I’ve had a bit of free time lately and have gotten into cooking. Not my usual ‘throw it in a pot, boil, and hope for the best’ style of cooking when it’s 7:45pm and you’re so hungry you’ll eat just about anything, but carefully planned, thought out meals with side dishes and everything!
Once these ambitious meal ideas come to mind (Peach balsalmic flatbread! Chicken parmesan! Spinach and chickpea curry with raita and homemade naan!), I proceed to hunt for the necessary ingredients. Grocery shopping in Germany is fun and enlightening. I could literally spend hours in a grocery store looking at products that we just don’t have in Canada (like Schmand, Quark, and pre-made Rote Gruetze, among others).
And then there are some things that I just can’t find in Germany. Cilantro, where art thou? I miss you with a fiery passion. S and I have scoured a number of supermarkets for cilantro, either a fresh bunch, a plant, or any facsimile of it. No where to be found. This makes it tricky to execute the numerous Thai, Indian, and Mexican recipes that I have bookmarked and drooled over online. S and I are planning to go to a giant plant nursery soon to inquire about where we can get our grubby little hands on some cilantro. Once we get a cilantro plant, though, keeping it alive will be the next challenge (see photo below).
Cilantro is on my ‘Most Wanted’ list along with a few other elusive items. How about some brown sugar? Not brown cane sugar, but pack-in-down-in-the-measuring-cup brown sugar. Fortunately I was prepared to miss this item. My good pal K sent me off to Germany with a 1 kg bag of brown sugar in anticipation of the many cookies she knew I would be dying to make! Thanks K! I’m rationing this sugar like there’s a Depression coming…
Something else I miss is vanilla extract. It’s not impossible to find in Germany, but Vanille Zucker (or vanilla sugar) is much more common and very affordable. It’s vanilla-flavoured sugar that can be swapped in a 1:1 ratio with vanilla extract. I find that the flavour of vanilla sugar is not quite as strong as vanilla extract. I’ll definitely be putting that on my ‘must buy’ list when I go back to Canada.
How about some other baking essentials, like baking soda and baking powder? Definitely available in Germany, but in much smaller packets. Like 2 teaspoon-sized packets. My inner squirrel made me stock up on baking powder and baking soda like they were going out of style and now the envelopes can be found in every nook and cranny of the kitchen. I thought I had found the solution to little packets when I came across a large box of baking soda in a big grocery store. “Yes, please – throw it in the shopping cart! My packet-squirrelling days are over!”