And so here we are, December 1st. Crack open those choc-filled calendars. The first Advent has passed, windows are full of candles and lights. Those who grumble about Christmas treats and decorations being in the shops too early can finally, with good conscience, crack out their wreaths and festive gnomes, and consume gigantic amounts of fats and sugar manipulated into things called Schneebällchen and Muzen. Oh, look, a snow ball! Let’s eat a snow ball! If I keep calling it a snow ball, I won’t think of it as a giant cluster of fried pastry strips covered in some sort of praline icing and dusted with sugar. God I would love to see the I Quit Sugar movement take off in Germany. In December.
I’ve had the carols going for the past week or so, and have already done two trips to the Christmas Markets. During one trip, I kept it low key, and just had a portion of Poffertjes, bite-sized Dutch pancakes covered in butter and icing sugar. For the second round, I went savoury and had a Dresdener Handbrot, a doorstop of crusty bread pumped full of melted cheese and bacon bits. With sour cream on top. So, you know, light. Nothing one can’t work off during a simple stroll home. I am pacing myself – next trip will likely be piping hot Pommes with a healthy dollop of mayonnaise, or I may even just do some sort of biscuit/cake hop. We’ll see. The key these days is more to do with choosing an item of food I can share; die Lüdde is bang smack in the ‘oh you’re having a snack, WHERE’S MY SNACK MUM?’ age, and it is nigh on impossible to get away with eating anything in her presence. Even if she’s in an entirely different room, sufficiently occupied, she’ll sniff me and my Pfeffernuss out. She tried chocolate covered Lebkuchen the other day, with jam inside. I thought her eyes would fall out of her head when she saw it.
And so I am forced to reiterate, there is no greater joy this time of year, than eating. All joyful acts somehow come back to consuming foods that could fell a buffalo’s heart. Advent calendars = eating. Sure, the buzz of opening a little pocket everyday and seeing something delicious there is fun, but ultimately it’s fun because you eat it. Weihnachstmarkt = eating. Sure, the lights are pretty, the whole spectacle is festive and cosy and crammed with pushy elbows and flushed faces wrapped in scarves, but you’re lying if you say you aren’t there for the fried pastry and hot wine. Baking Plätzchen = eating. Sure, it’s a lovely little ritual, but you eat the damn things. Heilige Abend = eating. And presents. Eating and presents. But mainly eating. When we do Heilige Abend at the in-laws, it begins with chocolates and biscuits and cakes, culminates in a lavish fondue with 30 sides and endless bread with herb butter, and ends with – I don’t know, I actually can’t remember. I blank out after my 20th fondue stick. Cake? Chocolate?
So, it is really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. I don’t need snow or sub zero temperatures to get into a Christmassy mood, because I spent my first 25 Christmasses in summer dresses with a burnt nose. So whether temperatures stay at this weirdly Autumnal 10 degrees, or plummet to -5, or hover at 1 with some accompanying snow, it is all wurst to me. Actually, we’ve already had some snow, so I don’t really need to see it again this season. SG enthused we can go sledding next time it snows, and I said ‘you can!’ and envisioned myself prone on the couch underneath a mountain of buttered Stollen.