i had my first glühwein of the season on a perfect november day in berlin; we'd just toured a spooky east german amusement park with our friend ed and were taking the long way back to the train along the spree when it began to drizzle. the vacation rule, of course, is that one must hole up with a drink when it starts to rain, and lo, there was a riverside cafe. do germans ever put their holiday mugs away? we took a table and argued about politics for an hour while i pretended i was a one-woman christmas market. i'm still thinking of berlin, and of another friend who lived there for a few months while working on her doctorate. she posted on facebook last night:
Listening to the BBC interviewing someone about the Berlin attacks - yesterday's kick in the chest, for me - and the reporter asks some security pundit if the Germans know everything about the however-many-thousand refugees that they are sheltering. And pundit responds (in paraphrase), "of course not, but we also don't know everything about the however-many-million Germans who live in the country, and nor should we _want_ to." Stay sensible, my shaken city.
i adapted a chowhound recipe, as our local grocery store lacked whole cloves and cardamom pods and making a two-bottle batch of glühwein when you only live with one person is intense, even when you're mostly german.

first-day-of-winter glühwein

- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- pinch of ground cardamom
- pinch of ground cloves
- 5/8 c granulated sugar
- 5/8 c water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bottle red wine (i used castillo de fuente)
- 1/4 cup brandy (i used grappa we smuggled on the train from milan to berlin)

zest and juice the citrus and put the zest and juice in a medium saucepan; add the cloves, cardamom, sugar, and water, then bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces by a third. add the red wine and brandy, then bring back to a simmer, remove from heat, serve in mugs, and make merry. i leave the zested citrus in there; it reminds me of fallen leaves in the spree.

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