Americans and Brits talk too much about the weather. But when the weather plays such a prominent role in your life it becomes interesting.
Living in California, I really didn’t realize the havoc weather can cause nor the power it has; that honor was given more to earthquakes. The signs of the seasons really aren’t there. You just can’t pay that much attention. It’s like we had short-sleeve weather and long sleeved weather and serious sweaters just never really came into play.
Christmas was often a sunny day and back home I never owned a scarf or used gloves. The only clothing I ‘packed away for winter’ was shorts and sandals. Hats were for skiing. Other than artichokes and watermelon, we never really had to wait to buy produce. This made the whole idea of seasonal vegetables more theory than practice and with that went one more way I could have paid attention to the seasons.
Living here has changed all that. We have seasons, four of them, and they play a much more visible role in our lives. Often it goes right to the stomach. Want to know what time of year it is? Go to the store or just look at your plate.
Here in Munich, among our friends we have sort of impromptu “Season’s Eatings” dinner party a few times a year. A certain food will come into season and someone will host dinner at their home and we’ll feast on it until we can’t eat anymore. This often repeats itself once or twice as we all make the best of the opportunity. Usually we don’t have time to get sick of eating it before it goes out of season.
And then it’s on to the next dish.
Winter in January brings Gruenkohl, winter kale stewed with meat and potatoes, washed down with corn liquor.
Springtime at end of April/start of May brings with it White Asparagus, served with potatoes and Black Forest ham with hollandaise sauce for the southerners, melted butter for the northerners and creme fraiche for all those in-between.
Strawberries are coming into season then too, and that means Bowle. This is a fruit punch-like drink made of strawberries, and other fruit, soaked – or partly macerated – in a potent wine / rum / sparkling wine mixture that’s been sweetened and chilled. Sort of like a big spiked fruit cocktail.
This is also a time when strawberries show up in everything on menus: chilled strawberry soup, strawberry tarts, and my favorite: ruccula salad with strawberries, feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.
Towards end of July/August, after summer has had its peak, Steinpilze (or porcini) and Pfefferlinge mushrooms start to show in the markets. Every summer we spend a long weekend camping lakeside at the Ossiacher Lake in Carinthia (Kaernten). One night is always devoted to mushrooms, bought at local markets and then grilled with meats and onions on tabletop grills until everyone is stuffed and crawls off to bed. Just looking at the mushrooms for sale in Munich markets brings to mind the memory of the scent of wet grass and water, slapping at mosquitoes, wrapped in a blanket to fight the chilly night dew.
As we all start being able to live life outside again, as tables appear on the sidewalks, windows open and the grass becomes a place where I can sit and have my lunch, I find myself looking forward to the foods that come with this. Summer is on its way and I’m getting ready to eat my way through it.
Right after I finish with making sure I fit in this here weddin’ dress that is…