Monthly Archives: June 2012

Germany’s secret cuisine with asparagus and strawberries

At this time of year, wherever you travel in Germany, you will find odd little stalls everywhere.  It’s that season of the year you see. The strawberry and asparagus season.

Strawberrys and asparagus

Just another one of those 24-hour strawberry and asparagus places…

What appears odd to the non-German, is that these stalls only sell strawberries and asparagus. Nothing else.

This of course sparked my curiosity, because as they say… what’s sold together, goes together. Do the Germans have a whole range of secret culinary gems which use strawberries and asparagus in the same dish?

So I called upon Uncle Google and discovered literally dozens of recipes including:

Strawberry and Asparagus Risotto

Strawberry and Asparagus Salad

Coley with Strawberries and Asparagus

Caramellised Asparagus with Strawberries and Ice Cream

Asparagus in a Strawberry Vinagrette

Asparagus and Strawberry seller

Germany’s secret cuisine…

So I shall be racing along to the nearest late-night strawberry and asparagus place to stock up…   there’s a whole new German secret cuisine to discover!


Filed under About Germany, asparagus, food, Life in Germany

A most exclusive German kiosk

One of Germany’s greatest institutions is the pavement kiosk.  Everyone in the neighbourhood stops off to pick up a newspaper, cigarettes, chocolate or ice cream.

But in the well-heeled end of Meererbusch where the wealthiest bankers, company directors and celebrities reside, the local Büdchen (kiosk) takes on a new twist.  Industrialists, financiers and wags do not just grab a quick Mars bar on their way to the station.  They do not pause for a tin of cola while walking their dog.

So the canny kiosk vendors of Meererbusch have had to take their offering upmarket.  Next time you jog the pavements of the leafy villa district, do remember to stop off for a quick snorter of restorative champagne en route.

Champagne kiosk

A packet of Lucky Strike and a bottle of your finest Sekt, Kumpel!

Or if, as a member of the super-rich elite, you feel a snack-attack coming on, do tarry for a spot of caviar, just to keep body and soul together.

Meerbusch kiosk

Merciful relief for those suffering a caviar-attack!

And of course, they do serve a rather acceptable cup of coffee to local residents, if it should happen to be the butler’s day off.

Meererbusch büdchen

Tobacconist to the super-wealthy

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Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany

Electric bobby-cars in Düsseldorf

I was out and about in Düsseldorf this week when I spotted a rather funky little vehicle parked in the multi-storey car-park on the Carlsplatz.

Electric car

From the nation which brought you the Porsche 911….

Now obviously Germans are usually a bit picky about their cars. Brands like Audi, Mercedes, Daimler-Benz, Porsche… all tend to head into the territory which marketers like to call “aspirational.”

So I was a bit flummoxed by the appearance of what looked like a complete Noddy-car in the midst of all the serious looking black prestige vehicles.  A three-wheel one-seater, designed to look more like a grasshopper than a limousine.

On closer inspection, all became clear. This was a green car.  It runs on electricity rather than fossil fuel.  This little chap was docked into the re-charging station, getting its batteries ready for its next trip.

Green vehicle

Electro-car recharging station

There are a handful of these docking stations scattered around Düsseldorf these days.  With petrol prices where they are, maybe we’ll start to see people swapping the Mercedes for one of these little bobby-cars.


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A question of armpits

When it comes to prejudices between European nations, there is nothing as prone to cause a stink as the contentious subject of body odour.

The British, for instance,  know for a fact, even before they are old enough to speak English properly, that the French do not wash.

Actually this is not true.  Just over 70% of French people shower at least once a day, compared to… oh dear… only about 60% of Brits.

But what about the Germans, over there second from the right? Meine Gute! Can it be that fewer than half of German men and only just over half of German women take a shower on a daily basis?

Dear readers… before you reach for the clothes peg and jam it firmly onto your nose… consider the following. The Germans do not need to rely on soap and water. They have hidden weaponry in their personal hygiene armour.

Let me explain. I give you exhibit 1. A typical British deodorant.

Exhibit 1: British combined anti-perspirant and deodorant. 24 Hours of protection. No more….

The British roll on is designed to prevent stinky armpits for a period of 24 hours. No more. It combines anti-perspirant and deodorant, which is like belt-and-braces. The manufacturer assumes that within a 24 hour period the consumer will have made it as far as a bathroom and washed off any malodorous whiff.

And now, I give you exhibit 2. A selection of German deodorants.

Exhibit 2: German deodorant. How long would you like it to last? 48 hours? 72 hours? How long do you want to go after sport without showering?

Germans, it seems, cannot be trusted to make it to the shower within a 24 hour period.  So applying perfect Teutonic logic, the nation’s deodorant manufactuers have developed turbo-deodorant so suit all eventualities. You can choose a 48 hour deodorant, for those who like to shower only every other day… or even the Godfather of all deodorants … the 72 hour sport-proof deodorant. It may dissolve your armpits… but hey! So long as you don’t make your Dirndl smelly, all will be well.

German deodorant manufacturers are even considerate enough to provide a special roll-on for those who shave their armpits… and a “natural” version – presumably for those who hark back to the furry-underarm rock-chick days of Nena in the ’80s.

In Germany it is rare, however, to find a combined anti-perspirant and deodorant. Any German will tell you, that it is not healthy to restrict the body’s ability to sweat. Apply a deo, by all means, to mask the stench. But do not even think about inhibiting the sweat glands.

That is…unless you are a seriously bathroom-allergic German. In this case, the producers of German hygiene products do have the anti-perspirant for you. Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause for the five-day active anti-perspirant.  You can virtually say goodbye to bathing altogether!


Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany