Monday, June 7, 2010

kitsch (m) kitsch (Langenscheidt Taschenwörterbuch Englisch, 2009: p.1180)

The Langenscheidt German-English (or, since I bought it in Germany, “Englisch-Deutsch”) Dictionary translates the word kitsch as kitsch, the adjective kitschy as kitschig. This comes as no surprise. To someone with a knowledge of German even as cursory as mine, the “sch” phoneme is enough to suggest a Germanic etymology. Just to make sure, though, I consulted the dictionary. Indeed, language dictionaries have a reputation of giving at times creative or painfully literal, and sometimes just plain gauche or incorrect, translations. From personal research, I have discovered that the word has a subtly different meaning in German. In English, I would say that “kitsch” could be applied to some sort of stupid tradition or decidedly outdated aesthetic à la lumpy Christmas sweaters in bright colors with reindeer, and singing ties (worse yet, singing ties with lumpy Christmas sweaters). In German, I have been told that it is more akin to “gaudy” and “over-the-top” à la lumpy Christmas sweaters in bright colors with reindeer, battery-powered lights, and gold bells. Because old traditions (e.g. Christmas sweaters) have very particular aesthetic elements (e.g. reindeer and bells), kitsch is similar enough in both languages.

We begin here, with this definition, because it is comforting, and appropriate, that this word exist in German. I find that many students who study abroad (myself included) are initially taken by the novelty of everything. Heck, I still think the name for cellphone (“Handy”) is sort of cute, the wild red poppies that dot the yellow fields of unnamed plants on my way home are inspiringly painterly, and the mustard from a toothpaste tube is a genius idea that should definitely be adopted by the rest of the world. I have even ordered waldmeister ice-cream, a uniquely German flavor, multiple times even though I don’t care much for its somewhat medicinal taste. It’s silly, I know, but when everything is so new, daily life seems that much more poignant and colorful, and mundane occurrences seem more like fantasy.

But last weekend, I had an experience that, though enjoyable, made it incredibly difficult to continue to fabricate my naïve wondernment. I first noticed a sign for the Gonsenheimer-Erdbeerfest (Gonsenheim Strawberry Festival) my first week here. Indeed, living in Gonsenheim, it would be hard not to notice a sign for it. Large green posters could be seen on virtually every street corner and in every store window in the small suburb of Mainz. Most of my coworkers, however, had never heard of it or, if they had, had never been.

For two weeks, I revved myself up for my first real German summer festival. (I already have plans to go to the Bregenz and Salzburg Sommerfestpiele, and there is a big festival called Johannisfest in Mainz in a few weeks—I know that neither Bregenz nor Salzburg are in Germany, but I imagine these are festivals in the same tradition of Sommerfestpiele, just less fruity.) Furthermore, if previous posts were not evidence enough, I will be forthright about my soft spot for (and some soft spots because of) food. I imagined several people bustling between stalls, eating Erdbeerkuchen, drinking some alcoholic realization of strawberries (it is after all summer in Germany), and wearing strawberry hats in the same vein as Wisconsin cheese hats.

To give credit where it’s due, the strawberry hats were Ambika’s addition. Ambika is a friend who is studying in Freiburg for the entire year. She flew into Frankfurt from vacationing with her family in Sweden and spent some time with me here before returning to Freiburg. Last Sunday morning, Ambika and I thought it would be fun to go to the Erdbeerfest, so we began walking down one of Gonsenheim’s big streets, expecting small children dressed as strawberries, strawberry beer carts, and commemorative lederhosen. Would a strawberry-shaped hot air balloon be too much to ask for?

But the street was only marginally busier than usual, and only a few stalls were out. We kept walking and asked someone at one of the stalls where we should go to see more of the festival. (When we’re together, Ambika does most of the talking. Having already been here for 9 months, having taken German at the graduate level at the University of Iowa, and having a natural knack for learning languages, Ambika speaks impeccable German.) The “big part” (please take note of the very purposeful addition of quotation marks/inverted commas) of the festival was farther down the street a few blocks. We walked as directed and came to a park approximately half the size of a standard US block that had about 5 tents and a small stage surrounding a handful of tables that seemed all the fewer because they were mostly empty. Most of the stalls sold nothing strawberry-related (pottery, jewelry and one’s general flea-market goodies, certainly no commemorative T-shirts let alone lederhosen). The alcohol looked decidedly standard. Both being self-declared amateur gastrophiliacs, we were most excited for the Erdbeerkuchen. We tried it at two stalls. The first slice was unapologetically store-bought, with machine-perfect fluted edges on the exceptionally dry cake covered in a solid mass of still-frozen strawberries. The other slice, which looked more promising, was also unbearably dry and had a cream filling that tasted like it was made from cream that was about to go bad, but had lasted just long enough. I know that, in general, German cake is not as moist as cake in the US, but this cake was bad by international standards.

