While I recover from the holidays, please take a while to read Magnolia’s post. Magnolia Ripkin is the person to turn to if you’re looking for life advice. And also if you don’t need it, since her blog’s tagline is “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.” Magnolia is one of the funniest, wisest, most curageous women I know. She is also the wonderful editor at BLUNTmoms, turning the chaos that are my posts even if I work on them real hard, into something that is actually readable.
You may not know it but Magnolia is also an expat, from Germany living in Canada to be exact. In this post, she writes how she keeps the love of sauerkraut alive in the family. I love it. And sauerkraut, which is by the way also very popular in Poland. ANd now I want some sauerkraut, too.
Pass the sauerkraut
Growing up as a first generation Canadian, I had a similar experience to many other children of immigrants. My parents, my grandparents and the culturally connected community of fellow immigrants never fully engaged with their “new” country. As a teen I knew more about the music, food, even news in Germany than Canada. I remember my first day of high school seeing a kid wearing a t-shirt that said “Cheap Trick”. It took me a while to figure out that was a band and not a comment on his first day at school. Dad played accordion… and European music so I was completely out of the cool zone. I had however seen Nana Mouskouri in concert, so I had that going for me.
In elementary school, my lunches were alien and included rye bread with salami and cured sausage bites. I begged my mother for white bread sandwiches and wagon wheels. To no avail, the food remained firmly honouring the fatherland.
We had family dinners with roast pork, red cabbage and dumplings. We spoke loudly in harsh German tones while cakes and baked goods were paraded out of the kitchen. We were a German family living in a North American country, in a French speaking province.
As a kid, it didn’t dawn on me how often our house smelled of sauerkraut because Dad was letting it pickle in big metal milk cans under the bathroom counters. Other times the house smelled of beer…. Lots of beer… and salami. My friends had cakes from the store or a box mix for their birthdays, I had black forest cakes laden with kirsch and covered in real whip cream.
I realize now that all of these things were ties to the culture my family elders left behind for a new land. I don’t think they would have said “we must keep our culture strong with our children” but they for sure said “speak German more, you have to know how in case we ever need to go back”. It made me afraid to think we might have to move, but I spoke the language.
In addition to keeping the culture alive at home, we travelled to visit the homeland often. I was just as familiar with the streets and candy stores of my grandparent’s village in north Germany as I was with my own Canadian town.
Food, language, music and stories make the glue that holds us to our roots. My people took flight and made a new life in a fresh young country, and along with our fellow immigrants, can be proud for improving the quality of sausages across their new homeland.
I have kept with many traditions, including being a VIP customer at the local deli. I still take deep snootfulls when I open a brown paper package of salami. I critique the Fleischsalat when it isn’t made just right. I refuse to buy low quality chocolate (or wax in a bar as I like to call it). I travelled back to Germany with my children to recharge their DNA, and for me to refill my heart with the spirit of my ancestors. And to fill my stomach with baked goods and hot buttered breakfast rolls.
Oma,Opa, Ur-Oma and Ur-Opa, now that I have a home of my own, I think you would love Christmas at our house. The room sparkles with the best St. Nicklaus chocolates in sparkling foil, and the tables are laden with warm potato salad, cold cuts and knockwurst on crusty buns. We feed ourselves and our guests German food, and teach them the proper way to pronounce the names for each item.
Above all, I keep your culture alive for the next generation almost 60 years since you boarded the boat for your journey to a new land.
Magnolia Ripkin is sort of like your mouthy Aunt who drinks too much and tells you how to run your life, except funny… well mostly funny… like a cold glass of water in the face. Channeling Erma Bombeck and Dear Abby she is flinging out advice, answering pressing questions about business, personal development, parenting, heck even the bedroom isn’t safe. New to the scene, she would love to answer your reader questions. Other places to find her: Huffington Post and check her out in the amazing compendium of hot bloggers who are published in I Just Want to Be Alone (I Just Want to Pee Alone) from www.amazon.com and on her blog www.magnoliaripkin.com