The First Frost
It’s pumpkin season now, which means soup is very often on the stove and the other day, I found the most delicious thing at a bakery down the road; a pumpkin and marzipan Taler, covered in dark chocolate. It took me a cup of coffee and a follow up tea to get through it, but get throught it I did. Eating at this time of year is a lifestyle, one to which one must commit in order to pad the psyche for the impending winter.
It is quite lovely to live in a place that celebrates seasonal eating with such gusto. That collectively loses its sanity when Spargelzeit rolls around, that has fields of strawberries open for picking in the summer, has never met an apple they can’t include in a pastry (like today’s sweet bread filled with apple and marzipan and topped with icing). A country that tracks summer through berry availability and counts Lebkuchen as a food group for the entire month of December. Or at least, I count Lebkuchen as a food group for the entire month of December (and November. Okay and October.) and I don’t feel like Germany has a problem with that.
(On that note, I have already started eating Lebkuchen. I didn’t want to say anything earlier because I know it is early, but I have been fighting it since the first of September, and the other day while grocery shopping I dropped a bag into my trolley and as I was explaining to SG that I knew it was a tad early, and good Germans wait until at least November, he told me he had already been eating some at work! The traitor!)
But. while it is all very well to celebrate the berries and sup the soup and survive the Spargel by virtue of litres of Hollandaise sauce, one cannot forget the flipside of seasonal eating. The other night, as we tucked into a bowl of pumpkin soup and commented on how lovely it is to do so on a chilly Autumn’s night, SG said to me, ‘I can’t wait for the first frost.’ And my stomach dropped. Poor thing, you are probably thinking, so terrified at the thought of frost and the cold it signifies. Well yes, there’s that, but there is also the fact that the first frost is mother nature’s big old thumbs up to Grünkohl. Somewhere on my horizon is a big pot of stewed kale and wurst, which will be served with a side of encouragement to sprinkle the entire steaming mass liberally with sugar.
But with the first frost will also come the invitation to start playing Christmas carols, to perhaps start eating Stollen for breakfast. And then the Glühwein will start showing up in gigantic quantities in the supermarket (where I first encountered it in Münster, my first Christmas in Germany, and promptly drank it cold out of a wine glass) and then the Christmas markets will start …
But I am getting ahead of myself. The first frost is still some time off. The markets are still awash with orange. There is this whole season to enjoy first, and enjoy it I shall (try to. Despite the rain.).