Sunday, September 20, 2009

Austria - Black Forest Inn

Last December I took John and Julia to the production of Sound of Music. They loved it, especially Julia. I bought her the sound track and the movie and she learned how to play “My Favorite Things” and “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” on the piano. My favorite song from the Sound of Music was “Edelweiss.” At the end of the story, at the talent show before they escaped German occupied Austria, the Captain sings “Edelweiss.” The song is about Austria’s national flower. It symbolized loyalty of Austria . The words are beautiful and sad.

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and White, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.

Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever.

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever.

For our Austrian dinner we decided to go to a restaurant called “Black Forest Inn”. It’s located in Hamilton, about 30 minutes away, and when we got there the place was busy – not just with people, but busy with decorative things everywhere, including coo-coo clocks and oil paintings of landscapes on the walls. There was flowered wallpaper and flowers painted on the booths and doors, wooden chairs with heart shapes cut out of the backs, and figurines on shelves. The restaurant was casual and filled with families; the patrons were an odd mix of older grandparent-types and young people with tattoos
“It’ll be a 45 minute wait,” the hostess told us.
Kevin and the kids went back to the car to watch a movie while I stayed at the restaurant with my cell phone in hand to call them when our table was ready. I didn’t mind the wait. I was glad to sit and relax. John and I had played tennis right before we ventured out to dinner. I reflected on how competitive I get when I play him. He quite often beats me, which is pathetic, really. I have years more experience playing the game. I even had tennis lessons when I was a kid, for God’s sake, and he hasn’t had one formal lesson. He’s naturally athletic and I’m not – that’s what it boils down to. Still, when we play it’s war – at least in my mind. I curse like a sailor and I mumble things under my breath that no mother should mumble about her child. Hell if I’m going to let this little sucker beat me! I’ll say to myself. Then WHAM – I’ll miss another shot.
Rght now, John and I are basically at the same skill level. Our games are very much neck and neck. Many times our games go like this: Duce. Mom’s advantage. Duce. John’s advantage. Duce. Mom’s advantage and it will go back and forth like this in what seems an eternity. I’ll be exhausted and want the damn game to end – but the hell if I’m going to let him win. So I fight, struggle and sweat, even if it means prolonging the game for God knows how long. And the whole time we’re playing I’m thinking next summer or the summer after he’s going to kick my ass at this game. I’m going to be humiliated! It’s only enviable, and he’ll no longer say, “Hey mom, let’s go play some tennis.”

It wasn’t until eight o’clock when we finally sat down to eat. A waitress dressed in a German/Austrian costume of a blue dress with a white apron, her hair haphazardly pulled back behind her head, gave us a friendly, if not, tired hello. She handed us each a menu and I told her that we wanted strictly Austrian food. Her expression didn’t change when I said this making me wonder if she got that a lot, or she was thinking, duh!
John ordered Rindsrouladen (Beef Rolls). Tender beef stuffed with bacon, carrots, onions and pickles, braised in a brown sauce served with potatoes and red cabbage and soup. Julia and I each got the Vienna Schnitzel ( Julia kept calling it shit-zel) except she got a side of bread dumpling with mushroom gravy and I got, what looked like pasta, with mushroom gravy. Kevin got the Vienna sausage with sauerkraut and potatoes. For all of us, our favorite part of the meal was the soup – a meatball and dumpling soup, is what they called it, but it had one big meatball and a bunch of noodles. The food was all good but my stomach was suffering from the heavy, greasy food I’ve been eating – the Australian beer battered fish the night before and now the fried schnitzel and then that dough and gravy.
During our meal I told the kids some things about Austria. It’s a landlocked country in central Europe. Its terrain is very mountainous and 90 percent of the population speaks German – which is the country’s official language. Austria made a broad contribution to various forms of art, most notably music. For example, Austria is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
On the way home I felt tired from all that heavy food and the tennis game John and I played. It suddenly dawned on me that when I play tennis with John it’s not about beating him, it’s about keeping him, keeping him my little boy. When he beats me at games that only means he’s growing up and away from me. By me being a competitive player in tennis, it makes me still some-what cool. But later when I’m too easy to beat, then what?
I remembered when John was three and I checked on him while he was sleeping. He looked so cute and sweet and I broke down crying. I realized that my little three year old was not going to stay my little three year old for long. Some day I would no longer be the center of his world.
In the car, I turned around and said to the kids, “When we do the Philippines maybe we can eat balut!” John and Julia used to be captivated when I told them about the Filipino delicacy – a 24-day old duck embryo hard-boiled in the shell. John made a face and rolled his eyes. “Eating balut is stupid,” he said.
I turned back around and sighed. Maybe so, I thought, But you didn’t used to think so!
I tried to remember the words of the song Edelweiss.

Edelweis, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me.
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.

Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever.

I couldn't help but get a little teary eyed.

1 comment:

  1. Austrian food is a little heavy with all of the meat and gravy, but it is good eating...