Well, I’m now back in St. Louis. I’ve recovered from my jet lag (which wasn’t too bad this year!), unpacked, and started cleaning out the house in preparation for the move to California. Time to fill all of you in on my last few weeks in Lindau….and keep my writing muscle in shape. First story—playing dress up.

Bavaria is to Germany what Texas is to the United States. Both are large areas of the country, both believe they should be their own country (or did at one time), and both have their own traditions. In Bavarian, this regional pride is manifested in several ways, from eating weisswurst, pretzels and beer for breakfast to wearing traditional clothes (trachten in German) any time you want. In Lindau, I saw tourists exploring the city in dirndls. Riding the trains throughout Bavaria, I saw guys traveling to watch soccer games while wearing lederhosen.

Every year during the meeting, there is a Bavarian evening on Thursday night, complete with pretzels, beer, an oompa band and traditional dancing. A week before the meeting began, someone in the office thought it would be fun if all the ladies in the office dressed up in dirndls for this party.  The majority of us had never worn a dirndl so we all thought it would be a fun excuse to put on a fancy costume, kind of like a German Halloween. Soon, the guys in the office wanted to join the party too,  and almost everyone had agreed to dress up.

I went with some of my co-workers to a shop called the Dirndl Königin (The Dirndl Queen) where we could rent the clothes. It wasn’t really a store…it was a small apartment filled with dirndls and lederhosen in all sizes and all the accompanying accessories (knee high wool socks, hats for the guys, necklaces for the girls). The Dirndl Queen (the owner) was really sweet. She looked each one of us up and down, rifled through the racks of dresses, and pulled one out, saying “This is it. Go try it on.” And she was right! Then, she fussed over all of us, adjusting the aprons on our dirndls and the straps on the lederhosen and trying different necklaces. It was a lot of fun.

My dirndl was black with red embroidery and a red apron. It was the only one I tried on. We all went to the same place, but we all ended up with clothes that fit our personalities. Here’s a photo of us (the office) taken during the Bavarian evening. It was as fun as it looks!

The office in trachten. Photo by Christian Flemming

Now we look like we actually like each other! Photo by Christian Flemming

As a going away present, the office gave me this dirndl. Anybody know of a German festival? I’ve got the dress! The Council also purchased everyone else’s clothes and they will be the new official uniform for office during the Bavarian evening. That news was met with cheers and applause.

Surprise upon receiving my dirndl

On the way the Dirndl Königin, we drove through luscious, green farmland and rolling hills…one up-side to all the rain we had during June and July. After we left the shop, we went to a brewery in Simmerberg, a nearby town. The atmosphere was perfect and the food was great. We all ate like kings. It beats the Schlafly Tap Room in St. Louis!

Tonight, I’m cooking some traditional German food for Chris and Mike–potato pancakes with applesauce (kartoffelpuffer mit apfelmus). Gina made these for me when I visited her in Würzburg. They’re really simple, but they’re delicious. It’s the quintessential post-war food in Germany as the main ingredients are shredded potatoes, onion, egg, and flour. Some people in Germany won’t eat kartoffelpuffer due to their associations with that time in the country’s history. To me, it’s the perfect student food….cheap and filling!