Spoonfuls of Germany


Oy! Easter eggs next to the Seder plate

Seder plate and Easter eggs

This might sound rather strange – I was initially introduced to Judaism, Jewish customs and traditions, and Yiddish language by a collection of Jewish jokes. As a teenager in Germany I found a yellowed paperback from 1963, Salcia Landmann’s Jüdische Witze, among my mother’s books. Mind you that these are jokes by Jews, not about them. I read the 200 pages of jokes from beginning to end over and over. It is the only book of jokes I ever read. Continue reading



Hungry for Handkäse

Handkäse on bread

I was born in Frankfurt and spent the first 18 years of my life there. But, I never quite identified with the city as my hometown. My parents were both transplants from somewhere else. Except for the ubiquitous Frankfurter sausages, I rarely ate typical Frankfurt foods growing up. Some of them I even dreaded, in particular Handkäse, the pungent sour milk cheese usually marinated with oil, vinegar, onions and caraway. Continue reading


Where are the eggs, please?


On my yearly visits to Germany I realize how the once familiar becomes unfamiliar, which often leads to funny situations. A few years ago I wanted to bake an American cheesecake. At the grocery store I paced up and down the cooler section several times looking for eggs and eventually asked a sales clerk. He stared at me, then walked me to a different part of the store with a shelf fully stocked with eggs. I stood there perplexed and it dawned on me that in Germany, unlike in the United States, eggs are often not refrigerated. Continue reading