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Yeager’s Sunday Morning Rant

by Ken Yeager

The site has been pretty quiet so I thought I’d add something to read, boring as it may be.

OK, the white asparagus season has hit Germany again, this year a bit early due to the warmer-than-expected weather in May.  Plus, some farmers are now heating their fields with underground water pipes.  White asparagus (Spargel in German) is grown underground and is harvested starting early in the mornings.  Driving around in the season, one will see asparagus fields covered in plastic sheeting…this is to retain the day’s heat AND to protect the asparagus from the sun.  Harvesting is back breaking work and is often done by Poles who come over just for the season.

Once it is harvested and washed, it is sold by the kilo or stalk.  It needs to be peeled as the outside has a very hard outer skin, unlike green asparagus (which is grown in sunlight).  Cooks often boil the peels in water to create a broth which the asparagus is then cooked in…this enhances the taste of the asparagus.  Of course, there are other ways to prepare and cook the asparagus but I won’t go into that because I know very little about it.

At Chez Yeager, we normally eat our Spargel with Holsteiner Katenschinken (a hind quarter ham that has been smoked) or Praguer Schinken (a type of boiled ham), new potatoes, and melted butter or Hollandaise sauce.

The Schinken, in Germany, comes in different tastes and from numerous sources such as Italy, France, and Schwartzwald in Germany just to name a few.  Italian Schinken, known as Prosciutto* comes from the north of Italy.  It is air dried, sliced paper think and wonderful.  The French have Jambon de Bayonne* and, in my opinion, some of the absolute best comes from Spain, Jamón Ibérico*.  There are different varieties of Jamón Ibérico, depending on what they are fed on, but the taste is fantastic.

If you are ever in Germany during the month of June (or May if the weather has been warm) you have to try Weisse Spargel mit Katenschenkin und Kartoffelen.  Wonderful meal.

(NOTE – * indicates information taken from Wikipedia).

Some of you will know that northern Germany has been suffering from a horrible bout of a very virulent form of E-Coli which has sickened over 1500 people and 19, as of today, have died.  Seems this form of E-Coli (known has EHec here) as a new mutation of E-Coli and causes the kidneys to shut down and for some reason strikes primarily women of all ages…and really strange, young people are more immune.  Bad stuff.  Scientists still have not isolated the source of the bacteria except to know that it comes from raw vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers.  As my wife buys our fruits and veggies from known vendors and most of them are BIO vendors (organically grown stuff), we are OK, but nonetheless, we have avoided salads for the past few weeks.

My wife and I have taken two boat trips recently.  Once was on the start of the 822 Hamburg Harbor Birthday weekend.  Our trip was and hour and a half around the harbor.  A number of boats were heading downriver to join the “arrival” parade of big ships due for the celebration.  I love to see all of the older masted (is this a word???) ships under sail.  Quite impressive.  After our boat tour we located ourselves in a hotel bar high above the harbor and watched the Queen Mary II depart on a short voyage to Oslo.  Huge ship.

The next boat trip was an eight hour voyage down river to the town of Stade on the south side of the Elbe River.  The boat trip took three hours to get there and three hours to return (perhaps a bit less due to the tide) and two hours in the town.  Never having been in Stade before, I was pretty impressed.  It is an old town, established as a port before Hamburg and much of the old town is under Denkmal Schutz which is Germany for protected monuments or buildings.  Such protection is really great for the preservation of these historical buildings, but horrible if you own the building because you are restricted as to what you can do to your property.  I experienced this while serving in Prague and having to work with the local authorities concerning work on the Embassy building.   But I digress.  The old town of Stade is old buildings and one gets the feeling of history as you walk through the cobble-stoned, narrow streets.  I really liked the town and wouldn’t mind living there, I think.  We intend to go back and do some more exploring.

In a week, my wife and I are off to Sylt for two weeks.  I know I’ve written about this before, but I get sort of excited thinking about the coming two weeks or so.  I love being on the beach, getting an all over tan, swimming if the water is warm enough and visiting with some friends that we only see once a year during our time on the island.  We will be seeking different accommodations for next year as the place that we have been staying has become too expensive given that my income will decrease next year as I will not be working during the summers anymore.  But we will find something nice, no doubt…we always have.

OK, so that’s it for now.  Sorry if I have bored you too much.  I wish all of you a safe, healthy and enjoyable summer.

 

 

1 comment to Yeager’s Sunday Morning Rant

  • Mike McNally

    Ken, your writings are never boring. Glad to hear you have avoided the E-Coli. The news here showed pix of bean sprouts and said that they also might be unsafe. It’s unfortunate that so many had to die before the problem was identified…Mike McNally

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