Like many people, I always find January to be a little bit rough. The holidays are over, the nights are long, and the excesses of the holidays seem to be harder to shake off. This year though, BV and I wanted to think of a few possibilities to keep ourselves more proactive through these dull gray days.
When I first suggested going meatless and dry in January, I thought he’d laugh at me. And he did. But then we talked about it, and decided to give it a try. Now that the month is nearly over, I can say that the meat-free aspect of it was really no problem whatsoever. I don’t cook a ton of meat at home generally, and I had no problems making adjustments when I was out and about. BV struggled a bit more though, particularly when it came to lunchtime in his company canteen.
We decided it was best to be realistic, so when we discovered a package of smoked salmon with a just-reached sell-by date in the fridge that we had bought back in December, we ate it. Similarly, when we were headed down to the Villager’s house for a party, we figured if it was the standard ‘throw steaks on the grill night,’ that they usually do, we’d just go with it. (They actually served fish, which worked out well for us!) And when BV couldn’t face any of the vegetarian options in the canteen one day, I let one plate of Schinkennudeln slide. He did make sure to put one piece of the ham to the side, just to show his colleagues how seriously he was taking the veggie month, which I found amusing.
But the biggest test? That came last Sunday.
Every few weeks, we are usually invited over to BV’s dad for Sunday lunch. BV’s dad can make a mean Sauerbraten or Schäufele, which is to say that every meal at his house is a hearty, meaty, Franconian feast. So when BV got the call and set the date, my first question had to be, “soooo… did you tell him that we weren’t eating meat this month?”
Of course, he had, and I’ll award many points to his dad for not laughing (that much, at least). But the next question was harder to answer.
“And does your dad know how to cook anything that isn’t meat?”
That was the million dollar question. Of course vegetarians/vegans exist in Germany but when I just googled “German food pyramid,” I found this…
You are welcome. Oh, wait… I’m sorry… can you not read that clearly? I’ve got you covered…
Is this a total stereotype? Yes, yes it is. Are many stereotypes rooted in some sort of reality? Yes, yes they are.
What it boils down to though, is that the only veggies we usually see at BV’s dad’s house are in a cucumber salad, or occasionally arrive atop a pizza. It’s slim pickin’s for veggie lovers.
But whatever worries I had were quickly soothed when we opened the door to the smell of roasting onions on Sunday afternoon. BV’s mom had come to the rescue, and reminded his dad that BV is a big fan of Greek-style baked Feta and veggies. We sat down to a veritable feast of Feta baked with olive oil, onions, tomatoes and spices, (one whole piece per person, uff da!), a Greek salad (with Tuna, which we’ll slide through), and crostinis with garlic butter and tomato. It was delicious, and we were both very pleasantly surprised. Wine was already poured when we arrived, as BV hadn’t mentioned that we were also trying not to drink, which was probably for the best. If we had been vegetarian AND dry, his dad’s head might have exploded.
Do many Germans love the hell out of their meat? Yes. Is BV damn near ready to dive face-first into a pool of Schäufele sauce? Yeah, he might be getting there. It may seem like a small thing to a lot of people, to not eat meat, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that even here among the sometimes-unyielding Franconians, even the traditional Sunday lunch can surprise. And that’s encouraging, isn’t it?