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The Mime & I

August 24, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games, Italia, Looking, spazarific, writing

I heard him before I saw him: Signorina! You, the one who’s getting wet. It was a mime – painted gold, dressed as Casanova.

This was December 2005. Rome. La Fontana di Trevi. It was pouring, thus, my getting wet. Thus, my chilly reply: Mimes don’t talk.

His name was Marius. He was Polish. I’ll buy you a coffee. C’mon – what else is there to do in the rain? He had a point. He pulled out a duffel bag from behind a tree. We went to a cafe – espresso for him; hot chocolate for me. Passerby gaped through the wet windows.

Q: So what does one talk about with a mime, anyway?

A: SEX. Who knew? The mime took his role as Casanova seriously: Let’s go to my place. But why not? I’m Casanova; no woman can resist! I only need ten minutes. I looked longingly at the door – still raining. Then, an exclamation point zoomed off the top of Casanova’s wig: I’ll change out of costume. You’ll see I’m a regular guy. He grabbed his bag and disappeared into the bathroom.

Some minutes later, Marius emerged – rugged, good-looking, with a shaved head, wearing a black sweater. But he wasn’t so confident without his pantaloons. Now he only sat silently, shredding a napkin. Gone were the come-ons. Gone was the grin.

The cafe clock ticked.

Finally, he said: I guess I’ll go home.

And he disappeared into the rain.

This post has been entered in the GranTourismo and Home Away Holiday Rentals August Travel Blogging Competition.

Some Like It Raw: Mettbroetchen in Düsseldorf

May 26, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games, Looking, spazarific, WanderFood

On my second day in Düsseldorf, my friends Hans and Marie took me to a series of Düsseldorf brauhauses. If you’re religious, you know that a brauhaus is where good beer drinkers go after they die. Beer hall/beer garden, flowing with home brew. No need to head to the bar as a waiter makes frequent rounds. Leave your glass uncovered when he comes by and get an automatic refill. The kicker? A glass at a German brauhaus only costs around 1 Euro. Paradise found.

We started the brauhaus tour at Uerige, home to the famous wooden statue of the Düsseldorf cartwheeling boy. I was slow to get hep to the automatic refill routine, so I ended up double-fisting immediately.

Age old proverb: Double-fist beer and you’ll soon need a good nosh. A peek at the Uerige menu revealed a selection of simple German snacks like Blutwurst (blood sausage), pickled eggs, Liverwurst, pickled cucumbers, and bread. It was Marie who suggested I try the Mettbroetchen, a regional specialty. Mettbroetchen is raw ground pork on a roll, served with or without raw diced onions.

It is here that I reveal my penchant for raw or rare flesh. What can I say? I love it. Always have. As my brother would say: cut off its horns, wipe its snout, and put it on a plate*. I’ve devoured steak tartare, raw oysters, shrimp, octopus, horse, and chicken liver. And, of course, my fascination with sushi was the earliest inkling of the Japanophilia that eventually led me to live in Osaka for two years. Some day, my tombstone will read: She wouldn’t smoke cigarettes or do drugs, but by cracky, did she love her some raw meat. So, yeah, I’ll have some Mettbroetchen. How do you say ‘bring it’ in German?

The rolls arrived, smeared with a pink, sheeny substance – identical to what I bring home cold and dead from the butcher. At that moment, it struck me that perhaps this was a bit gutsy; trichinosis and such. I’d only recently overcome a furious bout of seafood poisoning after all. But to travel is to discover – clueless and eager as a newborn, everything goes in the mouth.

“With salt and pepper,” instructed Marie, lashing her Mettbroetchen with spices. I followed suit, catching a whiff of pungent onions as I hunched over my brauhaus snack. I lifted my roll. I took a sip of briny beer to prepare my palate.

FACT: Raw ground pork on a roll is pretty freaking tasty. Savory and smooth with a slight smokiness; heightened by the crunch of tart onions. Perfect with dark beer.

FACT: Raw ground meat topping gets stuck in the teeth like nobody’s business.

I’m talking caveman rules here. Kill pig, put in mouth. Grunt. Chew. Grrr – back off or I get club. This my Mettbroetchen. Mine. And Mettbroetchen delicious.

*sorry, Vegans.

This post has been brought to you by WanderFood Wednesday.

This post has also been entered in the  Grantourismo-HomeAway Travel Writing Competition.

The Party Train to Galway

April 23, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games

Two champagne corks pop and, behind me, several men discuss doing Jägermeister shots. They want to do them right here and right now, on the train. I’ve apparently boarded the Party Car to Galway, but I don’t mind. It’s a good day; good to be among other happy people for the next couple of hours.

There’s a woman sitting across from me. Her name is Moire; I know this because she reserved her seat and her name is printed above her head, like mine. Moire’s got her coat pulled up to her chin and she’s attempting to take a nap, but every few seconds her eyes flutter open and she regards me in bewilderment. Perhaps the PhotoBooth feature of a MacBook isn’t, in fact, meant to take snapshots from a train window but, by golly, I’m doing it.

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