Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Eating my way through Europe, part 2

I started off my first day in Paris sampling a ham and cheese crepe at a cafe not too far from the Eiffel Tower. Not only was it my first time in the city, but my inaugural trip to Europe. Admittedly, I have a preference for all things Asian, but I've always told myself I should visit Europe one day.

So here I was, gazing at trees in the most visited city on Earth. The plan was simple: Meet up with my brother the next day and embark on a two-week backpacking trip through France, Switzerland and Italy.

My crepe was expectedly good. Thin and slightly chewy. A little too buttered, but still good. Coupled with a pot of tea, it bought me extra time to lounge around for longer than usual. My waiter was very helpful but had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for "the drink Parisians typically have with crepes," which is something my friend told me about. He offered me a wine menu, but I knew that wasn't it. Oh well. (Cidre turned out to be what I was looking for.)

The cool thing about cafes here is that sidewalk seating is in abundance. The funny thing is, oftentimes, all chairs are turned toward pedestrians. So people-watching is a national pastime.

The next day, we took off for Bern, Switzerland, a beautiful city untampered by touristy kitsch and, worst of all, petty crime. Those are some of my pet peeves as a backpacker: 1) being bombarded by street hawkers just after stepping onto solid ground and 2) to getting pickpocketed when you least expect it. Well, rest assured, Bern had none of that. Above is a picture of the historically preserved part of town, complete with cobblestone pathway, cable car and clock tower. I'm sure they even had a town crier looming in the distance. =P Believe me, the rest of the city is far, far more modern.

One of my first meals was called Hirsh -Pfeffer: stewed deer meat (Jagerart) in rich gravy with a side of stubby pasta (butterspatzli) and rotkraut, their version of sauerkraut. It made me realize just how different European food was from my teriyaki-chicken-and-rice upbringing. The meat sauce was a little more pungent than I was used to. The pasta, oily. By all means, it was a notable meal. My tastebuds just hadn't traveled enough for me to appreciate it.

This is what I'm assuming is a typical chocolate bar aisle at your local Swiss supermarket. This one is at a store called Migros, one of the more affordable shops in the historic part of Bern. Just how many types of chocolate were there? Let me count, 1...2...3... 24...

To be continued...

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cari - Inland Empirical said...

The Switzerland photo is lovely.
Then I scrolled down and saw the chocolate! I admit...I got a little excited.

Jeni said...

Pretty chocolate. I'd just stand there and stare. Mouth open. Little drool falling out.

Vegancat said...

Uh uh...never let them hear comparing sauerkraut and rotkraut.

That is totally different.

Sauerkraut is fermented, salty, sour.

Rotkraut/Rotkohl is made from fresh sliced red cabbage.

Sometimes cooked with wine, most times with some apple, with vinegar and sugar and at times like christmas with cinnamon and other christmas spices.

Bern has sauerkraut, just like bavaria has rotkraut.

But also in Bavaria you would get rotkraut with game dishes and sauerkraut with dishes made from pig.

Rotkraut is typicall for dishes made from duck, deer or cow.
Sauerkraut would not go well with that.

Except maybe some stews where tough meat is simmered over long time, where the acidic sauerkraut helps to turn it into something where you do not think that you chew on an eraser.