Thursday, December 27, 2007

Prague Christmas

In Prague right now with my family doing some Christmas travels.. Having a blast, seeing some new places and having a great time. Good to hang out with the family as well as travel, two things of which I have not done much of in the past few months while attending cooking school in Erfurt.

We were in Berlin for a few days, my first time there. Saw most of the main sights, several museums and went to a couple Christmas markets. Erfurt is still my favorite Christmas market, and serves the best spiced wine, Gluhwein.

Off to Czesky Krumlov, a cool historic small town in the south of the Czech Republic tomorrow. Let the adventure continue.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy Kwanza.


Monday, December 17, 2007


Thomaskirche and Bach statue
Reggie and I with half meter long Bratwursts

Battle of the Nations Monument

This weekend I went to Leipzig, checking another city off my list. The city is huge and feels like an Eastern German city with the huge block houses and buildings built to symbolize strength, meaning that they are ugly as hell and big concrete blobs.

Highlights of the city include the awesome Baroque Nikolaikirche where peace prayers in the late 1980s helped join the two countries together again. The Contemorary History Museum, which is free and huge, shows the history of the last century, focusing on life in East Germany. Turns out the city of Chemnitz was called Karl Marx City during this time period.

Outside of the Thomaskirche, was a huge statue of Bach, who had played numerous time as the church organist there. The best part of the statue is that his pockets were turned out as he always claimed to never have money, having 20 kids with two women.

The Battle of Nations Monument, outside of the city, remembers the 100,000 soliders who died in the decisive 1813 battle victory over Napoleon’s army. The monument is 91 meters high, and very impressive with a large lake in front of it. To compare it to the Washington Monument in DC, something similar in a huge monument with water nearby, this monemnt was much more impressive. Gigantic and with amazing carvings on the stone when you get up close.

At the Christmas market, I got to try my first mug of grog, which tasted horrible, basically just hot alcohol. I also had a half meter long bratwurst which was awesome. The Christmas Market is huge and sprawling, taking over most of the city streets, and was packed with people the entire weekend.

Another interesting thing about Leipzig is that when you rent an apartment, it is often just the walls, with no kitchen and such. People have to put in their own oven etc. as well as the counters and sometimes even the floor. The buildings would often just have concrete floors and it would be up to the people to fill them in. its changed a bit now which the flooring having been put and left in, but I was in two places where the people had to put in their own kitchens.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nürnberg Christmas Market

After the pig slaughter on Saturday, I went to Nürnberg on Sunday through Monday morning to visit a friend from college and to see the famous Christmas Market there. The city is a lot bigger than Erfurt and was packed with people at the market. Shannon and I did all the toursity things from seeing the controversial marriage statue (first love till death do us part), the main churches, the tortue chambers under the town hall and a couple small bridges. The castle on the hill is amazing with a great view of the city and all the rooftops.

One of the best parts about the city is the city wall which is still intact and surrounding the downtown part. Lots of stands selling everything from the local sausages, to local giingerbread cookies, to everything. It was a great trip to a fun city, highly recommended, even for a short period of time.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Slaughter of a Pig

I got to participate in my first pig slaughter on Saturday. A friend of mine’s parents slaughter a pig every December after buying it 13 months earlier. They just got a baby pig weighing 20 kilograms and the one that was slaughtered was 250 kilos, which multiply by 2.2 is a lot of pounds.

I arrived at 7am via a local train, having missed the killing of the pig by a half hour. The pig was lying on a raised stretcher and was being scrubbed clean when I got there. The blood had been drained (and saved for the Bloodwurst to be made later on) so when the pig was stood up and then cut open, it wasn’t as blody as the last couple of weeks in cooking school seminars on wild game and meat.

After having the local Veteranarian come to make sure the meat was healthy, the local butcher started cutting up the pig into different parts. The bones, head and legs were boiled, making a stock, while the meat was separted into different parts, for bacon, schnitzels, cutlets, and the rest for sausages. We made Leberwurst from the liver, Blutwurst from the lungs and miscilanous meat and then bratwursts from the good meat. Used the intestines and bladder to stuff the sausages, making 115 bratwursts which was a hell of a lot.

The whole day we ate fresh meat off and on, both cooked and uncooked. Being with people from a small town who do this every year, they made sure I tried everything. To offset the amount of meat, we drank schnapps on and off the whole day, part of the slaughtering tradition. At one point when mixing the Hackfleisch (ground pork with spices that can be eaten raw) myself and Marcus, a cousin of my friend, had to take several shots of schnapps after each time of mixing the meat from one side to another. Got to love the traditions.

We finished off the day eating fresh liver, Hackfleisch and other types of meat such as wild boar and deer that they also had, along with more schnapps. Quite an adventure from very early on until late. And I got to take home some stock, sausages and ground pork, not too shabby eh?

Sunday, December 2, 2007


So with the days getting darker and colder, I figured it was time to start up some new hobbies. Yesterday I got the supplies for two of them. The first, a melodica, the classic kids toy. Basically a small piano flute, quite entertaining to me, and perhaps a little annoying to others. The second is a paint set, which I got a the Euro shop. A canvas, 6 acrylic paints and brushes all for 3 Euros.
I bought the melodica at a large flea market where they were selling everything from bier steins to DVDs to old Nazi paraphernalia. For 35 Euros I could’ve bought an ashtray with a swastika and Hitler’s face on it. The swastika had a sticker over it as it’s not a very popular symbol these days. There was also old clothes and weapons from WWII, such as a machine gun, things that normally wouldn’t be at a flea market in America.