Sunday, 15 December 2013


Sometimes you don't know what the hell you are doing.
You get caught up in a senseless routine. Everything seems horrible and pointless.
You don't know why you chose this, because in that moment it equals misery.
Sometimes you just need a win.

And that is what I got: I won.
I have an exciting history with winning: it is never the lotto or a car or money, but it is always an experience. Somehow I end up winning adventures.

The first three times these experiences took me to France (or rather, the French embassy did as part of the annual Francophonie celebrations) and every time I met the most wonderful people. We came from all over the world to share our passion for similar subjects(be it language, the arts or photography), and we bonded in those hot Paris/Perpignan summer weeks filled to the brim with lessons in Frenchness: in between language courses we ate baguettes and went on a cheese tasting, we climbed the Eiffel tower and the steps to Montmartre, and the one time we took the TGV down to Perpignan for the Visa pour l'Image photojournalism conference.

Through one another we learned about other worlds as well: practicing an Iranian dance on the Pont des Arts; eating a maple-shaped cookie whilst hearing about life in Canada; wondering about the strange habits of the girl from Azerbaijan or being taught by a young Serb how my camera works. We reveled in being a young, multicultural group on an all-expenses paid trip to France. The memories from those trips, and the new friends from all over the world will stay with me longer than winning an object in any case.

This time the win was again unexpected. I was skyping with my mother when an unknown number called on my cell. I thought it was the bank or some government agency wanting my non-existent money. Instead, it was a nice man from some company explaining that I had won a dinner for 10 people, cooked in my kitchen by a professional chef. It was part of a promotion by Telekom at various German universities and I had entered through Facebook.

Elisabeth Opel showed up loaded with fabulous food and I had invited some of the other students. It ended up being another fantastic experience. Somehow we managed to squeeze into our little kitchen and different teams worked on different dishes. As a starter we made a parsnip soup; the main course consisted of Spätzle with filet, an onion sauce and onion rings; and dessert was Kaiserschmarrn with apple compote. They had asked if I wanted a specific dish and since I haven't had a traditional German meal in a long time that is what I asked for.

Parsnip soup with croutons and duck breast. 
Spätzle with filet and onion rings. Although Spur's onion rings will always remain #1. 
My German grandmother used to make Spätzle as well with Rouladen and she'd fill our plates with a second enormous helping as soon as they were empty. I don't remember much about her, but her food was always delicious. Her dishes were traditional and time consuming and not really suited to the climate of SA. It must have been strange for her to come to such a hot country knowing only recipes that were suited to the cold - somehow rich and creamy does not work as well when it is 35° (except if it is a rich and creamy ice cream). Now my mom makes Spätzle on occasion as well as a special treat.

With the courses we consumed 6 bottles of white wine, 2 bottles of sparkling wine and 2 bottles of red wine so irrespective if you liked the food or not you would have had enough to drink to make up for any distaste.

Hello new friends.
So glad I now have an apron. 
I was a bit apprehensive at the beginning of the evening, because in Pretoria I would know exactly whom to invite and how to lay the table. I'd have had everything we needed in an enormous kitchen, and we could've eaten outside on the porch, enjoying the spring. Here, the kitchen is quite small and none of the utensils are mine (I have a knife). Also, I just invited the first 10 people that I saw during the course of that day, so it could have been quite a fail. Luckily everyone was really into the cooking-together thing and I hope that it may have sort of laid a good foundation for moving from being merely people who study together and are all new in this city to actual friendship.

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