Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 21: Life at a Bavarian pig-farm

Today was a chill day too. Frances and I took care of the horses- cleaning and feeding- both in the morning and the evening. I got the wheelbarrow, since there was only one pitchfork, one rake, and one shovel, and I didn’t know what the hell Frances was doing until she did it. The bad part was the pig-poo stirring. The pig poo is kept in underground tanks right by the horse barn, and today was the day that the tanks got stirred (tomorrow is the day that the, uh, stuff gets spread on the fields). Thankfully they’re stirred by machinery. The manure pile is actually on top of one of the tanks, and even when I had stopped breathing altogether, my nose burned. I think smoking near there would have been a death wish. I certainly understand how people asphyxiate when the ventilators in pig barns go out. Makes me think twice about pork. Unfortunately I’ll need to rethink more than that, because I love bacon and sausage.

Since Lily is sick, she didn’t go to her kindergarten, but instead I kept her in check while Georg and Frances worked. Since Lily is sick, she was also very fussy and tired all day long. It took a while to distract her from crying and wanting her mother, but I succeeded for the most part. At one point, she started rubbing her own head and leaning it on the coffee table. I figured she was finally nearing sleepiness, so I picked her up, laid her in my arms, and petted her head for her. She zonked out. The next thing I knew, Frances woke me up by laughing at the two of us sleeping on the couch together.

I’ve been feeling all good about my children skills, they mostly seem to like me. Then I realized that Lily likes me better than my littlest sister (two and half years old) does. Last time I saw Laurel, I was with her for a week, and only on the very last morning did she let me hold her without screaming, but not without pushing my face away. I have been in the same 50 mile radius as Lily for a grand total of 48 hours of her life, and she definitely likes me. Laurel is my sister for the rest of our lives, I guess it can only get better from here, right?

I finally got to cook today! I took half of a huge head of cauliflower, broke it into florets, tossed it with olive oil, fancy salt, minced garlic, freshly ground pepper and chili pepper, and roasted it on hot for approximately 40 minutes until there were burnt and crispy parts. Don’t let the word ‘burnt’ fool you though, it added crunch and flavor. I had ground up some spices, since I originally wanted to toss the cauliflower with curry powder but couldn’t fine any. However, my spice mix of black pepper, mustard, and cardamom just didn’t smell right with raw cauliflower, so I left it off. It did taste good sprinkled on afterward though. If you try this and love it, thank my mom- I didn’t believe in cauliflower before she made this.

I’m realizing why Georg and Frances are skinner than most people- they eat less than most people. It is a fairly obvious conclusion, but it was still somewhat shocking to witness. Most of the Germans I’ve eaten dinner and breakfast with will have two to three rolls for breakfast and dinner. They each eat one. I figured I’d make something to go along with the roasted cauliflower for lunch, but instead passed out with Lily while it was roasting. Frances just ate a smidge less than half of what I made, and then called it good. I’ve been trying to eat slower and not so much here, because otherwise I’d feel like a pig, but my midday hunger just didn’t go away from a quarter of a head of cauliflower. I ate some carrots and nuts after Frances had gone back to work. I’m just a hungry person, I suppose. I have learned that trying to eat more than what I need to satiate myself is pointless- I’ll be hungry just as soon anyway. It is hard to stop eating when still hungry, and call it good. This, I suppose, is why diets fail, which is unfortunate, because I’m definitely getting chubbier.

Dinner was a semi-Bavarian bread-spread at another couple’s house. What made it Bavarian was that in addition to sliced ham, there was really disgusting sausage. Know what aspic is? As far as I understand, it’s meat jello. There were slices the size of coldcuts of what I thought of as regular aspic (gross chunks of meat in clear substance) and then blood aspic (the clear substance was red). The gross chunks of meat were about 75% fat, and some had purplish or grayish things in addition to pink flesh. To continue with the theme of gross-chunks-of-meat-in-things, there were also spicy and non-aspic-y looking sausages we could choose to take slices of. Oddly enough, I abstained.

Once the conversation had reached a speed where I couldn’t hope to even identify one out of ten words, I gave Georg a break from watching Lily and played blocks with her on the floor. I tried to teach her, “Knock the tower over,” and, “Push the dominoes over,” but she only really understood destroying towers. When she lost interest in the role of Godzilla, I (being the selfish engineer) continued to play with blocks, trying to master arch-building, while Lily went back to annoy her parents. One of the dinner guests called over, “Now we really do believe you’re an engineer!” Yeah yeah, I got one arch twice, but it wasn’t that impressive. I want to build a fucking colosseum or bridge out of blocks.

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