Germany, land of beer and sausages? Yes and no. Much like the U.S., there's this indulgence-asceticism dichotomy, one that doesn't exist in the parts of Europe one thinks of in the U.S. when "Europe" is invoked (i.e. France, maybe Italy). Perhaps because there's so much greasy meat to be had, there's a kind of detoxification parallel plane. The bread is intensely wholesome. If you're not spending your free time drinking yourself into a stupor with the other 15-year-olds, perhaps you should consider a triathlon.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Swim-to-bike. (Having looked closely at the grass on this path, as one does when walking a dog, I might have urged amphibious footwear of some kind.)
-In Paris, health-food stores always feel a bit dated, like what we imagine Woody Allen's character had worked in in "Sleeper" before being frozen. Not Whole Foods-style indulgence. In Heidelberg, health food stores seem to be designed for someone whose stomach simply can't take anything but dry wholesome. It's all manner of grains, seeds, and fine, some organic prosecco for good measure. Wheatberries, smoked tofu, and international ingredients. The unifying theme to what they sell is that it's whatever you'll crave after one too many greasy Alsatian savory pancakes, too many one-euro cones of tiramisu ice cream.
-After much meat-potato-spätzle-beer, you might want to head to Heidelberg's vegetarian restaurant: Red - die grüne Küche (option+u, most useful here). It's an upscale buffet not unlike The City Bakery, but with much more choice, and a greater emphasis on the sensible. You will eat your vegetables. And it's good, although probably especially so if you're still recovering from the previous day's sauerbraten, and really, who isn't. (Word to the wise: käsespëtzle is not a dish that can survive "to go." What it becomes in the refrigerator is a solid block of whichever fat holds it all together.) The baked falafel somehow hit the spot, as did curry-flavored chickpeas, as did some kind of blended juice containing no alcohol whatsoever.
-France has its parapharmacies, where every product evokes some kind of quasi-medical trip to a really pleasant spa, where you'll drink a lot of wine and emerge a Birkin offspring. The German pharmacy or drugstore sells many of the same products as the French one, but the German products are designed to appeal to a woman who wouldn't be caught dead buying something so silly and vain as a wrinkle cream. There needs to be a medicalization angle, yes, but also a story about gardening. Here, the fantasy isn't relaxing after some shopping in the Marais, but rather keeping your skin healthy after some expedition that involved walking around with two sticks, a form of exercise one might expect to find only in mountains but that's most definitely done in town as well.