The Many Faces of Homesickness

When I left Germany in 1999 and moved into the middle of the Silicone Valley in California I was immensely homesick. Never in my life had I felt so alone before. My  phone bill was at one point larger than my grocery bill, because I had not understood, that one needed to call the phone company to get a better rate.

Things have changed a lot since then and I feel very much at home now here, where I always meet people I know, when I leave the house. One thing though will never change and it was quite unexpected, when I left Germany: I yearn for German food. Luckily there are many Germans here, which results in quite a few stores, bakeries and Delis that cater to these cravings. But still…

I had no idea how much food is tied to emotions and memories. It should not have been so surprising, considering that every get-together is usually centred around food.

I still remember when my husband cooked white asparagus with sauce Hollandaise for all our guests on my birthday. I remember the awe inspiring large number of cakes that everybody had brought to celebrate my Grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.

My mistake was, that I thought, I could replace that special white Bratwurst with Sushi, or Pretzels with Bagels. But no…

One of the many things, that are so special to me is a Plum Preserve, that my Grandma made every year. She calls it “Lattwerk” a term that I have not heard outside her family. It has very little sugar, some spices and needs to cook for 6 to 8 hours and must never be stirred during that time. Every year I would ask my Grandma for a few glasses of it. One year I noticed, that she had not been able to close some of the jars properly and I knew then, she was getting old.

I have made it every year since and it is such a cozy feeling when the smells waft through the house. And guess what, it is my daughter P.’s favourite!

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One thought on “The Many Faces of Homesickness

  1. missharleyquinn says:

    If only you lived near me, I have four plum trees that have overwhelmed me with their bounty, I would gladly give you bushels of the lovelies. I have so many jars of differnet canned plum products I may never run out. 🙂 Any chance you might post the recipe for your grandmother’s Lattwerk? My husband’s grandfather was German and instilled a great love of German food in my husband and the Lattwerk would be such a treat for him when he comes home for a visit.

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