Saturday – time for a lie-in. But as usual I was awake sometime around 6:30 thinking about the day ahead. During the week the whole family gets up shortly after 6:00 because both daughters need to be out of the house on the way to school at 7:00. They are able to lie in a little longer at weekends, but I am not. This all seems to have happened very quickly. When the kids were small they always woke me up too early. Then suddenly they stop waking me up, but I am awake anyway. Maybe I have just forgotten but I can’t remember a time when our sleep/wake cycles synchronised properly.
But all this doesn’t matter because I actually enjoy being awake first, and especially having to walk to the bakery to get fresh rolls and pretzels. Germany worships bread – and Germans are really good at making all sorts of it. The daily trip to the bakery is the norm because the bread is very natural and only stays fresh for, at most, a day. Of course you can get sliced, packaged, bread from the supermarket but this is really just for the emergency ration and strictly for toasting. The leading brand is actually called “Golden Toast”. I grew up in England in the 1970s and remember the Warburton’s sliced loaves we had. Full of chemicals, it stayed pleasantly squishy for days – weeks maybe. As a kid, I loved it. Toasted with marmalade for breakfast, or even better around the occasional chip butty. But I’m not a kid any more and prefer healthier stuff, which is why I am glad that we have lots of old-school bakers over here. There is a bakery on every corner.
We are lucky to have a small independent bakery about 10 minutes walk away. It opens at 6:30 and I am often one of the first there during the week. It smells great and gives me a chance to see what all my neighbours look like having just rolled out of bed. I often see the same people – mostly Mums and Dads who have realised they have no bread for the kids’ packed lunch. A freshly baked “Budda Brezel” (that’s how they say it here – a pretzel cut in half with butter) will delight any school-child when they open their snack-box during break. Anyway, it’s 6:30 and we all look knackered and still have the pillow-creases on our faces but we observe a code of silence. Should I meet any of my bakery acquaintances during the day, I will never say “Hi, you looked shit this morning” and they never say “Yeah, you did too.”
When I get back home, I open the paper bag so the smell of fresh bread wafts upstairs. The rest of the family are grateful that I schlepped over to the baker (not knowing that I really enjoy it). I don’t need a dog to get me out of the house, because I have a bakery. The bakery doesn’t poo on the pavement, doesn’t need feeding and smells a hell of a lot better.
I am trying not to eat so much bread these days, but I do treat myself at weekends to my favourite combination. A freshly baked “Kraftkornbrötchen” roll (a kind of wholegrain-on -steroids roll) with thinly sliced ham and/or Allgäuer Bergkäse (strong mountain cheese) with a strong black coffee. Very German, very nice.