Chronicles of a writer abroad

Hausfrau adventures


Some of the things that have been keeping me busy these days:

Unpacking. Yep, it never seems to end. That, and furniture-building. If we ever get these two things accomplished to the point that this looks like a habitable space, I’ll post some “after” pictures.

User manuals. Due to the renovation that happened before we moved in, all of the appliances in our flat are new. Normally, in a new apartment I’d just turn on the oven/dishwasher/washing machine and figure out how it works, but these appliances were just too foreboding, with their gleaming newness and inscrutable settings (are you telling me you would be so cavalier as to choose randomly between “pfleigeleicht” and “koch/bunt” on a washing machine — isn’t that a dangerous game of chance?) So I’ve spent a lot of time translating the user manuals for these things. It’s a worthwhile investment, I figure, and there is language learning built into the deal (I’m now fluent in German laundry!).

Replacing some favourite foods. My favourite breakfast food in Canada, which I ate every day for over a year without tiring of it, was this:

Those of you still living in Canada: if you are a fan of oatmeal and of maple nut flavouring (mmm…maple nut), this won’t disappoint you. I had packed one box of this into the “dry goods” section of our shipment, and can report that even after having exposed my palette to many European delicacies, this is still my favourite breakfast. My box will run out all too quickly, though, so the task is to develop a reliable recipe for this. I brought some maple syrup with me, not knowing if I’d be able to find it here (FYI, you can: they have peanut butter here, too, though I’d been told they wouldn’t) and the only other things I need are oats and hazelnuts. Seems simple enough…but my attempts so far have failed to come anywhere close.  I’ll keep at it!

In general, living here and having time to cook (read: being unemployed) is a great opportunity for me to move away from processed foods. I consider myself to be a pretty good baker, but when it comes to cooking…well, I often find it easier to just heat up a can of soup or stick a frozen lasagna in the oven. Stelian and I often cook full meals together, but it’d be nice if a sophisticated dinner could greet him when he gets home (or if there were the faintest possibility of that happening). So as life here normalizes a bit, and I have fewer awkward encounters to recount, I may begin to chronicle my foray into cooking.  We’ll see.

But for today, since Stelian’s playing indoor volleyball after work and I’m not planning to cook just for myself, let me regale you with the following awkward encounter: I was running in the neighborhood and a little pug suddenly darted across the street, yapping in a wild and angry fashion about my ankles. I stopped running, unsure of what to do. His owner, on the other side of the street, was instructing me, in Swiss German, how to get him to desist. The language barrier caused some stress and confusion, but eventually I understood that I needed to pet and murmur to the little dog so that he would stop thinking I was a bandit that he needed to protect the city of Zürich from. So I stroked his little face and cooed random German words at him – Entschuldigung, Bitte, Danke, Adieu, Adieu – until he was calm enough to let me proceed. The cats would’ve been über jealous.

Exploring the new neighborhood. During the same run, I came across some sheep and a very nice forested area. I’ll take and post pictures soon — hopefully tomorrow!


5 thoughts on “Hausfrau adventures

  1. Mystifying the local husbandry, one pug at a time!

    But really, we all are creatures of habit. Just as the pug delights in running down bandits in the same fashion every encounter he gets, so too do we bipedals take equal pleasure in favourite foods, which we dispatch with unending gusto (although I must say that maple flavoured oatmeal strikes me as, uh, unusual, shall we say, but in comparison to Boppy’s daily “soup” for lunch, perhaps its not all that weird after all.

    • Yes, we are all indeed creatures of habit. There was another day when a border collie tried, very insistently, to herd me like a sheep until the owner called him off. It provides entertainment during a run, anyway. My dad, after running for almost 30 years, has dog stories of post-carrier proportions!

  2. Kristen, you make my day at each post. I can’t stop smiling and as soon as I’ve read the latest episode, I call Boppy to read it, particularly this morning after Paul’s snarky comment about soup!
    Who would have thought that a ‘care’ package from Canada would have to contain oatmeal and hazelnuts? I can understand your withdrawal symptoms though; I would have the same difficulty if peanut butter suddenly became unobtainable.
    Finally, thank goodness for appliance manuals. Those German words really are intimidating!!!

  3. Pingback: Catching up | Milchtoast

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s