Doing life right, at home and away

Tag: trivia

Of Strasbourg, the city

I actually wanted to some more share photos and write some more about Strasbourg – and Alsace – months ago, but the post kind of kept trailing and trailing. So I grunted and finally decided to take it off the back burner. If you are interested in Strasbourg and are looking for all kinds of travel tips, you should also check out my other posts:

Of eating in Strasbourg – restaurant tips, bars and such!

Of my favourite shop in Strasbourg – name says it all, for buying Alsatian artisanal pottery!

Well, it just so happened that Finland had its governmental elections and, instead of heading to my regular voting spot in Stuttgart, we opted for Strasbourg. The bus ride with ADAC Postbus from Karlsruhe is so cheap it’s almost impossible (10€ return) and only takes one hour. So, you will get a sexy mix of wintery photos and more recent, spring flavoured examples. You should also check my previous post about some eating in Strasbourg for more.

Anyway, to set the mood, here I am enjoying a demi of Bière Juliette from the local Brasserie Uberach on the terrace of Café Atlantico (bistrot-resto-dodo):

Drinking an Alsatian beer in Strasbourg

The author, drinking a beer.

It was one of the warmest days of spring so far and the spring was a bit further along in France than in Germany. The weather was verging on blazing hot and the air was filled with the sweet aroma of Magnolias, which were in full blossom along the riverside and on the backyard of seemingly every house and building.

I really like the city and the region. Alsace is generally a wonderfully curious place. It has such a bizarre history and I reckon its having been ping-ponged between different rulers and empires so many times has left a significant mark. Most visible and recent, though, is the modern German cultural and governmental impact. Due to the whole ping-ponging – especially between Germany and France – Alsace still applies “the local law”, which is quite an interesting arrangement. It lets the region have some of its entirely own, local legislation, operating alongside the rest of the French legal system.

Read More

Some british cheddar

Of British food and unfortunate history

I actually don’t really understand why Britain has a reputation for not having good food. Traditional British food is wonderful!

I’m probably a bit biased, having a Scot as my lover, but I genuinely think that the “bad British food” rap is quite unfair and not even true. (I don’t mean to diss, but come on – Germany & the many variations of the dreadful Wurstsalat, the Swiss who mainly just melt cheese and the Dutch with – I don’t even know what any of that is)

In my opinion, if compared to France, nobody comes off too good in Central/Northern Europe. That is regarding contemporary cuisine – during Edwardian era Britain, gastronomy and the culinary arts, particularly amongst the upper class, were at an all time high. You might be familiar with this, if you’ve watched these guys eat & dine & drama all the livelong day:

The cast of Downton Abbey

What changed the course of British gastronomy were the World Wars. Accoring to Ivan Day, a British food historian who runs historic cooking classes (!!!), the cook books of the Edwardian era are high quality with stunning and complex recipes – for the middle- and upper-classes, of course.

My personal favourite being these “fancy ices” – as in ice cream cakes (???) in ludicrous forms, made with copper and pewter moulds, without any electric refrigeration.

Edwardian fancy ices

Ta-daa! I want the pineapple for my birthday. Picture courtesy of

Due to the strict British class society, much of the culinary mastery and special skills vanished already through the casualties of WWI. With lack of skill and shortages in imports and thus supplies (Britain is an island, after all), many of the lavish foods prepared just a couple of decades earlier throughout the country, disappeared completely from the tables of the British upper-class. And of course, rationing both during the war as well as during the aftermath for the whole of Europe and the US, shrunk the post-war menus even further. (buh-bye, sugar and cream!)

And although Britain was not the only country rationing during the wars, after the Second World War they kept rationing longer than most of continental Europe: the scheme was lifted slowly and gradually after the wars, finally ending entirely in 1954. (In France it ended a couple of years earlier and in Germany in year 1950 – naturally excluding the DDR, they kept on trucking with their rationing cards until 1958) 

Somehow, through earlier implications from the industrialisation, the wars and undoubtedly some series of unfortunate events, Britain did not really recover and regain the skill, flavour and complexity it had before – and the reputation of bad British food is actually a remnant of the bland and poor, austerity ridden post-WW era. If you want to read more about this, NPR interviewed Mr. Day in 2012 about this topic.

Beyond the aristocratic food bacchanals, a heart breaking example of the impact of the Wars in British food culture is the case of the British cheddar and artisanal cheese. The whole artisanal cheese scene was completely wiped out due to rationing: most of the milk produced was directed to making “Government Cheddar” (as ALL other cheese was banned between 1940-1954!!!), leaving Britain stranded in the 70s with only 33 farms making quality cheddar, down from a whopping 514 farms before the war. 

Anyway, today in Kirkwall, we ordered meals which incorporated two of the possibly most misunderstood staples of British cuisine: fish & chips and haggis (served as part of a chicken supreme, though). The actual haggis is even better, or deep fried as a drunken snack from a Glaswegian hole-in-the-wall and surprising as it may be, even the canned haggis we have back in Karlsruhe, isn’t half bad!

Read More

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén