Thursday morning found me up late after sleeping off about 12 hours of jet lag and off to Brian’s apartment in the Studentenstadt. The student festival known as the StuStaCulum was in progress right outside his apartment. This four-day celebration with over 100 bands and theater groups on five stages is one of the highlight’s of the student’s year and the big music tent was located perhaps twenty yards from Brian’s bedroom window. It didn’t bode well for too much sleep in the next couple of days for Brian and his friends. But they were game, and this morning they were up relatively early for the traditional Bavarian Weisswurst Frühstück (white sausage breakfast).
|Weisswurst Frühstück It was not the most attractively presented breakfast I've ever had, but one of the more unusual, to be sure.|
I was the one running late, and didn’t arrive until close to 11:00, but no matter, Brian’s breakfast friends were running a little sluggish, too. The band had finished playing about 3:00 AM, but the StuStaCulum party continued for several more hours and no one had gotten much sleep. Still, everyone was up (although some obviously worse for wear) because Weisswurst Frühstück cannot be eaten after noon for some reason not understood by any of the Germans accompanying us, none of whom were Bavarian.
We trooped over to the music tent, now pressed into service as the mess hall, paid our 5 € and received a paper plate with two links of a rather fat white sausage, a splash of sweet mustard on the side, and a good sized pretzel. What!? This is what I had hurried over here for? As traditional breakfasts go, I thought this was a little on the lean side in terms of quantity and presentation. But the breakfast is supplemented with a half liter of Weissbier, which adds a certain ambiance, especially in student circles.
We sat down at a sunny table to enjoy both the breakfast and the spectacular day. The StuStaCulum is a bit of a lottery for the student organizers who run the satellite tents that furnish much of the flavor and fun of StuStCulum. They have to put up quite a lot of their own money to rent a tent and order the wine, food, and other odds and ends that are sold at the festival. Not every year promised the kind of profit they were looking to make if the extended forecast held up for another three days. So the atmosphere was relaxed.
A good thing, too, because my atmosphere was anything but relaxed. The trick of the Weisswurst Frühstück, as I was learning, is to take the outer casing off the sausage (which you prefer not to eat) without touching it with your fingers. The proper procedure is to slice the sausage lengthwise, then pin the casing with your knife while stabbing the sausage in the end with your fork and rolling the sausage. If all goes according to plan, and mine wasn’t, the casing should slip off and you would have an eatable sausage. It is considered the worst kind of faux pas to grab the casing with your fingers in a fit of frustration, as I was doing now.
No matter, the thing was soon enough skinned and I was enjoying my meal. And aside from forgetting my camera and not getting a picture of the breakfast, it wasn’t the worst mistake I was to make this morning.
Brian’s friends at the table were all German’s, but they were kind enough to speak English to me. My German is returning slowly, but my accent is so bad that anyone who hears me speak it immediately pities me—or simply can’t bear to hear any more of it—and switches to English. (Interestingly, my wife arrived yesterday and I am utterly appalled at her accent and the way she consistently mangles German vowels, so I assume my accent must be slowing improving, but not so much that the Germans would notice.) In any case, I was trying to make friendly German conversation with Pia, a native of Berlin, and one of our group.
It was not going so well (jet lag, I hope) and she switched to English. I was momentarily thrown off track by the most lovely Scottish brogue. What in the world!? The last time this happened to me I was thrown off guard by men in kilts in a German Bierskeller. Where was I anyway? It turns out she had spent six months in Scotland learning English and this was the result. Lovely. I’m always impressed by how European everyone is here. (I’m sure they must be impressed with how utterly American we seem to be, and I say that knowing full well all it implies. It is one of the reasons I am here.)
After we finished breakfast and I had left Pia asked Brian what was up with the white socks and shoes? She had taken a cross-cultural class at the University and one of her assignments was to identify the nationality of the people in a series of pictures taken of just their feet. The only group that could be identified by nearly everyone 100 percent of the time was the Americans. Why on earth would we dress that way?
Of course, I had dressed in white socks and shoes because I was wearing my shorts and I didn’t want to look like a dork and stand out in the crowd, which was exactly what I was doing. (She didn’t mention my baseball cap, but that is apparently another sign you are an American, unless you are less than 25 years old.) When I found out about it, I immediately went downtown and purchased a different kind of hat, and I put on my black socks with my dark green walking shoes. Now I look exactly like a dork, but I seem to blend in better with my surroundings.
I showed up later that night in the tent Brian was working in at the StuStaCulum and asked him what he thought. "Not bad," he said, "but roll your socks down some."
|Author with European Look.A rather poor shot of our author with his new European look. The white socks have been saved for the tennis courts, where they are certain to turn the color of red clay and stay that way.|
Copyright © 2006 David W. Fanning
Last Updated 11 January 2006