Market Day in Beutelsbach

Today was the first chance I’ve had (since I found out it was happening) to visit the Wochenmarkt (weekly market) in the center of Beutelsbach. Last Thursday I had to stay home and wait for packages to be delivered. One disadvantage of working from home is that you feel free to order stuff by mail, since you know you’ll be home to receive the package — so of course the one day that the package looks like it will arrive, you have something else you need to do.

The market square is about a 5 minute walk from home, by way of two bakeries, a butcher, the local grocery store, the post office, and a drug store (which is different from an apothecary; the latter is where you go when you need drugs). The sun has been out all morning, and every one seemed un-Germanly chipper as I made my way. (Of course, it may be that I was the un-Germanly chipper one and was simply projecting my own high spirits on the people whose paths I crossed.)

The market itself is fairly small, but it seemed to have a bit of everything — cheese, fish, meat, poulty, wurst, bread, pastries, flowers, and even some produce. The produce, oddly, was from all over the place and included more variety than I’ve seen in the local grocery stores: kiwi, passionfruit, etc. These “exotic” imports took up about half the produce stand; the other half was more typically German staples: apples (many varieties), carrots, and potatoes.

I walked around for a few minutes, snapping pictures of various booths and angles, until the bread vendor called out something (in German) that seemed to mean “taking pictures is not allowed.” I walked over, and the man — who turned out to be very friendly — explained that he’d simply meant that the customers at his bread stand hadn’t wanted their photo taken. My German is still “sehr schlecht,” but at least I’ve gotten to the point where I can communicate moderately well with very patient people. Part of the problem is that I can’t help but slip into Spanish when I get stuck in German; I’m sure if I slipped into English instead, the Germans would have a much easier time understanding me. Then again, if that happened I’d probably be speaking English all the time — and that’d be boring. The bread seller even guessed that I was from Brazil, in think in part because of the Latinate language leeching out of me.

Next I stopped at the cheese stand (DUH) and asked, in halting, awkward German, which was the best cheese that day. The seller humored me and offered me three different tastes — each was deliciously different. Now I’m wishing I had taken a photo of the cheese at the stand; the one I brought home doesn’t have a label, and all I remember is that it began with the letter “M.” The cheese man described it as “kräftig,” which means something like “strong” or “powerful.” (I only managed to remember the meaning of that word after I’d left the stand, of course. Such is life in a foreign land…)

As an aside, what finally brought “kräftig” back into my brain was the election slogan for the CDU (a leading political party): “Wir haben die Kraft.” I had initially associated “Kraft” with the English word “craft” — and while I’m sure the two are related, M. told me that the German word means something more akin to “strength.” So, it’s a word that reference political fortitude and strong cheese — but all I can think of is “hand-crafted.”

More photos from today’s adventure can be found here: