Tag Archives: eating abroad

E is for Eating Cold War Style Behind the Iron Curtain #AtoZ Challenge

Coming at you all April long, my A to Z Blog Challenge theme is “Historical Treasure”

Image from The Winnipeg Jewish Review

Borscht Image from The Winnipeg Jewish Review

Who doesn’t like the occasional food blog? Living overseas, I’ve gotten to indulge in so many good eats that I ran a foodie series in February. Irene was the inspiration for one of those posts. We got to talking once, and I have no idea how it came up, but she told me her doctor said she had the bone density of a woman half her age. What was her secret? Nettles. She practically had to live on them for a while.

Remember in Forest Gump when they start talking about the many dishes you can make with shrimp? Well, nettles aren’t exactly the same, but when she talks of them it reminds me of that movie. There is nettle tea, nettle soup, nettle mash and so on. If you could make it with nettles, Irene and her mother did. If you’re interested, check out that food post here.

When opportunities came in post-war Germany to eat other foods, you can bet Irene hopped to. These everyday details of life behind the Iron Curtain populate her writing. How many times did her family members risk their lives for the simple things–like a big of bread? Irene’s story isn’t her own, it is the story of so many others. Here’s a slice of it from the summer of 1945, shortly after the war ended and Irene’s family discovered they would be in the Russian sector. [Edited for length]

Since we were so hungry, we said among ourselves, “Russia is closer. They can bring in supplies much faster than the Americans. The Russian zone will do all right.” We had been told for years that Russian farmers had fertile land and worked as hard as the German farmers….No one told us then that the Russians were starving. They were not able to feed themselves. They did not send us food, rather they took what little we had.

Stalin with Soviet Flag

Stalin with Soviet Flag

When Stalin heard that so many people in Germany wanted democracy instead of communism he said, “What, they don’t want to be communists?” He laughed, “We’ll starve them and they will come crawling to us!”

….There were some who had food enough, mainly the farmers and the Russians who came to govern us. The Russians assigned to our village stayed in a villa up in the woods. A large red star on their roof was lit by spotlights during the night. They had their own parties, drinking vodka in large amounts, and playing their music as loud as possible.

….One night, after curfew, Nadja and I slipped through the darkness up to the Russian villa. We were very hungry and thought this might be a place to get some food. We stayed int he shadows of a picket fence and some bushes where the searchlights would not fall on us. Our hunger was greater than our fear of what the consequences would be if we were caught.

Several soldiers were cooking in a large pot out in the open. We could smell the meat. “Borscht” Nadja whispered. When they dumped a lot of vegetables into the pot my stomach cramped with hunger.

….[Later] We heard the men fighting over one of the [abducted] women. It must have been another hour before we were sure the men were sound asleep.

“Now!” Nadja whispered as she climbed out of the bushes and over the fence into the garden. I followed. Slowly, quietly, we crept toward the house. The kettle outside still had some warm borscht in it.

We poured it into a pitcher we had brought, then crept into their kitchen. We took some pieces of commisbread. I saw a box I could carry and took it, not daring to risk the noise of opening it.

A man cursed and we knew a soldier was awake. We held our breath in fear…

[Excerpt from…My Years Hidden As a Boy by Irene Kucholick]

Perfect to end there since tomorrow is F is for Fear.

Till then…a shout out to some very diverse AtoZers:

Regina Martins integrates juxtaposed images under one letter theme.

Get in early on a co-written space opera AtoZ.

Fun to see JazzFeather’s D is for Dixieland because there is a Louis Armstrong tie in to Irene’s life later. (Video will be forthcoming.)


Kristin King is an NGO co-founder, author, publisher, mom, dog lover, reader, as well as a born and bred Kentuckian. She has a small bag of dried nettles in her tea tin, because Irene hand-picked that gift for her. Unfortunately, nettles is not her favorite flavor.


Posted by on April 6, 2016 in Food, Memoirs & History


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Koln Bretzel Surprise


My favorite place to go in Germany is Bakery, Everywhere. Walking down the street the scent of fresh-baked goods in the air entices me. Maybe I’m a bit of a carb addict. My husband thinks I can nose-navigate from inside the car to the local backerei. Here’s the thing, though. If you drive 15 minutes down the road, there will be something different on display. Yes, you’ll always find kaiser rolls, but you may find a delight you’ve never seen anywhere else in Europe.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 4.36.24 PMSuch was the day I drove into Koln (Cologne) with my cousin. We navigated straight into town for the towers of the Dom (cathedral) and parked underground central. We came up on a beautiful square outside the church, saw the grand interior, and came back out to order tea and people watch on the platz. Low and behold, there was a bakery with something I’d never seen elsewhere. Bretzels (pretzels) are fairly common across the country, but his one was glazed with icing, striped with chocolate and covered in toasted almonds.

Another little bit of baked perfection abroad.



Posted by on February 6, 2016 in Food, Travel


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Shepherd’s Pie Tall

IMG_0674Shepherd’s Pie can be ordered in any number of configurations across the United Kingdom. The first I tried was at the Eagle and Child in Oxford, a literary hang-out of the group known as the “Inklings” which included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

The formal meetings ended in October 1949 when interest in the readings finally petered out, but the meetings at the Eagle and Child continued, and it was at one of those meetings in June 1950 that C.S. Lewis distributed the proofs for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Traditionally topped with mashed potato

Traditionally topped with mashed potato

How could I not try this famous English fare at such a renown establishment? What I had there was akin to the image left. Also called “cottage pie,” the dish traditionally has a mashed potato top.

Tasty as that was in the Oxford pub atmosphere, I preferred the remake above with its tall, flaky crust. I highly recommend you stop in for a bite like this at the Howard Arms Pub the next time your travels take you to Hadrian’s Wall near Carlisle and Brampton. (Recommend the Roman Fort there at Birdoswald as well.)


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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Food, Travel


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Do Foodies Eat This? (February Foodie)

Grapes heavy on the vine near Pescara, Italy (lower calf of the boot).

Grapes heavy on the vine near Pescara, Italy (lower calf of the boot).

What is a foodie? Without googling it, I tend to think of someone who is a real connoisseur, loves cooking or eating and is also someone who can pick up on the spices and other ingredients used in recipes. Unfortunately, that’s not me. I’d rather someone else did the cooking, even if it’s my 8-year-old. I like to eat, of course, but tend to get stuck in ruts. And those elusive tastes that others describe with perfect clarity on ingredients remain beyond my tongue’s discrimination.

That said, enjoying the food is a huge part of traveling and living abroad. Also, February Foodie sounds so much better than any of the other titles I thought I’d give this month. You’re probably thinking, she doesn’t blog about food much, and you are totally correct. I do take photos of food as I travel and eat diverse dishes. What should I do with all those images?

Assign a theme to February and shoot them out to the world. That’s reasonable, right? What does it matter if the first food of the month was chocolate-covered bacon.

Remember, though, I’m one of those sorts that is easily distracted. So if you see something else popping up on the screen–like a story about my husband getting hit by a car on his bike–don’t be surprised.

Here’s to a February Foodie…(too bad I don’t live in Finland).


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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Food, Travel


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