We have a full house these days—six girls and five adults. Our good friends from New Jersey bit the bullet and made the trek to Berlin to see us for Christmas. They found a flat just one block away from us, an easy walk back and forth each morning and evening.
On December 23 we fanned out across the city, all eleven of us, some heading to Museum Island for a self-guided walking tour of the heart of the city, others of us setting off to a multitude of markets to track down all the groceries we’d need for the coming days, when the city all but shuts down.
After months of daily shopping, this ban on shopping for a string of days, just at the time when we are planning our biggest meals, had led to much anxiety and discussion. It is serious business, Christmas meals, and for us the focus is the Wigilia, the Christmas Eve meal. Ours is modeled on Polish traditions brought by M’s mother’s side of the family so many years ago. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without kapusta, the whole pea-cabbage-dried mushroom soup, or the baked fish, the stewed prunes, or the homemade pierogies. Everyone’s favorite is, of course, those potato and cheese-filled pierogies, the dough light as air.
On the 23rd, sitting on the S-Bahn across from our visiting friends, M asked Larissa, “Do you have the pierogi recipe with you?” Larissa laughed and said no. She saw M’s dark look but assumed he was just kidding. It wasn’t her recipe; she had seen it at M’s sister’s place in New Hampshire a month or so ago on a recent visit, but hadn’t brought it with her.