Fish Allergy Facts: Why I Can Eat Tuna Without Dying (According to My German Wife, Who Is Not a Doctor)

fish-allergy-tuna-school-sea

“Filthy, slimy, angels of the sea.” — Image Credit: TheAnimalDay.org (https://www.flickr.com/photos/theanimalday/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I was born with a pretty wicked allergy to fish. My parents first discovered it at Disneyland when I was just a little kid; we were tossing chunks of fish to the dolphins and the juices ran down my hands and arms, causing redness and swelling, which earned me a hasty trip to the emergency room. “Oooh, look Mom! Flashing red lights and a siren! This is WAY better than Pirates of the Caribbean!”

Since then I’ve avoided fish as if my life depended on it, because… it kinda does. Salmon, halibut, cod, catfish, herring, anchovies, trout… all of them cause a rapid allergic reaction when they touch my skin — especially my lips or the inside of my mouth. And the sensation is truly unpleasant, like swelling, throbbing, burning, itching and aching all wrapped up into one perfect pain. Like it was designed specifically by God himself to punish me for being a naughty 8-year-old boy who should have known better than to burn all those tiny little ants with a magnifying glass.

swollen-fat-lip-allergic-reaction

“… so that you may know the anguish you have inflicted.” — Image Credit: Kate Brady (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cliche/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

But the real danger would be if I ever ingested enough fish to cause my entire body to freak out and my windpipe to swell shut. That’s called anaphylaxis, and I don’t know about you, but I think it sounds like just a barrel of laughs. Luckily, I could never really consume enough to cause such a reaction unless I decided to chug a glass of fish juice or swallow a fistful of fish oil capsules. And that wouldn’t be an accident at all; that would be suicide.

Oh sure, I’ve flirted with fish a few times over the years. You know, just to see if I was still allergic. Like, at a friend’s house, I once touched half a fish stick to my lip only to spend the remainder of the evening looking like a 5th grader with the world’s most aggressive case of oral herpes. And then one time, during a work meeting in the mid-2000s, my entire office went out to lunch at a Japanese restaurant. We all ordered miso soup, and I’d never had a problem with it in the past, but this time it was made with real fish broth. It tasted so good I drank that shit right from the bowl, and about one minute later, my upper lip swelled up and stuck out so far I looked like a Simpsons character.

Planked Alaskan salmon and asparagus

“Planked Alaskan succubus with asparagus.” — Image Credit: Jessica Spengler (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

To this day, I really don’t know what fish even tastes like — especially salmon. That stuff looks delicious, but it’s supposed to cause the most intense reaction of them all, so I leave that sexy bitch alone. The one kind of fish I can eat, however, is tuna.

I was about 25 years old when I discovered tuna didn’t mess with me. It happened by accident: One day, I thought I was holding a chicken salad sandwich, but when I bit down, it turned out to be tuna fish, and oh… my… CHRIST was it delicious! That weirdo tuna meat all mixed up with relish and mayonnaise? I was in heaven! It was like discovering a whole new set of taste buds! Crazy taste buds — and they were having a freaky bondage sex party right inside my mouth! And later I discovered I can even eat raw tuna, like at a sushi restaurant! (But if it bumps up against my wife’s sashimi salmon, the party’s over and I’m headed straight back to Fucksville.)

tuna-fish-sandwich-photography

“You beautiful creature… where have you been all my life? Oh. Literally RIGHT in front of my eyes.” — Image Credit: thebittenword.com (https://www.flickr.com/photos/galant/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

So I’ve been a pretty zealous tuna lover ever since. Wouldn’t you be, after avoiding a delicious type of food over two thirds of your life? Now, I make sure and buy at least three cans of tuna every time I go to the grocery store. It makes an awesome snack, especially if I’m in a hurry. That’s why, the other day when I sat down next to my German wife on the couch to start a movie, I confessed to her I’d just eaten an entire can in like 30 seconds. She laughed and said it’s weird that I can eat tuna but no other fish. Then she went on to speculate as to the reason, saying:

“Maybe tuna is not really a fish. Maybe it’s a water chicken.”

 


 

Dr. Tomatolove or: How I Learned to Stop Loathing and Love the Tomato

I hate tomatoes - flipping the bird, middle finger

“You know what sucks about you guys? EVERYTHING.”

I have hated tomatoes as long as I can remember. Even as a child I cursed the name of that imp from hell who decided tomatoes should go on everything: cheeseburgers, salads, sandwiches, pizza — all ruined by this filthy vegetable. If a tomato touched one leaf of my salad, I didn’t just disregard that particular leaf, I jettisoned the entire quadrant. If there was only one pizza to be eaten, and every single piece had a slice of tomato on it, I would grab one and use my napkin to wipe that mother down until the crust showed. In college I tried to eat a cherry tomato at a party and wound up dry heaving in front of a bunch of hot chicks. Hell, even at 2am — drunk as tits and baked like a cake — I would still pick the tomato chunks out of my Taco Bell. I haaaaaaaaaated tomatoes. HATED THEM.

