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German Grocery Store Adventure #1: Salz

So it's no secret that I like to cook. Having been a server, busser, ice cream consultant, line cook, baker, pastry chef, or food saleswoman for the last fifteen years it would be accurate to describe me as food-obsessed. I love everything about it: eating it, making it, even washing the remains of it off dishes (I don't discriminate). I also really love buying it, making grocery shopping one of my favorite household tasks. For me it feels like part cooking and part retail therapy. I get to pick recipes to make during the week (thank you NYT and Sam Sifton), make a shopping list (LOVE), cross things off that list (EXTRA LOVE), and then make meals all week with the great stuff I bought. Even just typing that sequence put a huge smile on my face. I think I just really like being surrounded by a seemingly endless inventory of edible items, all available to me should I need them. That's why going to grocery stores in foreign countries is one of my favorite activities. Seeing what's on the shelves (and missing from the shelves), at the markets, learning the translation, and seeing the traditional preparation of different foods is one of my favorite parts about traveling. Like the Brits call arugula rocket, Scandinavians love their sandwiches open-faced (smørrebrød), cilantro is called coriander pretty much everywhere other than North America, the French don't refrigerate their eggs, they really do eat dog meat in Vietnam, in Mexico shrimp are called camarones but in Spain they're called gambas, and in Asia bell peppers are called capsicum, which is the latin Genus for pretty much all peppers and chilies. You can learn so much about a culture by visiting their grocery stores and markets. So, with that I give you German Grocery Store Adventures, a series I plan to update regularly as I learn how to go about grocery shopping in a foreign country and in a foreign language.

In German, salt is called Salz. The town in Austria where salt mining was a great generator of wealth and a productive business for over 7,000 years? Salzburg, duh! At the Airbnb where we are temporarily living, the kitchen only has Jodsalz which is iodized salt. Cooking with iodized salt is not good. The salt granules themselves are a weird ball shape, they slip out of your fingertips and don't stick to food well, it has a stronger and more chemical-forward salinity than other salts, and I'm not trying to gargle a goiter away so I don't need to cook with iodized salt —and hopefully neither do you. I went on a mission today to find the German equivalent of Kosher salt. The closest thing I came across is called Küchen Salz which means kitchen salt. It was no Diamond Crystal but the box was a bit bigger (good sign) and when I peeked into the busted box— I swear I didn't do it— the crystals looked closer to the familiar, flakey grains of Kosher salt that I'm used to (great sign). It's not the same, but it's definitely better than the tight little balls of jodsalz at our apartment. I feel like this tiny grocery store victory more than makes up for our last two fails where in the same trip 1) I bought what I thought was a whole chicken only to come home and realize after taking the meat out of the package that I had bought two super giant turkey wings (Putenflügel) and 2) Christian bought what he thought was sliced mortadella but after tasting it re-analyzed the package and learned that it, too, was made from turkey (Puten Mortadella?!) which should totally be against the law. Now we both know—and will never forget—that Puten means turkey. I anticipate ingesting more foods unintentionally during our time here in Europe but I'm ok with that. It comes with the territory of living outside your comfort zone and it's a great way to try new things, even if they should probably be illegal.