Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday was the first day of school in Erlangen.

It is a big day for first-graders. The parents and grandparents give the child a paper cone or Schultüte filled with treats, toys and school supplies.

At school, the second-graders sing songs for the first-graders.

After school (which ends at 11:20 all week). first-graders have first-day-of-school parties.

Vicki was invited to such a party for one of her younger son's friends. The invitation promised coffee and cake.

The adults sat in the beautifully-designed kitchen, drinking strong coffee and eating home-made chocolate cake and cheese cake. The cakes were dense and filling, and less sweet than their American counterparts.

Upstairs, the kinder - all boys - yelled and raised hell.

Downstairs, the adults' conversation flew - in German. Although the maternal grandfather was from Hamburg, I didn't learn much from him (he died when I was a toddler. Cancer of course).

Occasionally I picked something up, or they spoke English to me. Here, "bio" means organic. Apparently very little pesticides are used, and most things are "bio." There's also far less packaging in general (not to mention less consumption and waste and fear-mongering than in the US).

Only after three hours did the topic of my profession come up - and it was prompted by me.

It was refreshing, not being judged by how one earns a living.

Near the end of the afternoon, the hosts brought out the salty snacks; pomme bears (bear-shaped potato chips) and crisp olive pretzel-crackers.

We washed them down with a wonderful lychee soda made by Bionde.

It was tart - and bio, too.

* * *

Read about Vicki's younger son's Schultüte here.

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