It’s wasn’t just the taste, and it’s wasn’t just the texture; it was the one-two punch of taste and texture. I mean, tapioca pudding has about the same mouthfeel as fish eggs and glue, but it tastes awesome. And Brussels sprouts taste like straight up poison, but they feel like baby cabbages dying inside your mouth, so they’re kinda fun. No, tomatoes ruined my day in every way they possibly could; by tasting like bloody, organic battery acid with the texture of jellied eyeballs wrapped in foreskin. God dammit! What a perfectly engineered adversary!

tomato-close-up-cherry-health

Son of a BITCH.

But in order to truly hate something, you have to be at least a little bit afraid of it, right? Isn’t that how loathing works? I honestly don’t know what tomatoes ever did to me to earn such scorn, but it must have been awful. Like, in some alternate universe, I’m probably stuck on a planet populated entirely by tomato people, and they just love to smear themselves across my naked body all day long and then fart in my mouth. It’s how they celebrate Christmas.

The point is, I’ve avoided tomatoes my entire life… until now. This past summer, I finally decided to get serious and shake hands with the red devil. And it’s not just because I moved to Germany; it’s because my wife and I live in a house with an actual yard in the back, giving us enough space to have a garden where we can grow our own vegetables. Oh, I know what my fellow tomato haters are thinking about now: “Here comes the part where you tell us fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes are different from every other tomato we’ve ever eaten. And that is stone-cold bullshit.”

You’re right; if you really can’t stand the sumbitches, it won’t matter where you get ’em. Do you know how many times my friends and family members have told me that if I just ate this one, special, super organic, jerked-off-by-Mexicans, magic tomato, it would change my attitude forever? Millions. Okay, not millions — probably closer to 5 or 6 times — but still. I understand your pain.

I’ve tried to like tomatoes. I wanted to stop fighting the good fight, but I just couldn’t do it. They were too gross. Then my wife and I started a garden, and I made two decisions:

  1. I would eat one tiny piece of tomato every single day until I learned to like it.
  2. These tomato pieces would only come from our own garden, because that’s supposed to make them taste less horrid.

And that’s exactly what I did. I slowly acclimated myself to tomatoes like a sickly goldfish in hot water. At first I was like, “NOPE. THEY STILL SUCK. THIS SUCKS.” But gradually my knee-jerk reaction weakened. I stopped gagging and was able to actually chew and swallow small pieces of raw tomato. And you know what really made the difference? The fact that when I plucked a ripe tomato right from the vine in our own garden, brought it inside, cut it up and ate a piece, it tasted sweet. Sweet like sugar — I shit you not. I’d never experienced that before! Not even from fresh tomatoes picked in the exact same way and placed in front of me at a friend’s house. Eating my own tomatoes was the key, and it actually became a pleasant experience.

Another thing which really helped were my wife’s Caprese salads. She loves ’em, but I could only ever eat the mozzarella and basil before. Now, I eat the whole thing, and the best part — I can’t believe I’m saying this — is the tomato. It’s what really ties the dish together. I’ve even graduated to eating burgers and salads with tomatoes on them, and they don’t even have to come from our own garden! (God, I seriously feel like a heathen or a traitor to my country or something.)

I’m not saying tomatoes are the greatest thing in the world, but it’s really nice not to have to pull them off everything I order at a restaurant. It’s like I’ve been at war my entire life, and I’m just now experiencing my first ceasefire. I’m not fool enough to stick my head up out of my foxhole and declare my love for the enemy just yet, but I’m not going to snipe their commanding officer either.

To be fair, I still can’t bite down on a cherry tomato without a good old fashioned dry heave — oh my Christ, the seeds just spurt inside your mouth without warning, like a rude sailor — but maybe someday I’ll get there. Maybe. In the meantime, I must grudgingly award tomatoes with a slightly nauseous 3 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

— OGM


Funny German Expressions: Why You Should Always Carry a Little Money in Your Pockets

broke poor empty pockets

“But if you don’t have any money, some lint and a hairball will do just fine.” — Image Credit: Dan Moyle (https://www.flickr.com/photos/danmoyle/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Remember that post I wrote a while back about visiting Konya, Turkey? This week’s denglish lesson — courtesy of my lovely German wife — took place during that trip, and it was a real doozy. In fact, it came so unexpectedly I was actually stunned into silence… right before I started laughing.

