Over time after moving out from my parents, my love for cooking has considerably grown. To begin with, pasta with stir through sauce and sliced cheese was my speciality, or alternatively veggie burgers with some kind of noodles (i reasoned that I got all my nutrients from the burger). I cooked a roast for my ex once, and required my mother to basically cook it for me (thus probably rendering the ‘I cooked a roast’ bit of that sentence a lie), and I’ll never be allowed forget the time I used sugar instead of flour when trying to make a pudding and ended up with the sweetest chocolatey liquid drink I’ve ever tasted.
But moving to London, I found myself rather enjoying the idea of cooking gourmet food, and things that in the past I had bought from the frozen section in the supermarket. Homemade fish and chips worked their way into my recipe book, and what was a love in Australia for going to Chinese restaurants turned into a love for Chinese cooking. The ready-made stir fry sauces at Sainsburys didn’t quite cut it, and I started getting excited over going to Asian supermarkets and making all my sauces and experimenting like a mad scientist.
I mastered the perfect English roast with yorkshire puddings and everything, thanks to my UK flatmates lending a helping hand, and as a result was in charge of the New Years Eve roast when a group of us got a house together in Devon. For the record, Jamie Oliver’stip of putting a lemon in the chicken is genius. And another definite highlight in my cooking experiences would be achieving a gingerbread house, which took a week and three attempts, but was well worth it for the end result.
So arriving in Frankfurt, one of my most anticipated things to do was to go supermarket shopping for the first time. This was a rather delayed trip, as I stayed with the boy for two weeks while I found a place to live. By coincidence his mother was getting a new German visa, and while she is normally based in Russia, she was staying with us as well. Her cooking was pretty amazing, and equally intimidating. Let’s just say I won’t be trying to compete with her many variations of meat and potatoes.
But back to German cooking – one of the few positive things my ex taught me in our relationship was how to make spaghetti carbonara. It’s one of the easiest meals to make, and I don’t use cream, just egg and cheese (as demonstrated here), and I can make it with bacon or salmon or sausages. It’s quickly become one of my favourite meals to cook.
But while in London the sausage version was often created because it was nearly pay day and I was too broke for the other options, in Germany the sausages are so damn good that this feels more like the gourmet version. And with all the ingredients for this meal easy to find in a supermarket without much knowledge of the language, it’s become a staple for me.
Which brings me to the biggest challenge I’ve found in Frankfurt – none of the food has English wording on it, which I knew would be the case, but I never realised just how hard it would be to find things I needed. Baking soda? Still have no idea what that is. I’ve found Backpulver, which is apparently baking powder, but a lot of forums seem to tell me it’s different somehow.
I had a tooth issue a few weeks ago, and couldn’t eat anything solid for three days, which led me to going through the soup isles with complete confusion. The one I eventually picked appeared to be a smooth meat soup, and turned out to be oxtail, which wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.
Another thing I’m finding particularly challenging is the lack of variety of vegetables. It doesn’t seem that people in Frankfurt cook stir-fries like is the staple of busy Londoners. The first meal I cooked for the boy was a chicken stir-fry with green curry sauce, and he commented how easy it looked to make like he’d never seen it before.
Another meal he’s never tried before I moved to Frankfurt was fish and chips – once we got past the fact that it was very unhealthy, he couldn’t understand why people would eat this at the beach. “It’s hot at the beach, and this is hot! Why don’t you eat ice cream??” He argued, and I sort of saw his point to be honest. I didn’t even attempt to explain why we put newspaper around it – but luckily there is an English fish and chip shop in Wiesbaden, south west of Frankfurt, which I will be showing him soon so he can see exactly what it is we do in England/Australia.
Last week the boy was ill, and so I brought over some homemade chicken soup (usingthis recipe - delicious). While at his house, his brother came home with some sausages, and insisted we both try it – as I was eating it and quite enjoying it, he explained it was horse meat. When I said in Britain there were a lot of issues over eating horse, they both looked at me like I had two heads.
And so, my relationship with food in Germany has had it’s highs and lows so far, and apart from some horse and oxtail here and there, I am getting the hang of cooking again. I made some great ANZAC biscuits, and plan to make pavlova for my birthday in a couple of weeks. And mastering a proper german schnitzel is high on my list of things to do.