The thought hit me about mid afternoon . . .
Two roads diverged in the woods and I made sausage in Germany and that has made all the difference.
We were given all kinds of options for the play time we get to experience now that much of the work is done but easily the best choice was to travel to a nearby village and spend the afternoon with my hosts' family making sausages. They hired a butcher who does this every year and he is a character. The English speakers among the family call him a German redneck because his stories are so colorful. After watching him handle the sausage packing and engage with my traveling buddy on all things male and hearing his stories of being the chief at the nearby prison's kitchen including a bakery where the baker has only killed three people . . . well, I might have to agree with their assessment.
The basement was filled with the large family and friends, the heat coming from the kettle that resembled an overgrown pressure cooker, two cutting tables, and the various paraphenalia that the butcher needed. His skill with the knives might have been enough to intimidate but he also barked orders with a smile and so I often scooted from one side of the room to the other when he merely looked in my direction but he also offered up some of the prize pieces for me to sample when it came to eating time. I spent at least a half hour cutting fat in small pieces for the later sausages he would form. At times, I had to leave the room because the smell and the heat was a bit overpowering but the experience was amazing.
The amazing part was not what could be done with a pig . . . I grew up in town but had country cousins so sausage making was something I had some knowledge of. It was this family so enjoying their day together. Six adult children with the brightest smiles and incredibly generous spirits, parents who embraced us even though the language barrier was there, a grandmother who fulfilled the image I had of an Oma and the sprinkling of friends who knew enough to be glad we were there.
Later, my host took us to a nearby monastery. We were freezing as the German skies finally decided to offer up the snow we'd been wondering if existed. And as we walked from room to room holding the audioplayer near our ears for the heat and the details of what we were seeing, we could easily imagine centuries ago and the stark life of the monks. I had to laugh at the fact that the monks at the monastery were not meat eaters and I ate more meat products today than I usually manage in a week!!!
We returned to sit around the huge table and enjoy some of the results of our labors (actually, we did very little but I'll pretend I had something to do with the labor). Pickled anything here . . . cucumbers, herring, sauerkraut . . . is so unique and delicious and so very unlike our U.S. version that I tended to be more engaged with those items than the meat but it was an incredible sampling.
The night concluded with conversation both silly and stimulating. Two roads indeed . . .