Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Horse Bone Marrow, and other Bizarre Acts of Hospitality

My leg is healing nicely. It doesn´t hurt anymore, the scar is fading, and when I accidentally put weight on it for a few seconds last weekend, my ankle didn´t give out.

My recovery isn´t surprising, since I´ve been following the recommendations of various health professionals: eating plenty of calcium and protein; getting enough rest; physical therapy twice a week; smearing my leg daily with a salve of horse bone marrow.

Yes, horse bone marrow. Really. It was a present from my friend PT´s mom. Apparently it´s traditionally used to treat broken bones in the Oberlausitzer Bergland. The belief is that the horse marrow cells will strenghten your own bones. --My physical therapist assures me that this is utter nonsense, since skin isn´t permeable from the outside. But I figure that it can´t hurt, either, and the grease might give the skin on my ankle a supple, youthful look. Besides, I´m here to experience another culture, aren´t I? Is there a better way than by smearing myself with the last mortal remains of Black Beauty?

The horse bone marrow is yellow and fatty. I keep it in an old vitamin container in my refrigerator. It has a strong smell. Not good, but not terrible either-- just strong. I sleep in old socks so the stuff won´t get all over my sheets.

I didn´t ask where Mrs. PT obtained the horse bone marrow. Maybe somebody´s old nag died. Or maybe she got it at the butcher shop.

You can find horse meat at some butcher shops in Germany. Over here, horse is not just for Fido anymore. German people eat horse meat, too.

My former German professor, ID, was once forced to eat horse meat in order to avoid offending her German hosts. She was living with a family in the Rheinland at the time. They found out that she´d never experienced the great delicacy that is horse flesh, so they insisted on preparing it for her as a special treat.

'No, really,' I picture her saying. 'You don´t have to go through all that trouble just for me.`

When ID tells the story, she says, `The whole time I was eating it, I kept picturing a big, round horse butt.` As she says this, she habitually traces the outline of a horse´s rump in the air.

`What did it taste like?` we ask her.
'It reminded me of bear meat, actually.' --ID grew up in the wilds of north Idaho, where people eat things like bear and moose and cow brains and pig testicles. But not horse. Horses aren´t for eating, in Idaho. They´re kept as ´companion animals.` Children in Idaho (ID, for example) have ponies as pets and take them to 4-H shows.

And this, from my cultural biased North American perspective, is how it should be. I would never eat a horse. Or a dog, either.

But really, which is weirder, eating horse meat or rubbing horse bone marrow into your broken ankle?


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3:53 PM  
Blogger Ada said...

Perhaps... Though I don´t know of any home remedies involving deer guts.

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