The stage featured a volunteer band and their very low-bowing director, playing music I would expect to hear from a German brass band. Somewhat disheartened, but having a wonderful time nonetheless, we went to a very German restaurant for a lunch of schnitzel (of course), Spargeln in Hollandaise sauce (it is both strawberry- and asparagus-season in Germany), and Salzkartoffeln (which, as the name suggests, is nothing more than boiled potatoes with salt). We were seated at the same table as a very nice, old German couple, with whom we (meaning mostly Ambika) chatted for a while. During our meal, the mayor of Gonsenheim came to eat in the restaurant with her large entourage. Everyone in the restaurant seemed to know each other, which gave the whole experience a very comfortable, easy feeling. Afterwards, we went to a busy bakery and polished off 2 slices of proper, delicious cake (one Erdbeerkuchen and the other some Frankfurt cream cake that Ambika wanted to try).

Walking back home we encountered what I could only reason was the mascot for the Erbeerfest (or the village idiot, but I think that the notion of a village idiot is one found only in cartoons), a strangely-dressed clown-like man who would dance little jigs and mime and point for no apparent other reason. We also were lucky enough to see the parade, the entirety of which passed in the time it took us to walk a block. There were no floats, just two marching bands, some cars that heralded the arrival of the Erdbeerkönigin and Erdbeerprinzessen, and a minivan with a very confused-looking family that I imagine was mistakenly included in this parade.

One of the Erdbeerprinzessen gave Ambika a white rose. Two blocks later, Ambika gave the rose to a group of old women. If you know Ambika, this comes as no surprise.

The word kitsch is very fitting; it was sort of a ridiculous festival and, it seemed, many of the locals thought so as well. But it was endearing in its own way (much like, yes, lumpy Christmas sweaters can be endearing). It bleached out some of the tint in the rose-colored glasses through which I had thus far seen Germany—even Germany can be sort of ridiculous and kitsch. After all, people, no matter where you are, have some similarities. Insofar as people are people, they are, almost unfailingy, without exception, at some points in time, a little bit kitsch.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Meine Fahrrad, Farhad

Three days ago, I bought a bicycle. On the campus of the Johannes Gutenberg Universität, there is a man with a very long beard who runs a trailer called Uni-bike. Uni-bike, as the name suggests, takes care of all student bike needs, including buying and selling used bikes.

The first day I went, he had a line of customers, and since after looking at the prices I realized that I didn’t even have enough money with me, I told him I would come back. But, this event warrants recalling because of the absolutely ridiculous encounter I had with two very old (and very senile) men. While I was standing by the bikes for sale, a small red Golf drove past, screeched to a halt, reversed, and haphazardly parked half in the street, half in a parking spot. A very old, very short, but very spritely white man and a significantly taller, hunched-over, thin, and equally as ancient Indian man got out of the car. (If I had less respect for the elderly, and if senility were not in my parents’ line of work, I might call them the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter, for, indeed, Lewis Carroll gives better descriptions of these men than I have.) I don’t really know why they stopped, and to be honest, I don’t think they did either. The short white man scurried over to the man who owns Uni-Bike and began, “Maestro, maestro, Sie sind…..” I’m not exactly sure how he finished, because the much slower-moving Indian man hobbled over to me by this time and asked (in English), “Where are you from?”

I replied, “I am from South Africa, but my family lives in the United States. My ancestors are from South India.”

“Oh, so you are from South Africa, not India?”

“Yes, but my ancestors are from India.”

By this time the man who owns Uni-Bike had managed to shake off the older man who so praised his skills, and our friend had scurried over to us.

“Sie kommen aus Sudafrika? Sie sind wie Gandhi! Gandhi wart im Sudafrika!” (“You come from South Africa? You are like Gandhi! Gandhi was in South Africa!”)

