Thursday, April 23, 2015

Beilagensalat and Blechweckerl

More than a month ago, I spent a day in Freiburg, a town that during my childhood, we visited quite regularly. 

I had not been there in more than ten years so I felt it was time to go there again. 
The market on the Münster-Platz makes you think that time has stood still.

It is a farmer's market in the true sense. The old women selling the produce from indivual farms already looked 90 years old when I was a child... Their hair is neatly tucked away in headscarves and their hands bear the traces of lifelong hard labor in the fields. The neat handwriting on the signs indicate that they must have gone to elementary school at a time when calligraphy was still a graded subject in Germany. 

Naturally, January, February and March do not offer a lot of locally grown fresh produce. But the flowers on sale were impeccable. Those easter roses??? Me want!


What was also sold in abundance was winter salads, real mâche and purslane, my all time favorite salad! This made me think of the word Beilagensalat which refers to a plate of salad eaten on the side. I have been trying to come up with a more German word ever since, but I can't think of one. It contains so much of the orderlyness typical for Germans: the salad doesn't get to be mixed with other food on the plate, no it is properly eaten on the side. 
Other food related words that say much more about a specific culture:

Blechweckerl: A term from Vienna, refering to a can of beer that might as well substitute a meal. It perfectly fits the rough, melancholic, yet pasionate Viennese soul.

le goûter or quatre heures: a snack, mostly sweet, prepared for French children in the afternoon when they come home from school. Only a country in which food is considered world heritage would have such a lovely word full of parental care for a snack.

Znüni: a snack eaten in Switzerland at nine o'clock in the morning. If you ever observed the tedious hard work that goes into taking care of animals in shieling, you know how Swiss farmers deserve their Znüni.

Stulle: a slice of bread, mostly with butter as a spread. No word sounds more Berlin than Stulle. Ick mach mir jeze ne Stulle, wa? Willste ooch eene?

and of course: Schlachtplatte...

Do you know any other food related words that stand for so much more? Let me know!

copyright of all photos j.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart

For years now I've been saying that the next time I would visit my parents, I would finally go and see the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart. But then I took the train and didn't fly into Stuttgart, or, during Christmas, it was too cold - excuses, excuses. So this Christmas, I said come what may, next time I would visit, we would go there!

The Weissenhofsiedlung was built in 1927 to showcase housing solutions in the near future - at a time, when pre-war Stuttgart still looked like any medieval town with timber-framed houses! It doesn't get more avant-garde than that I guess and many of the 500 000 (!!!!!!) paying visitors who went through the houses during the 3 month long exhibition were shocked with the industrial character of the houses. As a matter of fact the Le Corbusier building which today houses the museum sat unoccupied for one year until finally someone decided to rent the place!

The details - lamps, how the curtain rails are hidden within the walls, functional built-in cabinets really caught my attention (unfortunately, you may not publish photos from inside the house). The houses were renovated in 1985 and back then, people were not so keen on details, so instead of gently renovating everything, they ripped out most of the things and replaced them with exact replicas...

Many of the originally 21 buildings survived WWII. Today, the houses belong to the German State and state employees can live their with quite affordable rents. Unfortunately, judging by the decorations in the gardens and windows, most do not really pay tribute to the landmark they get to live in! Almost makes you want to reconsider your career and take up some government-job just to get a chance to live there...
Some houses were apartment buildings (fabulously designed by Mies van der Rohe), single family homes, or town houses, as the ones pictured below by J. J. P. Oud. 

The house designed by Scharoun with a martitime ship-like-touch would definitely be one I would not say no to. So airy, and those curved windows?!? *writing my application for a government job*

More info on the Weissenhofsiedlung:

If you want to read more about the international style and Siedlungsbau, here's what I wrote years ago about my all time favorite Schütte-Lihotzky!

copyright of all photos: j. / copyright of all designs: Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, J.J.P. Oud, Hans Scharoun, Mart Stam

Monday, March 9, 2015


It's March and technically speaking, I am closer to this year's summer vacation than to last year's. But I still have one post left unpublished from last year's summer vacation and when I was enjoying the sun in Berlin today and reading through my (private) written and drawn diary I made in France, I thought I might as well go ahead and publish this last, summer-bursting post. Visiting Giverny was actually the reason for me to stay a couple of nights in Paris after having hiked along the coast in Bretagne. I had been in Monet's garden 20 years ago as a little girl and when I visited the water lillies at the MOMA in New York on several occasions while living there in 2013 and 2014, I really wanted to go back to Giverny.

As a child, I couldn't think of anything worse than having to go to different parks with my parents on vacations, with one exception: Monet's garden. I remember being thoroughly impressed by it and the children's book about Linnéa in the artist's garden was one of my favorite!

Getting there is easy: you take the train from Paris Saint-Lazare to Vernon from where there are shuttle buses. Go early though as many many many many people have the same agenda. As a matter of fact, even when you arrive at Giverny as early as when the garden opens, you will still have to wait in line for at least 20 minutes. By the time I left around 1 pm, the line at the entrance had even grown! The train ride is beautiful, following the Seine, and you should by no means play candy crush and just stare into your mobile phone as the American tourist sitting opposite of me did the entire ride. I mean why spent an awefully huge amount of money to fly all the way to Europe when you could play braindead computer games at home?

The crowd is also the problem of the garden: So. many. people. There are people everywhere. You can only walk in one direction or you would clog up the entire flow. I don't recall this place to be this crowded from when I was there as a child. It was almost impossible to enjoy the beauty of the place because it feels so overrun. And yes, it was a true challenge to make the garden appear void of human life on these photos. Nevertheless I would always come back to visit because if you can somehow manage to ignore the masses it is just so, so beautiful!

copyright of all photos j.