“Mexican” night, aka White Flag night

I come from a particular way of thinking about and selecting words with some consideration, and my use of grammar is intended to both smooth the way for those words and, at times, to highlight those words. Thus, when I title the post “Mexican” night, it is truly my intention that you read “Mexican” with the quotes around it. These could be thought of as air quotes, if you like, meant to denote that the food was called Mexican, but really may have been something else entirely.

Before I go any further with that, though, I thought it best that I share a quote:

“Expats who can only criticize the country {and the food, added for emphasis} in which they choose to live are like a sailor who demands the wind blows only according to his skill.” ~ T. Crossley

I am not writing to criticize the food. Really, I’m not. It’s more about my denial, I think. In our cross-cultural training class, the instructor made very clear that we should not go to Germany thinking that we would find an abundance of Mexican restaurant options, or quality Tex-Mex options period, because that simply is not how Germans eat. I heard that as a challenge. As Mike would endorse, there is something in my brain that hears any statement and transforms it into a competition. Like, “oh, He couldn’t find good Tex-Mex, but that’s just because he didn’t try hard enough. I bet I can.” Clearly, I was (am?) in denial.

I went grocery shopping with one of the other wives (taking advantage of our extensive knowledge of the local grocery options), and when we saw a selection of Tex-Mex foods, we both dug in. Black beans (in chili sauce), flour tortillas, “Guacamole Dip,” “Texicana Salsa.” (Please note the careful and intentional use of the quotes, both as the actual names of the products and for the aforementioned quality that this isn’t exactly what I would call guacamole or salsa.) I thought that we were set! I asked Christina to grab some cheese when she went back to the cheese aisle, and she came back with something called “Pizza Käse,” saying that it was the closest thing she could find to go with the taco/burrito fixings we had assembled. I should have taken that as my first warning sign. But why?? When ignorance is such sweet bliss (I exaggerate, but you get the idea).

“Guacamole Dip” clearly is a euphemism for something else all together.

It is labeled “tomaten chile sauce” – tomato with peppers sauce. It is what it is.

Mike, who is usually very tolerant of products and tastes and hates the idea of “wasting” (quotes because his idea of wasting and my idea of wasting are sometimes differently defined; I think its wasteful to eat something that you don’t like, need, and/or want; he thinks its wasteful if it doesn’t get eaten) so much that he actually ATE the burned but raw inside pancakes, decided that he would just throw away the remains of our “guacamole dip.” Can you imagine?!? The “Texicana Salsa?” Tasted like ketchup, with some peppers (although not hot peppers) in it. Mike similarly compared the tortilla chips I’d been so proud of to the taste of Bugles. Only they are shaped as triangles, rather than bugle-shaped (if, in fact, that is actually what a Bugle is shaped like; I’m assuming here).

Upside: The produce here is really awesome, and is fairly cheap. So, we had really great lettuce and tomatoes last night. The tortilla wraps were pretty decent, too. I give up, though. Tex-Mex food is obviously not meant to be. I hereby surrender, and I will, at least until the next pancake adventure, go with the German way of things (minus the pork, because this vegetarian just isn’t going to go there).

The only crisis that is (known and) still forthcoming is the weather, and it is something that I’m quite aflutter about. The temperature here on Thursday is predicted to be 4. Yes that is celsius, and before you go breaking out your conversion calculators, I’ll tell you that it is 40 degrees Farenheit. In September. I haven’t fully developed my strategy on dealing with that yet. Hot chocolate. Layers. Hot chocolate. Any other ideas?

Anyone? Anyone?

11 thoughts on ““Mexican” night, aka White Flag night

  1. Make sure you buy a really good hat and scarf. And a long wool coat will go a long way. And boots. You’ll need them for the snow. 🙂

    • Do you know that I don’t even own a winter-like hat for Georgia? I think I’m going to be heading down to the “TK Max” (not a typo, that is what they call it) tomorrow!

  2. This made me laugh really hard: “Guacamole Dip” clearly is a euphemism for something else all together.

    …still chortling over that…

    I have to admit, I have the same exact feeling as Mike regarding “wasting.” I really, really hate to throw food out. Even if I hate the taste. Weird…

    I love Mexican food and can’t imagine giving it up. :/ Perhaps homemade guacamole? If you’re looking for a recipe, I think Chris has a good one. Also, hot chocolate is the way to go. And you need a cozy down blanket. For the outdoors, a hat is great (a huge percent of body heat escapes from the head). And I wear tons of boots in the winter (also a good excuse to buy cute boots- you know I love shoes…). Speaking of hot chocolate (this message is for Mike), I need your recipe for homemade hot cocoa! 😀

    Love you both and have been thinking of you this week!