I’m not sure if my German transcription is entirely grammatically correct, but I am very certain that my translation is. After this, they went back to their car and drove off in a peculiarly nonlinear fashion. It is not every day that one is compared to the Mahatma, even if only for superficial reasons by senile old men. While I appreciate the comparison, I’m not sure that it is really warranted. One of the boys working at Uni-Bike under our Maestro shook his head, chuckling, and said, “They are just old.”

The next day, I went back and looked at the four men’s bikes that were for sale. I decided that, for a three month stint (even though I could return it before I left), I didn’t really want to spend much above €100. To me, this was a fair deal because a one-month bus pass, even at the student rate, is €56. Two months of riding the bus would pay for the bike. So I took the two that were under €100 for a test drive. The first was a racing bike which, while I liked how fast and easy-to-maneuver it was, just didn’t feel comfortable with a backpack (since one must sit hunched over). So for €80, I bought the other one, a street bike that permitted a better posture, and a bike lock.

Up until this point, I thought that the word for bike in German was “bike.” Uni-Bike used the word, and everyone in the lab knew what I meant when I said “bike,” even if we were speaking in German. But my receipt said “Fahrrad.” The past few days I had seen this word in quite a few places, but I never really gave it a second thought. I thought that it was the German spelling of the relatively common Muslim name “Farhad,” since there are quite a few Muslims who live in my area of Gonsenheim and in Mainz. (To be honest, in retrospect, I should have known better since I remember seeing some signs that would have meant “Farhads for sale.”) When I thought about it, I could vaguely remember Frau Dibley lecturing about a Fahrrad. Even though our Komm Mit textbooks tried to be very multicultural, I was certain that this word had greater significance than just a name. Of course, after consulting the dictionary, this is the word for bike. The sign on the door of my apartment that was searching for a lost Fahrrad suddenly made a whole lot more sense.

And thus, my bike came to be named Farhad, in honor, not only of my stupidity, but also of the many Muslims who live in my neighborhood. (I don’t usually name my bicycles, but this time it seemed appropriate.) In fact, the corner grocer, (which is, sickeningly, in fact on a corner,) Melissa’s Market, carries many goods that the regular stores do no carry, such as roasted chickpeas and other snackfoods, various halwas, and fig jam. The only bread that Melissa’s Market carries is flat. Of course, being the ever-adventurous eater, I bought fig jam and roasted chickpeas.

I will probably never buy either again. The chickpeas, which look good (and if you’ve ever had fried peas and peanuts from an Indian grocer, are good in principle,) actually just taste sort of chalky and remove all of the moisture from one’s mouth. They are, however, starting to grow on me. I will not buy fig jam again because it’s probably one of the most delicious jams I have ever eaten. I bought it on Wednesday, and of the 450 g that were initially in the jar, I would guess that perhaps 100-150 g remain. I somehow can’t imagine that consumption of jam at this rate is good. Although, in my defense, there were entire preserved figs in it, so when I came across one, I couldn’t help but fish it out and eat it whole. I mean, it hardly fits on a cracker or a piece of bread. I think I pulled the last one out tonight, which accounts for much of the volume of the jar. I also bought a jar of Nutella, some oranges, and TUC biscuits (which are actually crackers that bring back very fond childhood memories).

But, I digress (although I think a digression into food is never a bad one). Thus far, Farhad and I have had several adventures. The 10-minute bike ride from the university to Gonsenheim (the suburb of Mainz where my home is) took me 30 minutes the first day I tried to ride it. Mainz is a very bike-friendly city, and you can get basically anywhere in the city by bike. But the way home runs along a very busy street (Koblenzerstraße, which becomes Weserstraße in Gonsenheim). Thus, for a stretch of it, the bike path is not right next to the street. The first day, I followed some students who looked like they were going in the same direction but, unfortunately, they lived much closer than I had thought. In fact, they lived just across the street from the university. (Why they rode their bicycles escapes me.) So, I rode in circles in the parking lot of their apartment building, which must have looked sort of strange and rather suspicious, trying to figure out what to do. Thankfully, after my 10th time around, I saw a man and his son emerge seemingly out of nowhere at the edge of parking lot. I rode over to that corner, and there was my path. I rode most of the way home along this street, but just inside Gonsenheim, there is a 5-way intersection which, if you count the extra bike path, is a 6-way intersection for a cyclist. Following the sign pointing at the new bike path, and the woman who seemed to know where she was going (I really need to stop following people), I ended up riding for another 5-10 minutes through a few small fields and between people’s vegetable gardens. I kept riding, even though I sort of knew that I was going in the wrong direction. Finally, the bike path turned a little less pastoral and came to a stop in front of a church. I stopped, pulled out my ridiculously large map of Mainz, and spent 10 minutes trying to find myself. Once I did, I realized that I was only about 2 blocks off course, and I was home within a few minutes.

