Customs And Traditions, I Am An Expat, I Am The Lady Who Likes To Bake

Pass The Sauerkraut

Pass The Sauerkraut

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 Avatar

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 and on her blog

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  • Reply Magnolia Ripkin September 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing space for my piece on your blog Olga. It was so nice to be challenged to write in a completely different style from my usual way.
    I hope your readers enjoy my walk down the happy path of my culture.
    Magnolia Ripkin recently posted…Guest Post at Abandoning PretenseMy Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2014 at 8:16 am

      Are you kidding me? This piece was absolutely amazing and thank you so much for it. The readers definitely enjoy it- just look at the comments.

      • Reply Magnolia Ripkin September 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

        Thanks dollface. I just want to come to your house with a casserole full of red cabbage and have dinner with your family.
        Magnolia Ripkin recently posted…Food is EvilMy Profile

  • Reply Shannon (Martinis&Motherhood) September 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Magnolia, this is a beautifully written piece that captures the tastes, smells and emotions of your upbringing and current life as a first generation German Canadian. I really enjoyed reading about how your culture has journeyed with you through the years.
    Shannon (Martinis&Motherhood) recently posted…Mr. Miller’s Birthday Video (feat. Katy Perry’s Birthday)My Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

      Hi Shannon, it’s such a great post, isn’t it? It was so interesting to read. And I love how you went from first rejection of the culture to acceptance.

  • Reply julie nowell September 1, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    LOVE ! You just described Chrismtas Eve at our home!
    julie nowell recently posted…Once Upon a Time We Had An Adventure #streamteamMy Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

      Julie, it sounds like very fun Christmas!

    • Reply Magnolia Ripkin September 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      I think – personally – that Germans own Christmas.
      Magnolia Ripkin recently posted…Food is EvilMy Profile

      • Reply Olga Mecking September 8, 2014 at 8:40 am

        NO they don’t. I know they started the Weihnachtsbaum tradition and the Adventscalender tradition etc.. but you need to try some decent Polish food to understand Christmas. No really. PS did you konw that the duck that is served in Germany for Christmas is Polish? Yep.

  • Reply Lynn @NomadMomDiary September 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I love this piece, it made me think about how my kids are going to see the world in a few years. Will they be proud of the tiramisu and poptarts that make up their Italian and American parents dreams or will they wish endlessly for treacle pudding and a hot bowl of chips? I can’t wait to find out.
    Lynn @NomadMomDiary recently posted…You Can’t Pick Your Friend’s NoseMy Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Hi Lynn, they’re probably going to be a mixture of everything.Although I believe that they WILL be proud of tiramisu because how can you not be proud of tiramisu, it’s amazing. They will be everything mixed up together, tiramisu with fries and treacle pudding and chips and mac&cheese, all together. Don’t worry though, it will be delicious.

    • Reply Magnolia Ripkin September 4, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Pop tarts – my guilty pleasure. My Oma would be horrified.
      Magnolia Ripkin recently posted…Food is EvilMy Profile

      • Reply Olga Mecking September 8, 2014 at 8:42 am

        Have never tried pop tarts. I’m sure I’d love them though. I’ve seen pictures and they’re really cute.

  • Reply Lisa of Canadian Expat Mom September 1, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Magnolia you’re making me hungry. As a Ukrainian Canadian living in France, I miss the foods that I grew up on. Cultural comfort food is a wonderful thing!!
    Lisa of Canadian Expat Mom recently posted…Why We Need To Love TeachersMy Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Hungry? oh definitely this post is making me hungry too. Oh cultural comfort food. Yum. And the cool thing is if you’ve been living abroad, you get more comfort food to choose from! Awesome.

    • Reply Magnolia Ripkin September 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      I am sure this would offend your Ukrainian sensibilities Lisa, but we love dessert peroghies filled with fruit, fried in butter and drizzled with maple syrup and powdered sugar. Ya I know… cultural nincompoop.
      Magnolia Ripkin recently posted…Food is EvilMy Profile

      • Reply Olga Mecking September 8, 2014 at 8:44 am

        I love pierogi!Actually, in Poland we eat pierogi with fruit, and they’re also fried in butter but we drizzle them with cream not maple syrop. That being said, I tried pierogi with Cheddar cheese and potatoes (a variation of Polish so called Russetan pierogi with curd cheese and potatoes), and I was very shocked at the beginning, but loved them after that. And besides, you can fill them with anything you want.

  • Reply Jill @RIPPEDJEANSANDBIFOCALS September 1, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Food and our senses trigger such powerful memories and emotional responses, don’t they? I lived in Germany for four years and seeing those cookies and reading the description of the German foods brought back some very nice memories.
    Jill @RIPPEDJEANSANDBIFOCALS recently posted…4 mommy moves I said I’d never makeMy Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Hi Jill, welcome to my blog! Germany is wonderful!The cookies (Pfefferkuchen) are indeed delicious and so is a lot of German food. Thank you so much for your comments.

    • Reply Magnolia Ripkin September 4, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      I am glad I could negatively impact your metabolism for the day Jill. Because you know that just thinking about German potato salad makes the fat cells gather.
      Magnolia Ripkin recently posted…Food is EvilMy Profile

      • Reply Olga Mecking September 8, 2014 at 8:45 am

        Oh yes German potato salad… lovely but too much! I used to make some kind of light version of it but it was definitely cheating! And the Dutch share the German love of salad that is called, for example “egg” salad, “chicken” salad, “curry” salad or “potato” salad, but it’s lie because the main ingredient… is mayonaise anyway.

  • Reply Angie September 3, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    What a fantastic post. So well written. I really hope that my son will have an idea of what Canada is. There is much less history and culture that I an give to him. I try to instill Canadian values like recycling and left wing politics!
    Angie recently posted…The New “U” Silhouette – get updated for FALL 2014!My Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Hi Angie, welcome! Thank you for commenting. I lived in Canada for 4 months and loved it. The people were so friendly and I loved my job too, eh?

    • Reply Magnolia Ripkin September 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Angie, I don’t know where you live, but we can mail timbits if you like. A kid needs timbits.
      Magnolia Ripkin recently posted…Food is EvilMy Profile

      • Reply Olga Mecking September 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

        What are timbits? Oh wait I googled it. They’re like doughnut holes. Having now acquired this necessary piece of knowledge, I now agree that a kid needs timbits.

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