Contemplate German food. It’s a sea of brown and white characterized by meat and potatoes, sausage and bread, and cabbage that’s been fermented until all the color has drained away.
German cooking is often described with the rustic adjectives herzhaft and deftig, or “hearty” and “hefty.” It’s thought of as comfort food, not fine dining. But in the last few years, at least as far as the haute cuisine kingmakers at the Michelin Guide are concerned, Germany has bucked this stereotype to become an anointed powerhouse of European gourmet cuisine. With the 2013 “Michelin Guide,” unveiled at a ceremony last week in Berlin, the number of two-star restaurants in Germany has doubled in the last two years, from 18 to 36.
German chef Kevin Fehling also received his third Michelin star to become Germany’s 10th chef with the world’s top culinary designation, awarded for his work at La Belle Epoque, located at the Columbia Hotel in the northern city of Lübeck. Germany now has more three-star restaurants than any European country after France. German chefs are “breathing down their neck,” said the worldwide director of the Michelin Guide Michael Ellis last Wednesday at the release. There are now a total of 311 Michelin stars between 255 German restaurants.
After initially denying revelations made this April on SVTSveriges Television, Ikea on Friday admitted that prisoners had been used to make its products in East Germany.
“We deeply regret that this could happen,” said sustainability manager Jeanette Skjelmose in a statement.
Auditors Ernst and Young combed through tens of thousands of documents from the Ikea and German federal archives to produce the report, which Ikea presented at the Stasi victim association UOKG headquarters in Berlin.
Although steps were apparently taken to ensure prisoners were not used, the company did not “have the well-organised control system we have today and clearly did not do enough to prevent this type of production method,” Skjelmose added.
There were managers in the company at the time who knew there was a chance it was happening, the report revealed.
Since the investigation began in May, around 90 people have been interviewed – including prisoners who made the furniture. Both former and current staff were asked to fill out questionnaires and a hotline was made available for those with information.
Before being brought up on SVT, a German television documentary aired on WDR in July 2011 first accused Ikea of using prisoners. The company said in May that they had looked into it, and the accusations were false.
During the 1970s, Ikea developed a strong manufacturing presence in the GDR (German Democratic Republic), establishing operations in 65 locations across the country to produce parts and furniture.
Just call it a Hooters shooter.
A German liquor company called G-Spirits is promising customers that “every drop” of its line of alcoholic beverages has been poured on the naked breasts of a certified model — with her approval, of course.
The brand sells rum, whisky and vodka, necessary for making a truly dirty martini.
Want to get close to a Playmate of the Year?
The booze brand brags that its barrel-aged whisky has been thoroughly splashed on the ample bosom of Alexa Varga, Hungary’s 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year.
For 139 euros (around $180 plus shipping), says the firm, you will find “its unbelievably versatile flavors range from roasted almonds, dried fruit, and toffee, to honey, vanilla, baked apples and cinnamon. Its finish is harmonic, well-balanced, spicy and long-lasting.”
The company claims that the stock is limited to a mere 5000 bottles and comes with a certificate, including the original signature of the model and the bottle number, which proves that “every single drop” touched the model’s flesh.
For a somewhat thriftier option, ($165) customers can purchase the rum, which lacks the flavor characteristics of having touched a Playmate.
“After storing it in ex-bourbon casks for 10 years and 1 year in barrels of French oak, it was poured over Amina’s breasts, which lends it a unique erotic character,” according to the company website.
All bottles come with nude photos of the models in mid-dousing, of course.
The company swears that its product is legit and that it is a stickler for health standards.
“We pay high attention to a hygienic filling process; furthermore, medical personnel are present to check it,” the company’s two founders insist in the site’s Q and A.
I think it’s dumb, but funny. Like I said, no doubt some rich nerds will buy it.
A Roman Catholic priest dropped dead at the altar before a couple exchanged their vows in Germany over the weekend.
Grzegorz Wieczorek, 47, collapsed while he delivered a prayer at the St. Lambert church in Bavaria on Saturday, the Munich-based Merkur newspaper reported.
Wieczorek hit his head on the stone floor in front of the shocked couple and their nearly 100 guests.
“It was like something out of a movie,” organist Andrea Wittmann told The Local newspaper.
The Polish priest is believed to have suffered a heart attack, the Merkur reported.
Many of the guests had travelled great distances to be there, so the bride and groom — from Germany and Italy, respectively — decided to continue the ceremony several hours later with another priest at a different church.
Ah, well that’s good.
The German government expects further violence in the Muslim world following Friday prayers and will close its embassies in the region as a precaution. Personnel have been instructed to stay home and security may be increased in some places, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said on Thursday.
Excellent. Let’s see not only France and Germany, but the whole West do so…
Jewish and Muslim organisations have staged a joint protest in the German capital Berlin over a regional court’s ruling that the circumcision of young boys constituted bodily harm.
The protest was prompted by the news that a rabbi in Bavaria was being investigated over the practice.
The ruling on circumcision was handed down by a court in Cologne in June.
However, the German government has since announced it will legislate to explicitly legalise the practice.
About a thousand people joined the protest to hear speeches from the chief rabbi of Berlin and other religious leaders.
“I’m here to stand for the freedom of religious rights,” protester Fereshta Ludin told the BBC.
The court in Cologne had declared that the ritual circumcision of a Muslim boy, in accordance with his parents’ faith, had caused the child bodily harm.
The German Medical Association then told doctors across the country to stop performing the procedure.
Both Jews and Muslims feel that, whatever the court intended, the ruling will be used as a way of attacking their religions, the BBC’s Stephen Evans in Berlin reports.