Friday I took the bus to work because after work I had to take my computer to the Apple store and I wasn’t quite sure that Farhad and I were ready to brave downtown Mainz. Friday was the first nice day since I got here (and, according to my coworkers, in the last 3 weeks), and yesterday morning followed suit. So, we went for a ride around Gonsenheim, which I hadn’t really seen yet. I also needed to replenish my food supply since I had almost gone through the quarter-loaf of bread and meat and cheese I had bought on Tuesday, and all the grocery stores are closed on Sunday and this Monday due to the public holiday Pfingsten. I did find a grocery store, but then proceeded to get lost for an hour. It being a very nice Saturday morning meant that this was not really a problem except that, to make room for my groceries in my backpack, I took everything—including my map of Mainz—out of my backpack. Luckily I managed to find a bus stop I knew and then follow the bus route home.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to head to the university to use the internet. 5 minutes into my ride, the beautiful, clear skies turned sinister, and in about 30 seconds went from pouring down sunshine to torrents of rain. When I got the library, I was so wet that I removed my jacket and wrung out at least 2 cups of water. Shivering, I sat down at a computer and began my business, hoping that the rain would let up, but knowing that as soon as I tried to leave it would begin again. About an hour later, it did let up, and much to my surprise, did not restart on cue when I left the building—the sky was as blue and sunny as ever. When I got home, I removed my still-wet clothing, and found a long stripe of sandy filth on my jacket and pants from the wet dirt that my back tyre had kicked up. I’m glad Farhad and I are getting to know each other, but I really look forward very much to the first time we go somewhere and the trip is entirely uneventful.

Making Do with Modest Deutsch

Switching between languages, especially when one of them is a language I can barely speak, is probably one of the most taxing things I have ever done. After a few afternoons of shopping for essentials and paying bills, I come home and don’t want to do anything but sit. And I don’t think my feeblemindedness is the whole cause. Of course, I have only myself to blame, and I can’t say that I don’t appreciate how fast I am improving. Everyone in the lab speaks English, if not for my sake then for the sake of the Pakistani, the Indian, and the 3 Iranians in Arbeitskreis Tremel (literally: the working circle of Prof. Tremel). Recently, I have been asking people to speak to me in German so that I can learn faster, and for the most part they kindly oblige. My first two days, when I was sent to town to sort myself out, most of the people I encountered when asking for directions or trying to find things in stores spoke no English, or were under the impression that their English was worse than my German so would refuse to speak it. (And, indeed, I should be prepared for that. How can I come to someone else’s country and expect them to accommodate my language?)

When I first boarded a bus and tried to pay my fare, I thought that all I needed to buy was a single ticket. Apparently, the price depends on how many stops you will be making, which the very angry bus driver tried to explain to me. This made little difference, because as she got more frustrated she only spoke faster, and it was even more difficult to understand her. I had to be rescued by a kind man who spoke English and managed to calm her down. If my translation is correct (and it most likely is not) he actually had to say something to the effect of “don’t get so upset, he’s just learning German.”

In Galeria Kaufhof, which I take to be a German equivalent to JC Penney’s (discount candy and all), I was served by an exceptionally nice woman who also spoke no English. Not knowing the words for sheets, pillow, pillow cover, the size of my bed, or really any of he things I needed, we managed to find everything through much miming, pointing, and broken German. The one thing that I couldn’t seem to get across was that I just wanted the cheapest of everything since I’m only going to be here for 3 months. She seemed more concerned with the colors matching. Still, we managed to do our business expediently, and she was very happy at the end of our little ordeal since she had learned the words “pillow” and “expensive” from me, and I had learned the words “Kissen” (pillow) and “Decker” (duvet) from her.

