How to Be a German-American
March 18, 2014
For lunch, make slices of toast from dark bread crunchy with seeds and grains then top it with fresh leberwurst and thin slips of yellow onion, cracked black pepper and coarse salt. For lunch the next day, make tacos on corn tortillas loaded up with limey guacamole, habanero, red onion and corn salsa, sour cream and ripe, red tomatoes.
Never lean too much one way or too much the other. Love butter with cheese. Love brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tarts.
Live in both lands and languages, never mind being better at one or the other.
Know how to whip up the dough for spätzle and how to press it into boiling water, waiting for the little gnarled noodles to bob up to the surface. Sweep them out with a slotted spoon. Know that the secret to spätzle is to fry them up in a buttered pan with cheese until the knobs sport caramel-colored scabs that crunch between your teeth. Know the warmth of eating at on old wooden table with a knit beige cloth and chipped, flower-printed plates.
Know how to mash raw ground beef with chopped onion and garlic, just the right amounts of salt and pepper, the secret spices you’d never share. Maybe crumbled blue cheese. Know how to throw it on a hot grill while the grease sizzles into the coals, shooting up spurts of fire. Know how it feels to have warm summer grass between your toes, potato chip salt stuck to your fingers and a mayonnaise-soft potato salad gluing to the bottom of a paper plate.
Laugh at the idiocies of both your homes. Laugh at yourself when you frown severely at pedestrians in the bike lanes. And when you make fun of the people frowning severely at pedestrians in the bike lanes.
Fight for IPAs in Germany and the hard-to-find good Hefeweizens in the US.
Feel a little out of place in either country, but feel how much of one country you are when you’re in the other. Even two halves that don’t match make a whole.