Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We shall not be moved

Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted early Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While Zuccotti Park is being "cleaned," American demonstrators can join their German bretheren at Occupy Kiel. Yes, there are people protesting in the capital of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein [Population: 238,000].

There are about 15 tents and, I guess in a nod to the movement's American roots, a teepee set up on the law outside Förde Sparkasse, a bank only located in SH. They are not camped out in front of a national bank because this bank has a space.

About a month ago, there was a lively protest on a shopping avenue. A nice woman offered Asmus and me a flyer against a different bank. As bank's being the source of our income, we kindly declined the offer. Since then, the protest is mostly silent. There was a demonstration last Saturday. Mostly, the protest consists of people sleeping on the grass and slogans spray-painted on the ground throughout central Kiel and signs glued on posts throughout the entire city.

Part of me is proud to see people protesting things in Germany. This nation is a great welfare state. People live, not survive as they do in the United States, for years on government money. Unemployed people have dogs because they get money to feed the dog.

Part of me thinks the protests are funny because there is no 99% versus 1% here. Banks got a lot of money from the government. However, the opera and the ballet gets millions every year. No one seems to mind that. I admire that government wants to preserve the high arts. However, I am not sure if the millions should go to art forms that relatively few people enjoy.

I am not sure about the impact Occupy Kiel is having here, but it is cute, isn't it?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's one of my favorite time of the year. It seems like it comes earlier and earlier each year. Yes, it is already Grünkohl Saison. Northern German supermarkets and restaurants are full of collard greens and kale.

I think it is crazy that a vegetable that is very popular in the South is also popular in northern Germany. Two different types of people all in love with the same delicious food that is cooked very similarly. The vegetable is cooked almost to disintegration with hunks of pork on two continents. I had a heaping bowl of greens with a hunk of pork as the lunch special at local restaurant in the middle of Kiel. I ate it and several other people wearing suits had some.

I remember about ten years ago, my friend Isabel mentioned her mother cooked a meal similar to our Thanksgiving sides. I was blown away that greens were not the secret food of Black people.

Germans are health-conscious people but they do like to put sugar in odd places. I love mayonnaise. Love it. My nephew brought me an economy size jug of Hellman's in August and I was happy. He was mule because mayonnaise brands here have a sweetness. I stopped ordering garlic dip with my sandwiches from my neighborhood pizza delivery service because there seems like way more sugar in there than garlic. I tasted a hint of sugar underneath the delicious pork goodness. I added some vinegar to make up for that. I must be the only one who has ever made that request because I confused two servers with my request for a bowl and vinegar. I had a big plate with greens, a hunk of ham and small potatoes. To save the meat and the potatoes, I got vinegar and the bowl and everything was all right.

At home, I cook them so they still had some body. I found a dreamy meat that was smoked and fatty. I sprinkle the dish with with hot sauce and I'm happy.

I can cook it often because German supermarkets sell 1-kilogram bags of greens that have the stems cut off, and the leaves are chopped and washed. Asmus is adverse to non-meat foods, so it's just me and a big pot of greens for three or four days. Hungry at 11? Greens? Hungry at nine at night? Greens.