The years in Germany are punctuated by festivals and celebrations. Always something to look forward to, always something to talk about and always reliably prompt. After Christmas comes Silvester (New Year’s Eve), after Silvester comes Fasching (carnival), after Fasching comes Easter and so on and so on. The comforting regularity of having something to look forward to was helpful to me as a newcomer and as time has gone on there have been other, very tasty, additions to my years.
The food calendar is of great importance in Germany, particularly in the South. Personally, I now impatiently await the smell of pizza in the woods, stay with me, not actual pizza but Bärlauch (wild garlic) in the wild. It always smells like pizza to me. The entire country’s anticipation and celebration of Spargelzeit (asparagus time) is nothing short of astounding to witness, and the prices that people are willing to pay? They don’t call it white gold for nothing.
I’d never really questioned the availability of food in the supermarket before. In the UK you can generally get everything year-round, strawberries in December, sprouts in May, perfectly normal. In Germany you can rarely find out of season fruits and vegetables which don’t come with a drastically inflated price tag. I know its not exactly a hardship, but it took a while to get used to.
Once I was used to it though, I suddenly found myself in too deep. I became one of them. A seasonal snob that is. I eagerly await each food season, planning what old favourites to make again and what new recipes I want to try. In addition, I’ve picked up some preservation skills my nana and grandma in law would both be very proud of me for, so I can enjoy my favourite seasonal foods year-round. The cellar is packed with pickles, oils, jams, chutneys, drying herbs and sauces and the freezer rammed with anything else that can instantly transport me to that time of optimum freshness.
It is easier to eat like this in Germany, particularly outside the cities. When finding your taste of home essentials means a day trip to all your surrounding Asia, Turkish, generic foreign stores, sometimes easy makes for a refreshing change. Your local market here is the hub of local produce but beware the new seasons goodies tend to sell out fast, sharpen your elbows and get there early. You could also jump on the veg delivery box wagon or be lucky enough to find a pop-up stall (look out for a huge strawberry) beside the road or visit a local farm vending machine.
If you, like me, find comfort in routine and excitement in anticipation seasonal eating might also be for you. I warn you though, the real prize is in the taste and you’ll probably be ruined for life. That first taste of new season strawberries though, gets me every time.