Monday, October 22, 2007

Remember us...

...when you are sitting on the beach.
...when you are having a BBQ in the sun.
...when you are forgetting to put sunscreen on your forehead.
...when you are in general enjoying the warm summer weather in AUS.

Why? Well, when we got up it was around 0C, and at 10:14am it is still around 3C...and winter isn't even here yet. :(


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wilkommen in der Heldenzeit!

On Tuesday last week, Bel and I headed in to Offenbach (it's own town, and NEVER to be called a part of Frankfurt) to see Wir sind Helden play in the Offenbach Stadthalle. I had been looking forward to this gig for ages, and the Helden didn't let us down.

At the gig you noticed the effect of the new non-smoking laws as all the fans stood outside tarring their lungs before the show started. Inside the venue there was not a single whisp of the foul smelling blue smoke to be seen - and I was a very happy camper!

I don't remember the name of the warm-up band, but that is ok, as I won't be rushing out to buy their CD. I mean, they were ok, but they were a little loud and heavy compared to the Helden, so they didn't really fit the scene - IMHO.

Around 9pm Wir sind Helden hit the stage, and went on to perform for somewhere between 90min and 2hrs, with 2 encores. I am not the world's biggest fan of the guaranteed encore, but I am glad these guys came back on twice and added some of the older and really popular tracks to the gig - tracks like "Elefant für Dich" (Elephant for you) and "Denkmal" (Monument).

During the gig, Judith Holofernes (who formed the band, and does all the vocals), who was a little sick, laid down some great vocal and guitar performances and was dancing and jumping around like a complete freak the whole time, kitted out in a green dress with purple pockets that reminds you of the uniforms in US Diners - classic. Jean-Michel Tourette put in some nice work on the guitar and a few different forms of keyboard, including one that is worn like an electric guitar. The other two members of the group rounded out the performance with some nice work on guitar and drums as well, with the whole band then backed up a 3 piece brass section for that extra bit of umphf.

Anyway - if you want to learn any more about the band, check them out on Wikipedia or on their own website.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The worst Wurst?

After dinner tonight I switched the TV on and flicked over to N-24, which is a station that does a lot of Docos and other stuff. Part of tonight's Wissen section was showing us how Zungenwurst (or Tongue Sausage) is made.

Basically Zungenwurst is a Blutwurst (blood sausage) that also contains pigs tongues. The pigs tongues are put into a big drum with salt and some water for about 24hrs, then they are cooked for a while, before being shock cooled in ice water. You know that the tongues are correctly cooked at this point because the slime and other crappy bits of the tongue can be removed with your bare hands without much effort.
While this is going on, fat from a pig's back gets cubed and cooked in boiling water. You know the fat cubes are ready when you squeeze one between your fingers and it easily springs out and flies around the room.
Into our lovely pig fat comes a shit load of fresh (important) pigs blood. If it wasn't fresh, the blood would have clumps and wouldn't taste like fresh death - and we wouldn't want that now, would we?
After the death juice and the fat gets mixed together for a while, it is then filled (by hand - poor sausage makers) into synthetic intestines (sausage skin), and then 4 full tongues are inserted by hand into the blood and back-fat mix that is now conjealing and quivering in the food-condom.
The slowly conjealing mass is now cooked for a couple of hours to ensure that the blood and tongue doesn't try and french-kiss you like an French Rugby Union front-rower who just got hit in the mouth when you try and eat it, and then gets shipped off for us to enjoy (?!?!?!) on our tables all over Germany.

Now, I have seen some pretty horrible sausages in my time here, but this one "licks" them all.

This is the variety with the whole tongues and diced pig fat. There are also other "cheaper" varieties where the tongue is cubed and mixed in, so you don't know if that chewy disgusting mass in your mouth is fat, pig tongue, or a part of your own tongue that you bit off in the hope that you would never taste anything like this ever again...


Monday, October 08, 2007

Thank you for Smoking!

Firstly, if you have never seen "Thank you for Smoking!" then you really should hire it and have a squiz. Quite a funny piss-take on the smoking industry.

In line with most people in the world, I really don't like Mondays. But I have to say that I really loved last Monday! Why? Well, on 1st Oct 2007 the new Anti Smoking Laws (Nichtraucherschutz) kicked in in Hessen and a lot of other states in Germany. Now it is no longer legal to smoke in restaurants, pubs, clubs, trains, etc, unless a completely sealed off seperate room is provided. There are a few exceptions to the rule (eg.
Festzelte or festival tents), but for the most part jetzt ist Schluß!

The first time I actually noticed the effects of the new laws were actually the day before they kicked in, when I picked Bel up from the Airport. Usually there are a bunch of people standing around smoking in the arrivals hall, but now all of the ashtrays have been removed, and the air there smells like...well...air! Now the only place they are allowed to smoke is in little smoking rooms scattered around the airport.

In open railway stations, people are still allowed to smoke on the platforms, but only in certain areas. So all of the smokers have to huddle together inside the yellow box painted on the platform and smoke their lives away. That means that the rest of us can stand at a distance and just point and laugh while they merrily kill themselves with no further impact on us.

One of the coolest parts of this whole thing was the speed with which it was done. None of this "give them 18 months to prepare" or whatever - it was announced in the first week of September (and right at the end of the week), and came in to force on the 1st October. Therefore most places haven't had time to prepare the "seperate room of death", and therefore smoking is completely gone in most places.

Anyway - thank you German Government for finally saving my lungs. Pity you couldn't have done it earlier...