Tuesday, 24 July 2007

An Interview... and a Banana Cake

When reading the interview meme over a Tartelette I was instantanously intrigued to get such an interesting glimpse into another person's life - and ultimately I began to wonder what Helen might ask me if I just asked her for an interview... Would it be awkward, would it be nice? Whilst reading through the comments other people had left, I decided to be spontaneous (which I am usually not) and just ask her. And a couple of days later, an email arrived with five questions I've been pondering about since then.

But hang on a minute - and I haven't forgotten about the banana cake recipe I've promised in the last post. This banana cake is very moist due to the coffee and that makes you almost forget about its low-fat character. Almost - I said. Another question I'm wondering about these days: When knowing you eat something is rather healthy (well, as far as cake goes), will you still think it moreish or are you unintentionally inclined not to like it that much? While liking the pronounced banana flavour, I couldn't quite make up my mind on how to rate this cake. My boyfriend wasn't a reliable test person in that respect because he simply complained about the fact that the cake didn't contain any chocolate. In case you're not looking for something healthy, feel free to add tons of chocolate chips!

Now without further ado, an interview by Helen of Tartelette:

1/ Name a few things you miss the most about Germany, food related and not.

Well, I better won't start listing all my friends and family... Apart from that, I very much miss German bakeries with non-pillowy bread, crusty bread rolls, and their non-refined but tasty sweet treats. I really don't need a layered mousse cake all the time... However, this deprivation was the trigger to make my own bread which turned out to be utterly fascinating. I still haven't discovered all the mysteries about sourdough etc. but I'm working on it!

Another thing I'm constantly whinging about is the absence of European-style quark or curd. It's a crucial ingredient of many a cake in Germany as you can see here; and mixed with fruit, a little sugar, and maybe some cinnamon or even cream it's the perfect afternoon snack.

I also had to accept that you can hardly get decent potatoes in Sydney - they're usually very pale, floury, and almost tasteless. And now remember that in traditional German cuisine the potato is omnipresent...

Okay, enough complaining. Apart from certain foods, there's not a lot of things that I really miss. Getting settled in Australia was easier than you might think - after all, most of the Australians have their roots in some European country so I didn't feel very "foreign". In any case, I'm still glad that my boyfriend who lured me down under, didn't plan to do his PhD in Siberia or any other uncomfortable place.

2/ As an expat I encounter many stereotypes about my home country. What do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have about Germany?

Currently experiencing winter in a country without central heating and/or properly insulated houses, I am cold all the time... Aussie friends are usually a bit bewildered about that: "Hey, you're from Germany where you have snow all the time - shouldn't you be used to it?" Well, I admire the Aussies who defeat the cold weather by sheer will power. I have never seen a people so determined to wear shorts and thongs even on a grey and rainy day with only 5 degrees. What makes it even funnier is the fact that there are also people determined on finally wearing a winter coat with a scarf when summer has barely finished. Sometimes you might get sick of wearing shorts and thongs...

Apart from that, Germans are supposed to be always on time - and I'm trying to do my best in showing that we can be just as relaxed as everyyone else on earth..;-)

3/ What is the hardest thing to adjust to when moving from Europe to Australia? The easiest?

This may sound a bit weird but the hardest thing was being constantly confronted with a certain question: "How are you?" This question exists in Germany, too, but is hardly ever used. Usually, only good friends would ask you this and then expect to get a full answer. So you'll start ranting about all the crap that has recently happened in your life. I quickly realized that the girl at the checkout did not really want to know about the state of my relationship, failed job applications or that I gained two kilos in just one week. However, I always felt a bit startled whenever the guy at the meat counter asked how I was doing today. In order to prevent any awkward silence or helpless mumbling on my part, I started to learn a few unsuspicious, short phrases to be thrown in whenever the need would arise. Eventually, I learned to relax. But to be honest, it took me about a year.

The easiest thing was to get accustomed to calling everyone by the first name. In Germany, this is pretty much unheard of. It's an important part of etiquette to address people in senior positions (or simply people older than you) only with their surname. And the day your boss offers you to call him by his first name, is regarded as something really special. However, I really like this custom!

4/ We call ourselves foodies but we all have closet with non foodie items that we use or eat once in a while, be it cake mix, instant mixes, etc...Which ones are yours if any?

I've already admitted here that I'm quite addicted to custard out of a little paper sachet. For me, it's all about instant gratification... Another favourite cheat of mine is a box with spaghetti, dehydrated tomato sugo, including little sachets with herbs and grated parmesan. This stuff can be stored almost indefinitely and is therefore always available - and let me tell you, it's quite tasty, too. Furthermore, it's not even unhealthy compared with other fast food items. However, I've never seen this little box anywhere in Australia - now I have to take care that my cupboard is always well stocked with all four emergency items.

