Brian McCarthy, featured in photo above, is dressed as:
a) A superhero who recently failed his audition to become the next Captain America
b) The spokesman for an ad campaign encouraging American men to smoke cigars
c) A man ready to participate in a traditional German game played in winter
d) A parody of the stereotypes that Germans have of Americans
The correct answers are c, d and e. If you answered a or b, you should get at least half a point because those might seem more likely. This photo was taken before we started the 2013 game of Boßeln (I love that I now know how to make the ß character, it's otherwise written as ss, but what fun is that?). Every year, our friends Kaska and Thorsten host a game of Boßeln.
Boßeln, also known as Klootschießen (a much funnier name, also with a ß), is a game played in certain parts of northern Germany and the Netherlands... generally in places where it gets cold in the winter and there is nothing better to do. Kaska and Thorsten started hosting the Boßeln game when they lived in Kiel, and have since moved it to Hannover. They bring in friends from all over - this year it was Cologne and Kiel and Hamburg, and even Polish friends from France.
I can't tell you that I understand all the rules of Boßeln as Thorsten is explaining them in the photo you see here, but that's not important. The basic idea is that there are two teams who compete to see who can roll the ball farther and get to the end of the path first. If you roll the ball far, that's a good thing. If your team can't pass the other teams ball in two throws, you all have to take a shot of Schnapps (which is a nice word for some pungent grain alcohol...). If your ball gets passed, you take a shot. Then sometimes there are made-up rules, like if a jogger goes by or you get to an intersection, you take a shot. The team that reaches the end of the path first wins.
This year it wasn't terribly cold but it was really muddy. This caused some problems for the wheels of strollers and the Bollerwagen, which is the wagon used to haul beer, schnapps, water, snacks, and sometimes babies (seen below).
After the game ended we went to the Schweinehaus. At the Schweinehaus, we ate:
That was meant to be an easy one for those of you who didn't do so well on the first question.
The correct answers are b and c. Schweine is pig and they made a lot of it. We had sausage and Kasseler, which is a smoked ham, and two kinds of potatoes and Grunkohl. Grunkohl is kale, which is cooked in pork fat until it's soft. It's not for everyone but it is exactly for a winter day that involves being cold and drinking beer.
After the meal we headed back to the community center where we'd started the game, and had a dance party. Why not? Brian had changed out of his outfit by this time, but was already being called "Captain America" by anyone who could not remember his name. I couldn't look at that mustache without laughing. Luckily it was gone the next day. Unlike the Hitler-staches below, his was authentic, which made it funnier.
What is the American equivalent of Boßeln? I guess it would be horseshoes or bocce ball or curling. Or maybe there isn't one.