When I tried to buy a SIM card for the cellphone that Shandhini had used when she studied abroad in Scotland, the woman at Vodafone also spoke only German. She was very patient with me, although she was sort of taken aback at the age of my vintage “Handy” (cellphone). At first, we were afraid it no longer worked, but a few minutes of charging showed us that we were indeed wrong. At that point, I didn’t even know the word for passport (Reisepass), so I imagine that I made her job very difficult. Still, she was nice enough to let me leave my phone charging while I finished my urgent shopping, and she even stayed a few minutes after her shift was done for me to come pick it up.

I cannot begin to say how kind people here have been, especially when putting up with my modest German skills. To engage in some shameless horn autotooting, people have been very complimentary. Most of my labmates who have spoken with me in German have told me that they were impressed with my accent. When I went to the bookstore to buy a book to learn German, the man asked me for whom I was buying the book. I said it was for myself, since it was only my second day in Germany and the last time I studied German was 7 years ago for only a year. He seemed quite surprised, and told me that I had a very good “Aussprache” (accent). I think most of the reason he said that was because the only books he had for English-speakers were for children, and he was trying to sell me one that was all in German because “your German is good enough that you can handle it.” Still, I’ll take what compliments I can get. The guy at the Apple store (where I had to go because my disk drive was defective from the factory) said that he couldn’t tell whether or not to speak to me in English until I asked him if he spoke English because my accent was better than most foreigners. And he spoke English with an almost unnervingly flawless American accent, so I guess I’ll take his flattery too.

I did not buy the book from the guy at the bookstore. All I bought was a little dictionary and the hope that I would pick up some grammar by ear (which came for free). So far, the progress is slow, but noticeable, and I’m even learning some words that are really useful in everyday conversation such as Heizepilz (sp?) (heating mantle), Lösungsmittel (solvent), Nederschlag (precipitate), and drug (or drub…)(cloudy/opaque, as in a solution). And, of course, the ever-useful, “Nanopartikeln.” I thank God every day I’m here for cognates.

Eurotrip 2: Mainz's Minstrels

(This was written on May 20, 2010)

Today, the scene in the floor kitchen, I am convinced, came straight out of an American film about student/youth life in Europe. As I was walking up the stairs to my third floor room, and heard loud guitar music, I stopped by each doorway on my way from the staircase trying to figure out from where the noise was coming. As I passed the shared kitchen, I realized I had found the source. Curious, and looking for an excuse to walk into the kitchen, I rushed back to my room and grabbed two carrots, some cherry tomatoes, and a quarter of a kohlrabi, and returned to spend fifteen minutes washing them.

When I opened the door, I saw two guys around my age holding guitars, sitting around the dining room table. One was laying down a chord progression with what seemed to my inexperienced ear sort of a Latin groove, the other whipping out some pretty sick riffs on top of it. The one laying down the chord progression had a shaggy mop of blond hair, and the other greasy dark brown hair down to his shoulders, scruffy facial hair and glasses (think Severus Snape after a week in Azkaban and having his wand broken). Both had cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and, from the looks of their ashtray, they had already been through about half a pack of them. The one with the long hair and the riffs seemed to be getting really into it, closing his eyes and violently contorting the face half hidden by his long hair and the haze of smoke surrounding them which, coupled with the late afternoon sun coming through the windows behind them, made them seem pervertedly angelic.

When I walked in, I greeted them with the usual “Hallo!” + nod. The response I received from the one with the chords was the snarl of a brooding artist. The other seemed too wholly immersed in his art to give me the time of day, which was fine with me, since I was enjoying their music very much. When they stopped after a few minutes, they gave me much friendlier nods. (I attributed their rudeness to my interrupting their jam session.) Then, they said something to the girl at the stove in a language I could not identify but that sounded vaguely like the Bosnian that some of the students in my high school used to speak. She seemed to be cooking for all three of them (unless she was planning to eat 8 potatoes, a bunch of spinach, and a pot of boiled barley on her own). They then kept playing, Severus now retiring to chords and his friend doing the equally-as-inspired improvisation atop it. After taking 5 minutes to peel each of my carrots and another five minutes to wash my tomatoes and cut my kohlrabi, I figured I could no longer stay in the kitchen without someone getting suspicious. So I retreated to my room, made a sandwich of some ham and cheese and exceptionally dense bread that I had bought a few days before, and sat down to my dinner of salad and sandwich. I left my door cracked so that I could hear the minstrels down the corridor

A sandwich, 2 carrots, a quarter of a kohlrabi, some cherry tomatoes, a dollop of fig jam, a spoonful of Nutella, and a few swigs of Mezzo Mix later, (I had skipped lunch) I returned to the kitchen to wash my dishes. Now, there was another man, who seemed to only have stopped by for a cigarette or two because, after he finished the one in his mouth, he stood up and they exchanged goodbyes in heavily accented German. Being a non-native speaker (and hardly a “speaker” at all) and thus insensitive to the nuances of the language, rest assured that if I noticed the accent, it was heavily accented. He left and, not wanting to be known for my unnecessarily long dish- and vegetable- washing sessions (I was now pushing 10 minutes for a bowl, plate, and knife), I did too.

