Why on earth would an Australian who doesn’t ski choose to visit the Bavarian alps in the middle of winter? Who knows. Some overly romanticized ideal of snow capped mountains and Alpine villages perhaps. All proved true, so that makes it worth it.
I spent 10 days in a little town called Greiling at a home stay, during which I enjoyed surprising my host family with a different meal every night. I actually really like cooking for people, and though I’m a chronic do-er after my hectic schedule of museums and castles it was kind of nice to enjoy the slower pace of village life for a while.
Of course I had all these grand ideas of what I’d do with all my time (catching up on my other blogs, for one) which didn’t entirely happen but I did manage to do a little work each day along with spending a couple of hours cooking and a little time cleaning. It does take more brain power to cook in someone else’s kitchen. Unfamiliar pots, pans, utensils, spices(!) and in this case ingredients as my host family was mostly organic vegetarian – plus of course many ingredients I’m used to cooking with such as spinach are not exactly in season in the alps when its -15° and snowing!
Luckily I enjoy innovating even if its not particularly restaurant level creativity and I was able to adapt some pretty simple yet delicious meals with various vegetables. It actually made me very conscious of how much of a rut you can fall into with cooking, relying on the same old favourites all the time, cooking on auto pilot. I actually really enjoyed the challenge of having to think “Now what can I do with all these leeks?”.
To be perfectly honest the first couple of nights it kept me up, as I was racking my brain for what to make the next day!
I found myself not only adapting my recipes but my use of ingredients – for example, finely shredding the dark green leaves of leeks and using them in place of spinach in a quiche! Ordinarily I only use the white oniony part of the leeks and, I’m ashamed to say, waste the tops. It had never occurred to me to treat this shallot cousin as a leafy green vegetable! But rest assured, my opinion is completely changed.
As far as traditional Bavarian food goes, I didn’t go out anywhere to eat, but of course I am aware that every area in Germany has it’s own special sausage, of which they are very patriotically attached! I was surprised to find that for Bavaria it was the Weisswurst – actually one I’ve had in Melbourne and one of my favourite sausages, although I’m used to frying and not boiling. Now I know! They do have a special weisswurstsenf however – a sweet accompanying mustard – that was new to me and quite nice!
Could I live in a small village with my general restless nature? Perhaps. There is something to be said for walking everywhere you need to go, taking more time to make your own bread, cheese, yoghurt and condiments, preparing all foods and not using pre-packaged anything, and storing it all carefully too. It all takes up more time than I’d usually allow it when caught up in the busy-ness of city living. And taking a long walk every day too, even if it’s snowing! I think the problem with it seeming to quiet is not with village life but my own self discipline – despite starting to get bored and restless, I still didn’t achieve all the things I wanted to do. But sometimes we all need a rest, and it was certainly nice to have a proper kitchen again.
Other than that I’ll leave you with some picturesque mountain scenes that I enjoyed on my (almost) daily walks.