On Thursday evening I went to my first Slow Food event. I've been meaning to join for years, with a renewed decision to do so when I moved here as a means to meet people but when I still hadn't gotten around to it by May this year I decided to wait until January. The annual membership fee is based on the calendar year so even if I joined now I would have to pay for the full year and then again in January and although it's not a huge amount of money it seemed silly not to wait. Then I found out that non-members can still attend some events and signed up to the harvest thanks one "the secret of shining bread" - an evening with wine, bread, cheese and olive oil. The baker who was the main speaker runs a bakery which is not too far from me called Hercules. It's not close enough to be an everyday bakery for me but from looking at the map it's only about half-an-hour's walk away, which is a nice distance to walk for some really great bread. Not so long it feels like a chore but long enough there and back to feel like I've earned an extra slice. So something to do next weekend perhaps.
One thing I found fantastic was that not only did they not try to sell us anything (it was held in a big wine depot, Lust4Wine and I really did expect to feel obliged to buy at least a couple of bottles of wine or something) they pulled out a load of paper bags when people started to leave and tried to get everyone to take as much bread away as they could carry. I found that very refreshing. I ate lots of bread and cheese, including a fabulous chilli cheese. When I asked where the cheese came from though the baker's wife said she had just bought it in from the organic wholesaler so I may need to do a bit more digging to find out where exactly it came from. I also had two slices of Zwiebelkuchen or onion cake, which is a fab seasonal favourite and in fact was the thing which persuaded me that onions might not be all that bad to eat (way back in 1994, the year I was here for a semester in college and still mostly only ate potatoes and meat and bread). It was the best one I've tasted for a long time.
When I first arrived it seemed like a lot of groups of people had arrived together and I felt like I'd end up sitting on my own, eating a bit and leaving again but once people sat down to eat the conversation flowed, not easily exactly but sufficiently well to be enjoyable. So I chatted a bit to those around me and of course, being foreign always make the first conversation a bit easier because it's answering all the 'where are you from, why did you come here' questions. And it was really nice to talk to people who are interested in Slow Food as well.
Then, yesterday morning I went to the organic community garden run by the local community college. I went during the summer to volunteer and found out they try now to just take volunteers on twice a year and do a proper introduction to the others who are members of the 'Arbeitskreis' or work circle and to the garden. In a way it's also to make sure that the people who show up really are interested before they start spending time explaining everything about what they do etc. So I had to wait for a few months but finally the day arrived. I'll be working there every Saturday from 10 until 13 and most weeks people bring something to eat, perhaps a cake or something, and after work is finished everyone gathers in the small house/big shed and has a cup of coffee and a bit to eat while discussing what's been happening in the garden, what needs to be done etc. I hope to learn a lot and think I am really going to enjoy working outside again for a few hours a week. They seem like a nice bunch of people. Next week is the annual plant exchange so there won't be much work in the garden itself but I'll go along to help set it up at least and have a wander. I'll try to remember to bring my camera and get some photos as well.
After that I met a friend to go for a walk in the woods which was great as well. Altogether I think I walked for about two and a half hours because I also got a tram that doesn't stop too close to home but instead of switching trams to one that does, I just walked the rest of the way as well. There were bunches of people out collecting chestnuts as well, whole families. It was great. Although somewhat dangerous sounding in the woods in general as you never seemed to know if the next wind was going to bring an acorn or something similar crashing down on your head. I'm loving the autumn here. Today it's a beautiful sunny day so although I've had a slow start and spent the morning watching Iron Man I'm going to hop in the shower now and then head out for the rest of the day.