Thursday, May 04, 2006

How Much is that German in the Window?

The seventh German of the Month is a young woman with hesitant English who has never been to America before and has never been quite so far from home. She said to me the other day, "The sky smells the same."

"The sky smells the same?" I asked, as we walked down Third Avenue.

"Yes, the sky smells the same as in Germany. I didn't know."

How cute is that? Seriously, if you walked by a pet shop with a bunch of adorable Germans with their noses and harshly geometric eyeglasses pressed up agains the window, would you be able to pass by without going in to adopt one of these loveable critters? I don't think so.

I was talking to Der Man today about whether I could ever leave my home country for good. "I don't know," I said. "My instinct is that I would miss my native culture."

"American culture," he said. "What's that?" I punched him in the shoulder. Then, to prove his point, a bus drove by with a giant ad for WWF Wrestling. "Do you like this ... wrestling?" he asked me.

"No! Well, sure, you seem to have stumbled upon just one example of American culture that I find particularly embarassing..."

"I have heard also that there are people who wrestle in basements in pools of pudding."

"Actually, I think you mean Jell-o. Gelatin."

"You have heard of this?"

"Yeah, of course. I think I may have done it once ... in university... but only once. It is quite messy."

The good news is that these Germans are familiar with bagels. I told them the story about G6 that provoked my annoyance. "But tell me," said Der Man. "Why does a bagel have a hole in the middle?"

"I don't know. Why? Oh, wait, this isn't a joke set up? You're actually asking me why a bagel has a hole in the middle? I don't know! Because that is how the first Eastern Eruopean peasant made it. "

"It does not seem very efficient. You are trying to spread the cheese and there is the hole ... if it was a different shape, it would be better."

The German-ness of that thought kind of makes your head want to explode, no?


Beta said...

I was not prepared for my head to explode. Next time, give a warning BEFORE subjecting us to these kinds of deutschisms.

Joshua said...

That is beyond adorable, how old is thing young German?

According to the NYTimes, one story behind why bagels are shaped the way they are is that a Jewish baker in Vienna made them in the shape of a stirup in honor of the knights who saved the city from the Ottomans. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it's one idea.

bbrug said...

Um, not that I at all mind the roundness of bagels, but the first time I encountered a sandwich made on a bagel stick (at Café Angelique on Bleecker Street), I was ecstatic. I immediately told everyone who would listen: "They have this smoked salmon sandwich! and it's on a bagel! but it's straight! like a tiny baguette!" It's much easier to eat, I have to say. Maybe you should take your Germans there?

Mmm. Now I want one of those sandwiches.

Janet said...

My uncle's great horror of moving out west (he is from pittsburg) was the fact that no one here, except for Einstine Bagels twenty years later, knew how to really make bagels. He is absolutely fanatical about them, and every once in a while, he'll hop a plane with one thing in mind: a real bagel with real cream cheese. Mmmmm... Pittsburg.

Cupcake said...

Once again the wisdom of the Cupcake Mafia does not disapppoint. Bagels are a funny thing. Once you have the good stuff, you can't go back. For me, it's Ess-a-Bagel on 51st and Third or nothing. When I go to Rhode Island and try to eat the "bagels" that my Dad keeps in the freezer, it's like gagging on Wonderbread.

Conversely, Der Man and his German colleagues are disapppointed with our attempt at Black Bread. Der Man had one sample of dark bread at a local deli and told me that he thinks it was just white bread dyed brown.