not be totally sated, sometimes even the biggest travel bugs find appeal in staying in one place for a good three month stretch. That doesn't at all mean, however, that future adventures aren't already in the works: Possibly da UP in early June, Scandinavia in August... what all will the future hold?
Feet and place have found their connection, and as the jet lag dissipates, the head is slowly catching up. I'm always entertained by the degree of culture shock experienced even coming back from a place as westernized as urban Germany. Being kerplopped down amidst the silliest of hipster playgrounds in the known universe only enhances the sensation. I have thought at many instances these last few days about the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, specifically Arthur's line following the "Knights of the Round Table" musical number:
"On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place."
Not that Germans don't have their share of silly going for them, but we're speaking simply of gradients here.
I've found that a certain portion of my Deutschland withdrawal has been culinary. Breakfast, lunch, and intermittent snacking consistently included either a piece of bread or a toastie (English muffins for the rest of us) topped with a number of combinations of creamcheese, other cream dips/sauces (they have so many!), salami or sausages, tomatoes, and mettwurst. I'm not sure how many of these things are particularly German or just favorites of the household, but the latter clearly is. I've grown quite an affinity for mettwurst, a raw, smoked, cured, and spreadable sausage. It's not the easiest thing to find on this side of the ocean, but thanks to the Polish meat markets around here, not impossible either. Regardless of German-ness, tomato and cream cheese on a toastie as become a staple of the breakfast process, and thankfully easy to continue.
Another recently-formed addiction is that of laugenbrötchen. It's heavy, the satisfaction that comes from these guys, maybe even heavier than mettwurst. And what's worst about them (ha) is that I can't seem to find them anywhere around here. They're dangerous, possibly the best snack ever at any time of the day: a salty, chewy bun made with the same dough as used to make pretzels, best when still glowing with a touch of warmth. Apparently they're named such because they receive a coating with a lye solution before baking (Lauge = lye). Who knew? While this doesn't seem like the most logical of practices, it sure tastes good, so I see no reason to complain. And it doesn't hold a candle to the senselessness of lutefisk.
Though I did indulge in the currywurst while in Berlin as already implied, I haven't felt any such residual jones after cutting myself. Been there, done that, time to move on. Like Bill Clinton and pot.
On the other hand, I now have, uhh... 24-hour access to all the processed food I could ever want?? Yeah. Ok, good sushi. I think that's easier to find here. Especially good sushi right around the corner from my front door. Maybe houses of adventurous culinary practice as well. Indeed. New York is great.
Ok, I could've used another week or so in Berlin, a night train to Prague, or maybe a quick hop over to Greece or back to Lisbon. Once into the groove of traveling, it's hard to accept its conclusion. But I'm here, spring in New York is fast approaching, and there's no lack of things to do around these parts. As mentioned before, there are plenty of Euro-brain-droppings queued up in this head of mine, and I shall work through my unsettled separation by voiding them here. And so, from the Greenpoint control room, until the next.