Part of me wished I had brought a guitar so I could sit down with them and jam. The other part of me wished I knew how to play the guitar. Indeed, I had walked into the floor lounge my freshman year at the University of Iowa to other jam sessions, but I am confident that none of them were as much of a Spanish (?) guitar, Gaulloise-in-mouth experience. (And, indeed, the campus no-smoking rule structurally precludes any such experience.) These guys were really talented, as in, why-are-you-wasting-your-time-in-university-when-you-should-be-opening-for-Eric-Clapton-on-tour talented. Maybe tomorrow evening I will walk in on an impromptu a cappella session (hold the cigarettes). That would be serendipity, now wouldn’t it?

The Last McSupper

(This was written on May 15, 2010, but could not be published until now because of the incredible inconvenience of Boingo hotspots in lieu of free WiFi at O’Hare International Airport. Seriously.)

There’s something about a McDonald’s 10-piece chicken nugget meal that’s sort of comforting. Yes, I know what there could be in the chicken-food-pulp that makes the perfectly shaped little nuggets. But, for some reason, travelling just draws me to McDonald’s. When Shandhini (my sister) and I are making the 6.5-hour trip from Iowa City to Sioux Falls, we sometimes­–well, frequently–indulge in McDonald’s. The 10-piece chicken nugget meal is my go-to meal. It was the first meal that I ate after becoming an American citizen, and I thought it was only appropriate that it be the last thing I eat before I travel for the first time on my new passport. I should clarify that by no means do I frequent fast food establishments—in fact, the idea sort of disgusts me for the most part, and I thoroughly enjoy cooking for myself. But, at times, especially on the road, fast food is all that will do it.

I spent quite a while deciding where to eat my last meal in the United States until August. In the food court near my departure gate, there is a Prairie Tap, a B-Smooth Smoothies & Salads, a Burrito Beach Mexican Grill, a Pizza Express, a McDonald’s, a ManchuWok, and an O’Brien’s Grill. I looked at the menu at Prairie Tap and because I think there’s something wrong with consuming beer in lieu of a (quite literally) solid meal, I moved on. B-smooth was of course out of the running from the beginning; what exactly about smoothies and salads screams Americana and/or filling meal? Burrito Beach, now there was a place I could stand behind. There are few things more American than the “Mexican Grill.” Unfortunately, this afternoon on the way to the airport, Shandhini and I decided to have lunch together, and I chose Panchero’s Mexican Grill. (For those of you from Iowa City, you know that there are few mexican grills better than Panch. For those of you who aren’t, take our word for it.) But, to be honest, I could’ve eaten Mexican again. Viable option No. 1. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Pizza, so I kept walking past Pizza Express. Ah, the beacon of all that is true and good: those iconic golden arches. I looked at the menu and, being the painfully indecisive person that I am, considered it viable option No. 2 and moved on. Places like ManchuWok suffer from the same syndrome of superficial cultural reappropriation that Mexican grills do. Battered pieces of chicken coated in phosphorescent pink “sweet and sour” sauce does not strike me as something that a Chinese person regularly makes at home, but nor is it altogether not delicious. Hence, viable option No. 3. O’Brien’s Grill was out of my $8 price range (because this was all the cash I had left), and was thus pretty easy to rule out.

Even though McDonald’s is about as multinational as corporations come (my Dad sometimes would take me and my sister out for McDonald’s on Fridays after school in South Africa, and I recall eating at McDonald’s in India, Italy, and elsewhere in Southern Africa as well) there is still something uniquely American about it—and part of me knew that I would likely not be wanting to eat McDonald’s in Germany. But, the deciding factor that put McDonald’s ahead of ManchuWok and Burrito Beach? The sign saying :

1 Snack Wrap…………………………..1.70

2 Snack Wraps for only..…………...3.40