I’m back from my blogging absence! My C1 German course has been keeping me pretty busy with class time, homework, and a presentation. Last week, I had to prepare a presentation (Referat) for my class about Germany and its colonial history which took up a good chunk of my time. Now that it’s over, my next task is to read a German classic novel for my upcoming oral exam (mündliche Prüfung). Each student will be quizzed for 15 minutes about the book we chose to read. So far I have read the first page and I already don’t know what’s going on. I think I’ll have to read my book while painstakingly looking up every incomprehensible word on my online German-English dictionary!
Any tips for reading a foreign language book? Just power through without looking up too many words to get the gist or look up all the words you don’t know? Read a summary of the book in your native language first then attempt the foreign language version? Read the foreign language version aloud to a native speaker and ask for rapid fire translations along the way? (Just kidding for that last one….kind of).
In any case, this post is meant to be about my adventures grocery shopping this weekend. In the span of less than 24 hours, S and I visited an Asian market, a regular grocery store, the Ludwigsburg weekend market, another regular grocery story, and an Italian market. Five stores in less than 24 hours?! I’m sure you’re thinking, “Write a grocery list, people!”
Here’s the thing. I did write a list. (I love lists. Just ask my husband – there are grocery lists all over our apartment, in my bag, and inside my hoodie pockets from weeks past.) The things is is that it’s quite difficult to get all the groceries you need at one particular store in Germany. Your everyday large grocery stores, such as Rewe, Kaufland, Marktkauf, Tegut, etc., will carry most of what you need. But if you need specialty ingredients like Asian sauces, curry pastes or noodles, or if you need certain hard to come by produce or herbs, such as kale, butternut squash, sage or hot peppers, you’ll most likely need to visit an ethnic market and/or a produce market to find what you’re looking for. I can occasionally get butternut squash and some Asian sauces at regular grocery stores, but if you’re after something very specific, chances are better at another location.
After my German class in Stuttgart on Friday, S and I went to Asia Markt Thai Lam (one of the best-stocked Asian markets I’ve come across in the Stuttgart area) to search for some won ton wrappers, green papaya, pad thai noodles, tapioca pearls and frozen shelled edamame. This store has pretty much everything you’d want in the way of specialty Asian ingredients. I’m always impressed with the variety of Asian herbs and produce that they carry – tiny Thai eggplants, fresh galangal, red thai chillis, green papaya, thai basil etc.
On Saturday morning, we made our way to the weekend market in Ludwigsburg to pick up some hard to find produce, with a special emphasis on finding kale. I have only ever been able to find kale at outdoor produce markets and nowhere else (except chopped and frozen in grocery stores). Why is that? Moreover, kale is only sold when it’s in season (ie. winter) and no other time. In Canada, you can find most produce year round, though of course seasonal fruit and veggies are more plentiful at their peak and taste much better than imported produce at other times of year. Imagine my delight when I finally saw curly kale available by the boatload. We also asked for fresh sage at about 5 different stands to no avail. We finally found a little potted sage plant which we thought would do the trick. My goal is to keep this potted herb alive for as long as possible because in the past, my herb tending skills have left something to be desired.
Lastly, we made our way to the local Italian market in our tiny town. Not a strictly necessary stop, but they have the most amazing pasta varieties covering the span of 5 aisles that we (ok, I) couldn’t resist. We were also on the lookout for fontina cheese which I can’t seem to find anywhere, even at the cheese stand at the Ludwigsburg market. Since fontina is an Italian cheese, I thought the Italian market would be the best bet.
Normally the market isn’t too busy, but when we pulled up to the store, there was nowhere to park. The tiny parking lot was jam-packed with customers and cars. Eventually we were able to find a spot on the side street. As we walked into the store, we were totally bowled over by the number of customers inside. As in, hundreds. Most were waiting in line at the checkout, others were sampling the free meat and cheese tidbits on offer at the set up tables. We were in a rush to get home, so we decided to leave and try our luck another day. Fontina, we’ll just have to wait and see if our paths cross this week…