As a teenager, I prepared for spending 3 months on student exchange in Germany the way most teenagers would: I didn’t bother with practical lingo like
“Can you please tell me the time?”
“Which way to the main train station?”
I was a teenager and since practical lingo seemed to assume that I would always be late or lost, I scoffed.
Instead, I learned the most important words first.
That is, the yummy words.
Case in point: I easily memorized words like
- Laugenbroetchen (pretzel bun)
- Schwarzwaelderkirschtorte (Black Forest cake) and
- Schlagsahne (whipped cream)
But, I struggled when it came to words like
- ??? (pickled herring)
- ??? (liverwurst) and
- ??? (blood sausage).
I maintain that I am vocabulary-impaired through no fault of my own. My great-great grandfather immigrated to Canada from Germany and opened a bakery. My paternal grandfather spent his childhood twirling pretzels in the family bakery in Kitchener, Ontario–a skill he could still demonstrate decades later with our Play Doh.
Yep, gluten and sugar both flow in my veins (and pool somewhere around my chin, mid-section and bottom).
Luckily, there are more remnants from our familial bakery past than the scapegoats of rubenesque, middle-aged descendants. We have a few artifacts and a fair number of pictures, most of which have been compiled into a book by my father and aunt.
There’s a recipe for approximately 200 pounds of cake, in case I want to invite 1000 of my dearest over for a ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ extravaganza.
Wait, I think I’m on to something there…
Cake festivals aside, I have been meaning to install a sort of Bardon Bakery homage in our kitchen for some time now. It was provoked by the gift of tea towels with one of the Bardon Bakery advertising images, which a friend had screen-printed for my sister, parents and I.
I started to gather some of my favourite of the photos and artifacts from the bakery book to display:
Then of course, I went to IKEA (as you do).
I got a Swedish, red frame to put the German -Canadian bakery photo in.
I’m sure my great-great grandfather would approve.
So, a lovely display of Bardon Bakery nostalgia is finally on the walls near the table. If only I had some
- Laugenbroetchen (pretzel buns)
- Schwarzwaelderkirschtorte (Black Forest cake) or
- Schlagsahne (whipped cream)
I could have a lovely Kaffeeklatsch (afternoon coffee chat) as is the German tradition, right here in my own kitchen.
Of course, since I don’t like coffee, my Kaffeeklatsch-es have always been less Kaffee and more Kuchen…so really, a Kuchenklatsch (afternoon cake chat) or Torteklatsch (afternoon GOOD CAKE–the kind with whipped cream, mousse-and-other-delectable-goodies-inside–chat).
But, since I don’t have any Kuchen or (drat) Torte, we may have to dip into the extremely large care package of German goodies that we received recently from a friend in Lahr:
Choco Crossies (chocolate crispies), Ritter Sport Voll-Nuss (chocolate hazelnut Ritter bars), Lebkuchen (chocolate ginger cookie doo-dahs), Gummibaerchen (gummy bears)…
For some reason, I know ALL these words in German.
Still have no idea how to say
??? (Boiled Beef Tongue).
Today’s mission is to encourage you to spend a sunny afternoon having a picnic in a cemetery.
Oh, now, why are you making that face?Didn’t your mother ever tell you that your face might stick like that? And besides, don’t knock a cemetery picnic ’til you’ve tried it.
Until that lovely day arrives, please, please trust me (have I ever led you astray?): cemetery picnics are great!
We’ve always loved cemeteries in my family, what with our nostalgia thing (on my dad’s side) and our spring cemetery Decoration Day thing (on my mom’s side) and making up outrageous stories about people who lived long ago thing (oh wait, that was me).
Also, I have young parents and they had young parents and they, in turn, also had young parents (that would be my great grandparents now, are you keeping track?) so there’s a lot of living history.
Not to mention birthday cards.
I was lucky, lucky, lucky because my great, great Grandma Jo (that would be my Grandpa Lou’s grandma) lived until she was almost 104.
I was 11 when she died. That’s 11 rare years with my great, great grandmother: the woman who chased my grandpa Lou around when he was a baby.
In the 1920s. Practically yesterday, to Grandma Jo.
She was born in 1876.
That’s a seriously long time ago before world wars and evil, control-top pantyhose and we got to hear all about it, from someone who was there.
How cool is that?
Grandma Jo told stories about her parents and grandparents (that would be my great, great, great grandparents and my great, great, great, great grandparents. Are you keeping track?) and she had pictures because she was the somewhat privileged daughter of a miller/judge.
Who needs ancestry.com when we had Grandma Jo?
Did you know that people in the olden days weren’t all grumpy? Cameras took ages to take the picture and it’s actually really difficult to say CHEEEEEEESE for that long (and besides, their mothers had probably told them that their faces might stick like that).
Also, they had to wear corsets. So, some of those frowns might have been due to a little grumpiness after all, as it strikes me that a corset might be even worse than control-top pantyhose.
Grandma Jo also had a time where she was a frequent fainter, just like I am.
My doctors always say, “you’ll probably live until you’re 100, you’ll just faint a lot”. Little do they know, if my great-great grandma was any indication, I could still be around in 2073.
Wacky to think about. I hope I still have teeth.
Or, at least the ability to eat tomatoes. I lo-o-o-o-ve tomatoes. And goofy hats. I’m definitely wearing goofy hats in 2073.
Anyway, old stuff (and people) don’t freak us out the way they do some families. Hence, the cemeteries.
There is a lovely one, in nearby Prince Edward County, Ontario. It’s right next to equally stunning Chadsey’s Cairn winery (which is currently for sale, so if you’re really inspired by this post, you might want to wander up there for a look-see.)
I picture my friend Pippi spending eternity next to the grapes. Me, I’m more of a water view kind of a gal. I can’t afford it in this life but I’m hoping that by 2073, the afterlife will be cheaper (especially if I agree to share my graveyard with jaunty picnickers.)
The vineyard graveyard was just begging for a picnic but we didn’t have a corkscrew or a lovely bit of fancy cheese, the last time we were there.
I think homemade cinnamon-sugar doughnuts from the stand down the road should count as a picnic, don’t you?
My first almost-grown-up cemetery picnic occurred when I was 15. It was under some big, beautiful trees at Trinity Church, on Wolfe Island, with my friend Gretchen (not really her name). Gretchen lives in Germany where everyone seems to plant their loved-ones’ individual plots completely, which I think is really nice (not to mention tidy) but, not conducive to a picnic.
Wolfe Island is not technically one of The Thousand Islands but it should be, because it’s right next door. It’s just a short ferry-ride from downtown and a picnic in a cemetery is always made even better when a ferry ride is involved.
Gretchen and I sang “In a Country Churchyard” by Chris de Burgh, slightly off-key but enthusiastically, and ate our sandwiches on the grass next to the tombstones.
It was peaceful.
You’re making that face again.
I hope it doesn’t stick like that.