Shopping Opportunities, Food, and Politics

The problem with a conference organized by men is that they don’t realize that visitors need time for shopping. Male scholars brought their wives who shop while men talk. And I’m here alone with nobody to send shopping. Even if N were here, sending him shopping is like asking me to spend a week without reading.

Today we started at 9 am and finished at 9 pm with an hour-long break for lunch. I had to sacrifice lunch because what am I supposed to do, show up back home with no gifts? Besides, I got my compensation for the conference and the euros are burning a hole in my handbag the size of my head.

I was reduced to buying a packet of Putenfleisch – just the name is priceless – and eating it in rapid gulps in my hotel room.

At 9 pm people decided to go out for dinner but I frankly can’t stand any more human company. I mean, these are all amazing people but I can’t stand human beings in these quantities.

I also discovered that Apfelstrudel contains everything but Apfel and Strudel. It’s a huge ice-cream that floats in a sort of a compote with blackberries, strawberries, and elderberries. And there are two tiny bits of dough stuck in it. Please don’t blame this on my faulty German. I pointed the word out in a menu.

A German colleague extolled the virtues of the local schnapps, so I decided to try it. When I asked for schnapps, the waitress beamed, “Oh, schnapps, gut, gut!” and offered me a Bailey’s.

It was really funny when I asked a German person to explain the word Kurbis that appears everywhere on the menu.

“Kurbis! Halloween! Ummm, scary! Scary Halloween!” he explained. “American? You know Halloween! Many many Kurbis.”

Before you think the worst, it turned out to be a pumpkin. I didn’t order it because at this rate a pumpkin can turn out to be anything whatsoever.

Visually, though, Germans seem to identify me as one of their own and address passionate monologues to me in the streets. There’s an election on Sunday and different political groups try to attract passersby to their cause.

There is a lot of Russian-speakers but I wear neither sports pants with white stripes on the sides nor peroxide, which remains the invariable uniform of Russian-speaking women abroad.

8 thoughts on “Shopping Opportunities, Food, and Politics”

  1. “I also discovered that Apfelstrudel contains everything but Apfel and Strudel.

    For your next meal, order some Leberkäse and see how much liver and cheese it contains. 🙂


  2. Have just checked my feed for a week and saw:

    Сенат США единогласным решением принял двухпартийной резолюцию, которая стала первым в истории правовым актом Конгресса США, где Голодомор 1932-1933 гг. признается геноцидом украинского народа.
    Russian troll confesses: ‘We were well paid in cash . . . a bit like being a prostitute’

    The article in English is behind the paywall, so in Russian:

    «Мы с нашим культом силы — варвары»
    Монолог Светланы Алексиевич


  3. I don’t do lots of shopping when I’m at a conference in a foreign country, but I sure don’t let the conference get in my way when I want to do my shopping.


    1. The problem is that the invited speakers don’t sit in the audience here. We sit around a table in the middle with nameplates in front of us. So if I skip a session, it will be very obvious. And then the German hosts will keep asking with sad earnest faces if I’m ok. And they are so damn nice that I just can’t let them down.

      So you see my dilemma. :-)))


  4. I feel like I need to contact the Austrian government so that they can intervene in the Apfelstrudel situation. You can put all sorts of things into a Strudel, but an Apfelstrudel is supposed to have apples in it.

    You should look for Kürbiskernbrot or Kürbiskernbrötchen, bread or rolls with pumpkin seeds, those are really good.


    1. I had a major cognitive dissonance when I tucked into it and realized that the supposed apple tasted and looked like a strawberry. Because it was a strawberry. I mean, the stuff is delicious but where is the Apfel???


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.