Monday, October 13, 2008

I love it when a plan comes together

Sunday we were visited by some friends who up until now had never been to our house. (Germans tend to entertain outside of the house... the home is pretty much just for you - perhaps it is because the city places are just so small) The menu was decided about four days out, and the required elements were for the most part purchased the day before, in true German fashion, to have the freshest ingredients.

Side note here. I'm always a little nervous about planning a group encounter at our house on Sundays. Since the stores are closed on that day, I always suffer from "do we have ABSOLUTELY everything we might need plus some we might not" syndrome in the lead up to the event. There will be no easy popping over to the local grocery store if suddenly you find out that the sour cream really is SOUR. (By the way, how do you KNOW if sour cream is sour?)

Cooking the majority of the items the night before really made for a nice experience in prep work in the hour we had before our guests arrived. N. helped a LOT in every way she could and things just kind of came together. At 15 minutes before their planned arrival time we got a message which said that they would be 30 minutes late. OK, no worries. It's not like I've got a souffle in the oven or something... it is Tex Mex. Plus it gave me some time to wash some of the dishes beforehand, lessening the BIG cleanup task which I knew would have to wait until the evening after.

The picture is N. wasting time before they arrive by watching TV. I heard a commercial coming on which I knew would end up with a guy in sombrero and serape ... so I thought a picture was in order.

The food was good, not fantastic dammit... but it was good. Unfortunately my guacamole ended up a bit heavy on the lemon juice. So I added more avocado (part of that "plus some" shopping experience... I got 3 avocados for the dip, and one more just in case) and the extra one seemed to really help. The stuff needed some serious salt for my taste, but I didn't want to over salt just in case the others didn't like it. All in all it had just the right consistency, not too much tomato, and was simply fantastic!

As I expected, the tortillas were substandard and a bit dry (this really makes me miss my local tortilla factory back in Kansas). The refried beans were OK for out of a can. Sarah at Regensblog suggested that I try making them myself in the future... hmm... that looks like a LOT of work. (But I would be more than happy to invite myself down to Regensburg to help you put them together at your house.) The chilis were so damn hot that I hesitated to use more than just a few in the meat mix. But the leftovers did make great table decoration. Tee hee hee. Does anybody have a nice idea what to do with about 7 fire-hot chilis?

When it came to our visitors, I must say that we really enjoyed ourselves. Surely it wasn't only the wine that had everyone smiling so warmly. It is a pleasure to say that I feel N. and I have found a great pair of people for friends, and I am very happy.

A pair of couples starting a relationship is an interesting happening in my eyes. I look at the four of us and easily see that N. and friend 1 have a LOT in common, down to the way they think and reason things. But it is also intriguing to find that friend 2 and I have a lot in common as well... even though we have a bit of a language difficulty... she speaks very little English, and I speak very little German. On top of this lovely problem she speaks with a Vogtland accent (area of Sachsen known for their unusual accent), and I have enough trouble with regular German. But we are fast becoming better friends and somehow find a way to communicate.

The reason most of the meal required prep time the previous night was because N. had a 10K running event early in the afternoon of the meal. It had about 6,000 participants with part of the track touring the zoo... cool, eh? She and her father just love these things and had decided to run together. MIL and I took the opportunity to walk the grounds of Charlottenburg Palace as we waited for them to get back.

These events are one of the few times that I really don't appreciate being so short. People line the running track, making it difficult for me to see my loved ones. Of course I'm standing there ready to take pictures and scream encouragement, but so are about 12,000 other people. Perhaps I could use some stilts or maybe a ladder in the future... I am taking suggestions.

I've often asked N. to wear a florescent vest or something which would make it easier to see her coming, but she not so respectfully declines... um, I guess that would be uncool. Remember this is the woman that color-coordinates her running suits.

Some of the other runners wear gear which makes them stand out. Yesterday I saw a guy in black shorts accompanied by a long-sleeved formal white shirt topped with a black bow tie. He looked absolutely dashing as he flew past me. We always see "Statue of Liberty guy" who runs wearing one of the green foam crowns, and every race has some poor schmuck who is paid to run with an advertising board or suit over his body.

Not only do I have trouble finding my loved ones to urge onward, but they have trouble seeing me too. People on the sidelines also do things to be noticed by their runners. In the past I've had a helium balloon attached to my backpack. This is OK as long as there is no wind... but with a bit of a breeze it tends to knock itself about and bonk strangers in the head. While I realize that this keeps people at a nice distance, alas something inside makes me see that it just isn't polite.

One lady who stood across the street from us had the coolest idea; she held an umbrella with balloons attached to it and dangling down all around it were pretzels! We watched her as she welcomed about six people to the finish line (must have been a club)... and each time they would come to her first and pick up their pretzel before going on to claim their medal. How cool, eh?


C N Heidelberg said...

Mm, that food sounds awesome!

We have made our own refried beans a few times. They are fine. I still don't have any problem using canned though!

Agree re: the German flour tortillas. There's something not right about them, and they're too small.

Sarah said...

Dude, your tortillas were dry? I usually find them kind of gummy. At any rate, they're never quite right.

And you and N. are welcome for beans any time. Just gimme a couple days notice ;)

Snooker said...

@ C N & Sarah - Yeah, the tortillas were dry enough that I put EXTRA water in to steam them in the microwave. It didn't help... where the tortilla bent, it almost always broke open. Sucks. I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to make my own.