There are definitely foods we miss from Seattle, but we have found a few new treats. Here are some of our favorites
Zwetschen: These are delicious little plums that are in season right now, which means there are lots of them. We've already been through a 1.5 kilo pack and just bought more yesterday. They also are a common cake topping (while they are in season). We've only had the cake once this year (in Düsseldorf at the end of July), and hopefully we'll be having some more soon. In Düsseldorf, Stefan bemoaned having plum cake, but only because it meant that the summer was coming to an end.
Basil: One of our favorite herbs, but whenever we bought it in Seattle, there was always the question of how to store it. Germans bypass this question by simply selling the basil as a potted plant. I'm sure this is something we could have done in Seattle, but never hunted one down. On the other hand, here it seems it is the only way to buy fresh basil.
Soup Veggies: Chris had a delicious mushroom and leek gnocchi when we were in Kassel that we recently tried to recreate. Finding leeks wasn't hard, but we could only find them prepackaged in packs of three, and three gigantic leeks in our tiny refrigerator was not really going to work. However, a very common produce item in the supermarkets is a bundle of soup veggies - a leek, a few carrots, some celery root, parsley and italian parsley, all tied together for under a Euro. Quite a handy little collection, and I must say it makes a lot of sense (how many times have I bought a bundle of celery when I really needed one or two stalks). We can't wait to actually start the soup making with it.
Asparagus: Germans are crazy for asparagus. In one small bookstore in the Aachen train station, there were no less than 5 cookbooks solely for asparagus. The variety is amazing and earlier this summer we tried some gigantic white spears (about as big around as a quarter). However, we've kept it simple when cooking them, not wrapping them in procuittio and placing them in our cocktails.
Chocolate: For years I didn't think I really liked chocolate that much, but that was before I realized it's really milk chocolate I don't like. Germans have no shortage of dark chocolate, and I think it's considered less a sweet here than a household staple. We've had fun trying all the halb-bitter varieties and even some with chocolate nibs (if you haven't tried those and you live in the Seattle area, I suggest you go to Theo Chocolate for a tour). The number of dark chocolate cookies here is also amazing. And we can't forget the German idea of chocolate cereal - Cocoa Puffs has nothing on chocolate muesli that is loaded with dark chocolate shavings. Hardly breakfast food (unless you're under the age of 12)!
Muesli: You can find corn flakes and if you're lucky, a few very expensive boxes of Kellogg's cereal in the grocery store. More common is muesli with dried berries or fruit (or chocolate, as mentioned above). It has become our breakfast staple, mixed with yogurt and some fresh fruit. It's pretty tasty and doesn't require the funny German milk.
Beverages: Ok, so sometimes you don't feel like having a Kölsch. Lucky for you there are other beverages available. Our favorites so far are banana-peach juice (mixed with OJ) and Apfel Schorle, a mix of apple juice and bubbly water. Coca-Cola makes one version, Lift, that's popular here and I've always wondered why they never have tried to market it in the states. For a real treat, our favorite coffee joint Woyton (read café with free wi-fi) makes some delicious and large schorle varieties like mango, berry and blood orange.