5/ Name 2 ingredients, dishes or items that you have never had but always dreamed to try.

I'm a great admirer of French pastry - especially as I've never been able to make a tart crust that came close to those I've had in France. They're crunchy, nicely browned which gives them a slightly nutty taste, and they won't crumble too much when you bite into it. One day, I'll master it... However, I had at least a taste of it - which is still not the case with Tarte Tatin, another signature dish of France. Currently, I'm only owning a spring form tin but as soon as I have something that won't give way to all the buttery caramel goodness on the bottom, that'll be the first cake to bake!

I'm just realizing that there's a lot of French stuff that I haven't had yet. It's a bit embarrassing but I may be the only food-blogger who has never ever had creme brulee. Whilst everyone is blogging about the newest concoction infused with earl grey tea, lavender or who-knows-what, I'm still missing the original experience. I don't know if it never was on any restaurant menu (that said, I usually have sweet stuff at home) or if I just didn't choose it. One reason might be that I usually try to choose a flavour combination that I can't anticipate at all - and I am able to imagine custard. However, I'm still lacking the whole brulee experience. Look at this wonderful shiny, caramelized surface - let's get cracking!

And who would like to get interviewed next?

1. Leave a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Beware, I’m not shy of asking personal questions! Please make sure I have your email address.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. Answer as little or as much as you'd like. And don't forget to add the directions at the bottom of your post
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Healthy Banana Cake

The ingredients

2 big bananas, mashed
125 ml strong coffee, cold
75 ml oil
3 eggs
100g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
100g all-purpose flour
200g LSA-Mix (see hint)
1 sachet baking powder

Note: I forgot to mention that I also added some cinnamon, mixed spice, vanilla sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Mix eggs with sugar and all the liquid ingredients.

Fold in flour, LSA-Mix, and baking powder.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin or mini-loaf tin and bake at 150 degrees (fan-forced) until a skewer inserted comes out clean (I don't remember the exact baking time but it was around 20-25 minutes).

The source
My own invention

The hint
LSA-Mix consists of linseed, soy, and almonds that are ground - you'll find it in the health aisle of your supermarket. If not, substitute with ground nuts of your choice.


Lucy said...

Cake sounds great Eva.

Just between you and I, I've never eaten let alone made creme brulee either!

Great to read about your experience of moving to a new country. Thanks.

Eva said...

Thanks Lucy, now I don't have to feel like the only one missing out on creme brulee!

Susan said...

Stereotypes are a "funny" thing. People have actually challenged me that I couldn't be of German extraction b/c I am a petite brunette. Go figure. Anyway, your interview was very engaging; I enjoyed it.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Eva, you are not alone - I have never had creme brulee either!

Nora B. said...

How are you? heh heh heh...sorry, i couldn't resist. I really enjoy listening to your stories about Australia because there are so many things (differences and quirks) that I've taken for grated here.

This is a terrific interview!

p/s: I'm not a fan of creme brulee, but we should fix your brulee deprivation soon :-) Any excuse to buy a blow torch!

Nora B. said...

wooops, forgot to say that the healthy recipe looks good. I never tried making banana cake with coffee, so this will be top on my list when banana prices goes down ($7.99/kg is too much for me to make banana cake. I rather eat it raw as a snack).

Eva said...

Thanks Susan, nice to know that you've enjoyed it! in Australia, I think, it's kind of easy to forget about stereotypes cos people come here from all over the world.

Patricia - I really thought creme brulee to be the most-eaten dessert in the world (after mousse au chocolat and tiramisu, maybe)! How funny is that..;-)

Nora - Well, I've practiced very hard and now you can't throw me off balance with such a question anymore...hehe...
Please count me in for all your blowtorch adventures!
Re. bananas, I just discovered the overripe, discounted bananas that are sold sometimes in little buckets at Harris Farm Market. They still taste great and are best for baking!

WokandSpoon said...

It's funny reading your experiences with living down under especially since we're living in Germany right now. Hehe - and yep, we expect the Germans to always be on time ;-)

Oh, and I love French pastries and desserts - everything from the simple croissant to tarte tartin!

Eva said...

Hi WokandSpoon - I really would like to know who started the general belief that Germans are always on time... This person has made my life quite difficult..;-)
Have you ever written a post about your experiences with people and prejudices in Germany? I'd really be interested in that!

Nora B. said...

Eva, I forgot to ask you what you thought of the silicone moulds. Is it hard to unmould? etc? I still haven't gotten round to using mine.

Eva said...

Nora - They're perfect! I still spray on some cooking spray though - just to make sure. I haven't had any experience yet with moulded dessert like custard (guess you still remember the latest attempt..;-) but I suppose it should work, too, as you can easily evert them.

promoteyourblogforfree said...

nice blog

Eva said...

Thank you!