06 June 2010

A Day in the Life: Diary of a Foodie

Living Abroad - A Foodie Day in Mainz

 Living in Germany has really given me the opportunity to embrace food in a way I haven't before. And it allows for some great Saturday adventures. The Farmer's Market here in Mainz is unbelievable. It runs Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, year-long. I usually go shopping on Tuesday or Friday, because Saturday is like a whole different beast. Throngs of people crowd stands piled with fresh local and imported produce. Delicious smells waft over the crowd, lending to more of a carnival atmosphere than a mere farmer's market.

Saturday is my favorite.

Not for shopping, but just for the experience. In fact, forget shopping at the Mainz Farmer's Market on Saturday; you're lucky if you can get yourself through the crowd, let alone yourself weighed down with bags and baskets of plump delicate strawberries, and a cup of freshly pressed juice. You'd be lucky to get out of there alive, let alone clean and unblemished. I love it.

Saturday at the Market

Yesterday was no exception. As the weather heats up, the market grows bigger and bigger, offering everything you can think of: strawberries, pineapples, chicken, eggs, flowers, olives... I can go on and on. But the best is the German specialties. This is why we went yesterday. The market isn't merely a market - it's an excursion. And we decided it would be a great place to stop for some lunch.

Essen (Eating)

The produce and grocery items aside, this market is fantastic for a quick bite. One stand offers hot Wildwurst mit Brot (sausage made from game, accompanied by a slice of fresh bread, and German mustard); one offers Fischbrötchen, a crusty roll filled with shrimp salad, or (my new favorite) local smoked trout and horseradish sauce; another offers Schneckefleishwurst, a sausage made from snail meat?! (I plan to go back for one of those bad boys next week). You see groups of Germans around tall tables, eating what looks like a hunk of bologna, alternating bites of a fresh roll. They really like their sausage/roll combo here - it's even a typical breakfast. And who can ignore the trucks selling all sorts of German sweets... (drool)

Trinken (Drinking)

Of course, a meal isn't a meal without something to wash it down. Only on Saturdays, you'll find a huge group around one particular corner of the market. This is where you can get your inevitable glass of locally made German wine. Choose your beverage, pay your glass deposit, and feel free to roam around. Yes, in public. No, that's not just for the market. You buy a bottle of beer at a convenience store, and you can stroll along Schillerplatz, no brown bag needed. Given the heat yesterday, we chose a Weinschorle. Essentially, it's a white wine spritzer, in this instance made with Rheinland Riesling. So we set to strolling the produce booths, gawking at the local goods, knowing we had too much to do that day to actually shop, and carry around pounds and pounds of delicate produce (that's what Tuesdays are for). 

So we strolled, wine in hand. We saw the egg man, with his chicken sleeping on the table as usual. We went past my new favorite stand, so I could gawk at the fresh black truffles (50 cents per gram, ouch!). We found some shade and watched other strollers - the lady with the bright orange shoes; the 12 year old boy who hugged and kissed his father - in public; the cute little old ladies pattering along with their baskets and canes. And then the wine was gone, so we went back for our deposit and continued to explore Mainz.

Saturdays in Mainz

Saturdays in Mainz are really something special, especially if you - like me - like to people watch. Walking along downtown you'll see some unexpected things. A few things we saw yesterday:

A bagpiper in full out regalia, kilt and all. Of course.

A girl on a bike, towing a trolley with a few canvases in back. Surrounded by trumpet players. And people finger painting on aforementioned canvases while the whole procession moves along. (Modern/performance art... I don't get it, but it was kind of fun to watch)

A quartet of young musicians, complete with percussion (consisting of one snare drum and a box), 2 fiddlers, and a guitar, playing "Smooth Criminal."

Dinner anyone?

After all that action, we had to go home, rest, apply lotion to our burned shoulders and noses. Initially, we planned to find this great little winery on the outskirts of town for a light dinner, but decided we didn't feel up to taking a bus, then a tram, then walking 10 minutes to get there (this is assuming we manage to not get lost - quite a feat for us really). No, instead, we found this restaurant:

Ten minutes by bus, across the river into Mainz-Kastel, and a 2 minute walk to the restaurant (which you can see from the bus stop - no fear of getting lost there!). The restaurant is built into an old herring-fishing boat from Holland, and serves traditional Dutch food (review and photos to come soon).

The day ended with a lovely walk through a park we'd never known about, and an up-close sighting of a Lamborghini... All in all, I'd say it was a pretty perfect Saturday.

Where would you spend your perfect Saturday?


  1. Wow, what an idyllic sounding day - it does sound pretty perfect!

    How did you hold yourself back from buying things though? I would have had to pick up *something*!

  2. Lucky for me, the FM runs 3 times per week, so I can hold back if need be. The plan for the day was to get on a bus later and go to a winery (which ended up not happening) and we didn't want to lug a bunch of stuff around... because once I start, I find it difficult to stop :)


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