A kangaroo is on the lam in Germany after breaking out of a wildlife park, with a fox and a wild boar his suspected accomplices.
Michael Hoffmann, assistant head of the Hochwildschutzpark Hunsrueck west of Frankfurt, said Monday the male kangaroo was one of three that escaped overnight Saturday with the inadvertent help of the menagerie that lives in the area woods.
Hoffmann says the kangaroos got out of their enclosure after a young fox snuck into the park and dug a hole next to the cage’s fencing. Two of the three were then able to get out of the park entirely through another hole dug by a wild boar under the exterior fence.
Hoffmann says “we’ve got two of them back; now we’re just looking for the third.”
Even today Germany, though religiously diverse and politically secular, defines itself and its mission through the writings and actions of the 16th century reformer, who left a succinct definition of Lutheran society in his treatise “The Freedom of a Christian,” which he summarized in two sentences: “A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none, and a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all.”
Consider Luther’s view on charity and the poor. He made the care of the poor an organized, civic obligation by proposing that a common chest be put in every German town; rather than skimp along with the traditional practice of almsgiving to the needy and deserving native poor, Luther proposed that they receive grants, or loans, from the chest. Each recipient would pledge to repay the borrowed amount after a timely recovery and return to self-sufficiency, thereby taking responsibility for both his neighbors and himself. This was love of one’s neighbor through shared civic responsibility, what the Lutherans still call “faith begetting charity.”
How little has changed in 500 years. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, a born-and-baptized daughter of an East German Lutheran pastor, clearly believes the age-old moral virtues and remedies are the best medicine for the euro crisis. She has no desire to press a secular ideology, let alone an institutional religious faith, on her country, but her politics draws unmistakably from an austere and self-sacrificing, yet charitable and fair, Protestantism.
More than two decades after its political reunification, Germany continues to be divided along religious lines. Christianity still holds a fair amount of sway in the West. Not so much in the East, where two thirds of the population – young and old – are declared atheists.
Hundreds of youngsters took part in a quirky style competition in Berlin on Saturday in which they competed to hurl pairs of horn-rimmed spectacles the furthest and to design the best vintage moustache.
“The Hipster Olympics” – held in Berlin for the second time – both celebrate and mock a trendy subculture that has developed in Germany’s capital, along with other cities such as London or New York, as a counterweight to gentrification.
In one contest, brightly clad teams of three to five tried their luck at tug-of-war, substituting skinny jeans for a rope, while another offbeat task entailed bobbing for bubble tea pearls.
Athletic disciplines tapped into current fads, with one contest forcing youngsters to race across a course on top of crates of a popular carbonated drink.
According to Daniel Zoll, a 28-year-old radio station employee whose team won points for being the fastest racers in canvas bag sacks, hipsters are identifiable by their affinity for consumerism and fashion.
“But a true hipster is someone who doesn’t admit that he’s a hipster,” Zoll quipped, as he adjusted a red headband.
Oh, shut up already…
Spaces in a new car park in the Black Forest town of Triberg now come with male and female symbols. The spaces for women are wider and well lit, while those for men are close to concrete pillars and can only be reversed into.
Explaining the policy, Mayor Gallus Strobel said it was a natural decision because men are better at parking than women.
“In the new car park we found that two place were not rectangular, at an angle to the road and placed between walls and pillars; that makes parking difficult so we decided to allocate them to men,” the 58 year-old mayor told Germany’s Spiegel magazine.
But, he added, that there were great women drivers, and all women were welcome to try and park in the men-only spaces. Mr Strobel, who denies accusations of sexism, also pointed out that 10 spaces were reserved for women as opposed to just two for men.
In an attempt to deflect any charges of sexism Mr Strobel also indicated that the whole affair may be a marketing ploy aimed at drumming up business for the small town of 5,000, more famed for its waterfalls and natural beauty than being a bastion of male chauvinism.
“I never expected this reaction,” he said. “I’ve been on the phone all day, the TV will come. I am happy, and it looks like we’ve hit a raw nerve in society. It’s been a great marketing gimmick.
“Women can come here and prove me wrong, and while they’re at it they can see the town’s attractions,” he added.
Attaboy! Who says Germans lack a sense of humour?
European Jewish and Muslim groups have joined forces to defend circumcision for young boys on religious grounds after a German regional court ruled it amounted to bodily harm.
A joint statement says the practice is fundamental to their faiths and calls for it to be awarded legal protection.
The ruling by the Cologne court – also criticised by the Israeli parliament – does not apply to the whole of Germany.
But Germany’s Medical Association told doctors not to perform circumcisions.
Liberal democracy will always eventually choke on its own internal contradictions; in this case freedom of religion bumps up against popular prejudice against a practice increasingly held to violate the human rights of those to whom it is done; minority cultural values bump up against those of the majority. So it goes…
The crematorium employee in the western German town of Hamelin took a last look at the coffin before pushing it inside the furnace. This was the third coffin he had processed on the morning of January 13, and the body itself weighed over 200 kilograms (440 pounds). Of that, only two kilograms of ashes were supposed to remain after cremation. But, 15 minutes later, flames shot out of the crematorium’s 10-meter-high (33-foot-high) stainless-steel chimney, and parts of it began to melt.
Unable to bring the fire under control, the employee called the fire department. Firemen determined that the smoking chimney was glowing at 600 degrees Celsius (1,100 degrees Fahrenheit). They cooled it from the side and used an infrared camera to track the spread of heat through the building. It took four hours to reduce the body in the furnace to ash.