I’ve Discovered Hell

And it’s pretty tasty.

We went to the Getranke Markt Saturday and bought some beers we’d never seen before.  We were amused by a few “Hell” labels, so we snapped some bottles up.  (Sometimes amusement is as good a motivation as any.)

Popped open a cold “Hacker-Pschorr Munchner Hell” last night.  YUM!  It was fabulous!

Helles beers are a Pilsner-like class, so if you like the lightness of a Pilsner, you should give Hell a try!

Guten Appetit, Bottoms Up, and see you at confession in a few days!

Give ’em hell!

A Morning in Metz

Our first Saturdays in Europe have been rather soggy.  The second and third were DSC_0450both rainy days—not overwhelmingly stormy, batten-down-the-hatches-and-read-a-book days, but still rainy enough to make us favor some activities over others.  If you’ve read my post on The Maginot Line, then you know how we spent one Saturday.  Well, we woke up a week ago favoring a short jaunt out to either Trier, Germany or Metz, France.  (Both are just over an hour from where we live.)  When we woke to rain, Metz seemed the better choice, as part of the draw there was an indoor shopping excursion.

I’ll pause here to defend myself.  Some people like to believe that American philosophy runs only so deep:  “I shop, therefore I am. . .American.”   A little unfair, and at least a little untrue.  Many weeks ago I wrote a post, “Boxing Up My Life,” that explained my slightly quirky relationship with things:  found items, antiques, artifacts of places I’ve been, or bits of history.  I’m not an Olympic class shopper, but I am a magpie who collects shiny bits and baubles here and there, so the antique market in Metz is just my kind of place.  A place where it’s as much about the stories and history as it is about the stuff.

So to Metz:  Allons-y!

We woke fairly early and loaded the kids in the car.  They were groggy, but pleasant.  Until I let it slip that the day would include some antique shopping.  That didn’t go over well.  To say the least.

Tres Chic
Tres Chic

But once we arrived at the market, that all changed. My daughter was happy to find a small table with perfumes. She bought two small (think Stuart Little size) bottles: Chanel and Prada.  They smell so good—next trip I’ll plan to follow her lead.

So convenient: a means to cut off your finger, and a suggestion of where to go for medical care.

And my son was absolutely giddy to find old weapons.  (All boy!)  He bought a vintage pocket knife—a trinket that manages to be a perfect product of its region and an ingenious (but rather wicked) marketing ploy.   It has a drawing of “Maison de Cure de Haslach Munster”—a hospital in Munster, Alsace which manages to sound both French and German at the same time (so typical of this region).  And here’s the marketing ploy. . . consider the chain of events:  Boy buys pocket knife; boys begins whittling wood, but ends up cutting off finger; parents panic and seek medical treatment; the image on the knife suggests just the hospital they run too.  Ingenious.

Playing it a little safer, James and I bought a wine caddy—not old, but still charming enough.  And, of course, we had to stop by the market on the way home and buy a few bottles of French and Spanish wine.  Because if you give a mouse a cookie. . . DSC_0453


After the market, we made our way into the medieval town square of Metz.  We arrived at said destination by weaving our way through winding streets lined with bakeries and konditories.  No hardship there.  We nibbled as we walked toward Place Saint Louis.

I posted a couple of photos from Metz this past week, so I won’t repost those here.  Because it was a rainy day, I didn’t take too many photos—but it was a charming town.  In the square, chess tables were set up for competition and a beautiful old carousel sat waiting for riders who were willing to dash out into the rain.  We were tempted, but, owing to damp feet and hungry children, we ducked into a restaurant instead.

There is so very much to Metz to see and to learn—and we didn’t even scratch the surface.  It was a short and soggy trip, but one that whetted our appetites for both the city and the market.  We’ll definitely be returning soon to see more of the historic sites on a sunny day!

I found a great article on Metz in France Today;  I’ll share the link here for anyone who is interested. http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2012/09/24/discovering_metz.html

Disgruntled Siblings and the French-German Border Disputes

File from Wikimedia Commons.
File from Wikimedia Commons.

I’m sure there is some sort of Universal Karmic connection between my children’s behavior and the long history of border disputes between France and Germany.  Just hear me out.

We made another jaunt over the border into France this weekend.  (I’ll write more about that soon.) We live less than an hour’s drive from the border…but the border wasn’t always the border.  In fact, given the history of the French-German border, I think they should just call it the Sorta-Borda, because (if history is any predictor) it will be shifting again any decade now.  It’s like the San Andreas Fault in California—once the pressure builds, it will shift.  It’s like my kids that way too…but more on that later.

About the “borderlands” of Germany and France: I recall some long-ago history class lecture about the Alsace-Lorraine region of France being  passed back and forth between German and French hands over the centuries.    The cuisine, town names, and architecture  make  this  blatantly obvious.

But I’ve only just learned that this geographic game of “hot potato” has continued into the 1900’s, and included some areas of the Rhineland-Saarland in Germany.    In the 1870’s, the French lost much of the Alsace region—as far in as Metz—to the Germans, and it wasn’t returned again until 1918.    On the flip side,  my husband tells me that parts of  the present-day German Saarland were only “re-Germanated” in the 1950’s.

About Snarky Siblings: This historical perspective makes me feel a little better about the “border disputes” that have been going on in our family since we moved into our Scooby Doo castle-house—we seem to be stuck in the “Hassle in the Castle” episode.  The kids are constantly arguing about which room is better, who gets which room, who then lays claim to the room that falls between the two rooms, who gets dibs on the top floor of the house, etc.

Holy Crum!  I think we are heir to two legacies here—the teen/preteen gimmees, and the French/German borderland disputes.  That equals “land-grab squared,” and it ain’t pretty.  Whatever developmental/hormonal  forces are at play with my kids are ramped up by some sort of historical/geographic energy field that is beyond our control.

That’s how it seems… and it makes for the better story.   Who’s to say that it’s not true?  I grew up in the South, and I’m convinced that the power of place is strong.

With a little parental intervention, our in-house border disputes seem to be slowly working themselves out.  Let’s hope they hold more firm than their European historical precedents.

Only time will tell.