A part of my year here in Germany (a large part, as it turns out) is going to be spent investigating things that I can’t immediately explain. I am hoping I discover some things this year about how Germany does things that can inform how we can do things BETTER in America. This has been my assumption from day one, what better reason to go to a differnet country for a year, than to see how their culture, science, policy, discourse, etc. compares to ours? What I had not appropriately considered is that…there will be no easy answers. There will be lots of observations and questions, but putting answers to those questions and meaning to those observations will require a lot of research…which can’t even really begin until I know the language well enough to have in depth conversations with people who understand these things. So, first in the case files, first in the category of “Things that I need to find out more about because this bothers me on some level,” is:
Why does cauliflower have a taste in Germany? We had cauliflower at Inka’s father’s place for dinner one night, and it was delicious. This was astonishing to me because when I think of cauliflower, I assume that it tastes like…Ranch dressing or nacho cheese, or whatever dip you are serving with tasteless vegetables. And it was when I had this dish that I realized, this is kind of common in Germany. Often, things that I assume have no taste, or have no discernable taste, HERE, they do. Here, tomatoes taste like something, carrots taste like something, sweet corn is actually sweet. It’s incredible. it turns out, I love the taste of vegetables. And now that I think about it, if you had asked me before if I liked vegetables I would have said no, but not because I didn’t like the taste; but because they didn’t taste like anything.
Across the board, the food here is far more fresh and tasty. Obviously there is no simple or pithy reason for ALL food tasting better in Germany than it does in America. But it is something I would like to know more about. We went to the ocean and I enjoyed fish broetchen (fish sandwich) for the first time in my life.
This was fresh and delicious. And I assume the reason for that–the fish probably DID go from the sea, to the fryer, to my mouth–is kind of the same reason that cauliflower tastes like something. I assume that Germany has a higher quality way of doing agriculture than we do in America.
Take, for example, Exibit C: Schweinshaxe! “Pig Leg!” It was delicious. It was so delicious. And it occurred to me a couple weeks ago that I mainly have pig-related foods. Pig would be the main meat in Germany, then chicken, and beef is at the bottom of the list. I heard a report on NPR before I left America that said there are literally millions of wild pigs in Germany. So, as opposed to cattle farms in America, which is where a lot of my meat comes from in America, where they are doing terrible things to make the cattle produce as much money as possible, here the majority of the meat I am eating comes from WILD animals. I think. This could be totally false. And, even if it’s not, I’m sure there are farmed animals in the mix as well, but I am also sure that they are taken care of…differently…if not better than in the US. You can literally taste the difference.
So what is in our food? What is not in our food? Where does it come from and what is the process that goes into making it? Let the investigation begin!