Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Tübingen Chooses You" (aka Around Town part 3)

I begin with a weather-related prelude. Some of you have already heard about the powerful and surreal hail storm we had the other day. First, clouds started racing across the sky as fast as I have ever seen them move, and then the sky turned biblical.

I almost could have broken out the skinny skis. 

It's remarkable our windows were not broken like everyone else's around us. Here's what it looked like on our porch, when we weren't huddling in our window-less bathroom. I wish Blogger would stop rejecting my efforts to upload the real video.

"Tübingen Chooses You" is what the owner of our local and newly discovered Jamaican vegetarian restaurant told us when we asked him how he ended up here. I'm not sure what he meant, and I'm pretty sure that he's wrong -- the Max Plank chose Tübingen, and the Humboldt Foundation chose Jeanine -- but I think his line captures what a special place this is and how much we've enjoyed our time here.

Which is not to say that we haven't hit the wall on certain aspects of Germania. Our Utah friend Colleen visited us while in France, and it will suffice to say that we didn't put forward German cuisine in the best light. I won't pause too long on the mediocrity of the $22 strawberry dessert at the fancy place we went to in the lovely countryside with the completely un-deconstructed German food (First World problem) and servers in traditional kitschy garb. But really, $25 for trout at one of the highest-rated restaurants in Tübingen -- named Trout -- and on the plate there's no green vegetable and only boiled potatoes? In addition, I've practiced and practiced the German sentence "No sauce, please," and yet still, with Colleen, we bottomed out on the burger front at a place called Reefs. Notice not only the unsolicited Thousand Island dressing but also the thickness of the patty for $12. Dear Reefs: providing two frozen patties does not make up for their crappiness, and nor does the Sysco cheese.

I really wanted to like Reefs, too. I mean, how many restaurants have a view of a running track?

Meanwhile, I've taken to prayer in the beer gardens. "Dear God, please deliver unto us a miracle and turn the German Pils I just ordered into a hoppy IPA. 

As always, the solution is to do what the Germans do best. The punt boat ride on the Neckar with Colleen was sehr schön. 

Maria and my comrade-in-population-history-arms friend Tom visited us on his way to Nepal. We went to Bebenhausen, our local monastery, where we saw a live-action fairy tale being filmed (it was a bit disconcerting to see the teenage medieval damsel in distress taking a Zigarettepause in full costume, but I enjoyed chatting up the Abbott in the bathroom). And of course Tom's visit called for a trek to Schwärzlocher Hof .

J and I just took a daytrip to Baden Baden and enjoyed one of its famous bath/spa/sauna/pool complexes (though not this historic one). 

In Baden we also saw an exhibit of the Danish/German expressionist Emil Nolde. Visit us in SLC and see a larger version of this one. 

We went out with our German class for a surprising good Japanese dinner and then reveled in spaghetti ice and the wonderful culture of elaborate ice cream menus. 

I tagged along on J's lab retreat at a beautiful cloister, Heiligkreuztal, about an hour away. 

Beats my department's no-overnight retreats at the Hilton Garden Inn.

At the cloister we listened to fun talks on knitting and skydiving and Japan and played PowerPoint Karaoke (having to talk about random and previously unseen slides), at which I was embarrassingly bad. I need ten years to formulate ideas, not 1.2 seconds. And of course wir haben einen Grillparty gemacht.

Misha, with glowing elbow, takes his meat very seriously. On the left is HHB, our benefactor (J's Direktor).

That's a lot of bottles on the table, but they aren't even from the night's main event: this being a retreat of scientists, a few researchers arranged for a very thorough, 13-beer (100 ml cup per) blind beer tasting complete with detailed scoring sheets. The data is still un-crunched, but I did learn after the event that I correctly called the two pale ales, thereby preventing some major egg on the face with all my droning on about bland German beer. Martin and J felt less invested in the tasting. 

Our time grows short here, which is sad, as with just a few days remaining, I finally found a real burger in Tübingen, and for only 6 Euros. It didn't even bother me that, despite the menu's suggestion that the burger came only bacon and cheese and pear, and despite another one of my "Mein Gott, keine Soße" exhortations, it came to the table with Thousand Island Dressing. I can't make this stuff up. But try #2 was the best of the trip -- a real patty! sweet potatoes! -- and I encourage everyone in Tübingen to start the revolution by rewarding the Grüner Ritter. 

If you have made it this far, you've earned a reward. But unfortunately, Blogger still refuses to let me post video, so Ella's imitation of the '80s band Morris Day and the Time will have to wait. But here is a preview. 

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