    • A BLANKET! Yes! That has slipped off of my list! I made a list for things we need around the house last week, and we never got the blanket, and I’ve quit carrying the list around…

      I told Mike that you said that y’all shared a belief about wasting, and he said that its because it comes from your mom. So… y’all come by it honestly! And I have reminded him (again; although I reminded him multiple times even before we left) that you are looking for his hot chocolate recipe. He’s going to have to make up a new batch here in the next day, so I’ll make him write it down then and then just send it to you myself…

      Between Seattle and MI, you have a lot of experience with cold! Boots are the way to go. I can’t say that I’ve seen a ton of really cute ones yet (I wonder if cute and warm are too much to marry in one boot), but I also haven’t really gone into the shoe stores yet (I’m trying to spare myself the temptation, but that was before I *needed* a pair).

      We love you too, and REALLY appreciate the thoughts (and the comments!)!!

  3. A cute, warm, soft scarf that you can wrap around your neck, down the front of your jacket (behind the buttons/zipper) and over your mouth/lower lip/chin is key. And a hat. If it’s 40 in September, you’ll definitely be in WI/MI weather this winter and will quickly realize that the people who look cute in cold temperatures in movies are so fake–walking around with the jacket open, no hat, etc. Not real. And I’d splurge on some awesome, German-style boots to keep your feet warm. It’ll be a great souvenir to bring home and you won’t be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole like the Tex-Mex experience was. Oh, and I have found that I prefer a winter jacket to go past my hips–keep the cold air from even accidentally getting where it doesn’t belong (in case you decide to splurge on a German one of those, too.)

    • Everyone here keeps confirming my fears about winter here. “Its long, dark, and very cold (last year here, -25 CELSUIS; WHAT?!?!?! I just don’t do weather like that; I don’t ever voluntarily leave our house in GA if its colder than 36F). And wet, ja, it is pretty gloomy.” I feel like this stuff isn’t an option. I’m wondering if all of this: scarf, gloves, coat, hat, boots (or at least tall wool socks), etc. aren’t going to be my nightclothes, too?!? Its not just about fitting in, it’s survival! (although fitting in is important too). There is no room for fake people in this cold – they’d turn to ice! So, scarf (beneath the jacket and over the mouth), hat, longish coat, and boots. That’s my shopping list for tomorrow!

  4. Can I just say I love reading your blog. As for the Mexican food: it is very difficult to find, hence our suitcases are always loaded down with Totillas (which my mom affectionately calls Tacos, as in 16 years I havn’t been able to get it through to her that a Taco is the assembled thing….anyway) Taco seasoning, etc. Might I suggest home made salsa, since the produce is delictible in Germany (just don’t buy tomatoes from Holland, they are the fourth aggregate of water). Cilantro will be difficult to find, but you can get a decent Pico when using “Petersilie”. I PROMISE! Guacamole? Avocados, Garlic, Lime juice, salt, pepper, and sour cream! Voila!
    As for winter- Buy a true German coat and some German winter boots, a cute wool hat, scarves, and do get gloves. It will be much, much better, I promise. I have to admit, though, as much as I loathe August in Georgia, I DO NOT miss the long, cold, wet winters in Germany!
    Did I say I love your blog? I told my friend who just moved back from 2 years in Germany about it. She asked if she can follow it… she identifies with your stories!

    • Thank you so much, and thank you simply for reading! I really appreciate your tips… I will most definitely be making more of my own, not with Holland tomatoes (haha!). I get a deep sense of dread thinking about the winter, even though I know that millions of people tolerate it every single year (even though I’m sure that should the situation be reversed, and I was preparing to experience my 1st Georgia summer, it would be a very similar feeling; I’m obviously built for San Diego-like weather). I tried on every coat I have in preparation to come over here, even trying to wear multiple coats at a time, and I just couldn’t shake the feeling that nothing I had could be enough. And, of course, there is really no such thing as winter boots in GA! It’s also very nice to hear about your friend – I do find comfort in the fact that other people have gone through a similar shock to their systems (especially knowing that they are getting through it!). Take care, and please don’t be shy about giving me tips! I’m completely naive about all of this!

  5. I think this is the time to note that to sympathize with your “Mexican” plight, I’ll go by your house, pick some tomatilloes and some basil to mix with my red peppers and cilantro to produce — well, whatever you want to call it! And what about potato pancakes next time — that sounds quite German.

    • potato pancakes sound like they would be well suited for the robot culinaire. But we don’t have a robot culinaire! If it involves much more than a whisk, we don’t have it (and we just got the whisk!). So… shredding that many potatoes? German, but hard! Whatever you end up calling that mixture of garden stuff with peppers and cilantro does sound good, though!

  6. Pingback: Adventures in Alternative Medicine… and some other stuff from Heidelberg | Mike and Anne Marie's Adventures

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