It was our first day in Konya, and I was wearing one of those hidden travel pouches to carry around our money and passports. You know the kind I’m talking about? They clip around your waist, beneath your regular belt, just north of your pink parts. Usually they fit in there nice and comfortable, but because I’m a total genius, I decided to carry my entire wallet around in there too, so it bulged out as if I were sporting the world’s most dangerously impacted colon.

So basically I was the designated bank for the remainder of our trip; whenever we needed to pay for something, I would casually turn away from everyone in the vicinity, reach into my pants, unzip the travel pouch and pull out some euros. WARNING: It is impossible to do this in Konya without looking like you’re about to piss on a mosque — an act which would be infinitely more dangerous than just raising a fistful of money to the sky and declaring, “Hello Muslims! I am a white man with retarded amounts of cash on my person and precious little common sense with which to protect it. Would any of you care to kick me straight in my American balls and take it?”

On a side note: I think I’m way more likely to be robbed back home in Portland, Oregon, than I would ever be in Konya, Turkey. In Konya, the scariest thing I encountered was a squat toilet. (And while they may be ergonomically correct, they are also ergonomically disgusting.)

037-turkish-bathroom-squat-toilet

“Nevermind. I’ll just hold it until I die.”

Anyway, toward the end of that first day, after I grew tired of pulling money out of my underwear, I tried to convince my wife it would be okay if she carried a little cash too. She didn’t want to at first, but she finally relented, holding out her hand in the middle of a busy Turkish market and saying:

“Ok, maybe you can give me a €50 so the dog doesn’t pee on me.”

*From the German expression, “Damit mich der Hund nicht anpinkelt,” which translates literally to, “So that the dog does not pee on me.” In all honesty, this expression doesn’t make much sense. At first I thought it was kind of like when a bird shits on your head — you know, just a random instance of bad luck — but my wife said it has more to do with, “not having empty pockets, so you don’t seem like a homeless person… because, I guess, a dog might pee on a homeless person.” (Then she explained it’s just a stupid expression which doesn’t mean anything and I should leave her alone so she could go get a snack from the fridge.)

And if you’d like to read more about Konya, Turkey, check out these two posts:
Discovering Konya, Turkey: The Top 10 Preconceived Notions Dislodged from My American Brain
— and —
Visiting Konya: Pictures and Videos from Our Trip to Turkey

 


 

Funny German Expressions: How to Say Something “Makes a Lot of Sense”

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“Wait… German doesn’t make any sense at all!” — Image Credit: David Goehring (https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

My wife is a very busy woman. She’s a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany, and she works long hours both at school and at home. She puts in some serious overtime grading tests and organizing her lesson plans each night — in part because she’s German, and obsessive attention to detail seems to have a stranglehold on her DNA — but also because she’s just really passionate about her subject. (She teaches philosophy, and she has a major she-boner for Plato.)

This is all great and wonderful. I’m very proud of her. But with so much dedication to work, sometimes the little tasks in life are put on hold — like writing thank you cards after the holidays. Personally, I like to get this over with as soon as humanly possible. We’re talking January 15th here, at the latest. My wife, on the other hand, approaches thank you cards with an attitude closer to, Fuck it, either my awesome American husband will do it for me, or they’ll just write themselves.

So after the holidays last year, when the thank you cards had been sitting on her desk for like 2 months even though I’d already written them and all she had to do was sign them, god dammit, she finally got around to it. She’d taken the time to write some really meaningful, thoughtful words of gratitude, and signed them all with a flourish. Then, when she handed them back to me, she declared:

“Sometimes I take forever to write something, but when I do, it has arms and legs.”

*From the German expression, “Es hat Hand und Fuß,” which translates figuratively to “It makes a lot of sense,” or “It is worthwhile,” but translates literally to “It has hand and foot.”

 


 

The Empire Riverside Hotel in Hamburg, Germany

Empire Riverside Hotel - Hamburg, Germany

It looks a little like the black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey: “What are you doing, Dave? Don’t touch the black monolith, Dave. Oh no, you touched it, Dave, you stupid pink monkey.” — Image Credit: © Empire Riverside Hotel. All rights reserved.

For my wife’s birthday this year, I took her to the Empire Riverside Hotel in Hamburg, Germany. Normally, I would have cheapskated my way out of this and booked an Airbnb or something, but not this time; I wanted to pamper my wife. Pamper her like a drooling toddler.

The Empire Riverside Hotel is a huge building, jutting out from the Hamburg cityscape like an L-shaped Tetris block. (“For the love of god, why won’t you just give me a straight piece?”) If you book a room on the south side, you’ll have an awesome view of the Elbe River and the Hamburg Harbor. If you book a room on the north side, you’ll have an awesome view of the Reeperbahn, some feisty prostitutes and a bunch of dildo shops. The rooms on the east and west sides have views of both, so you can fill your gaze with maritime sentiment, or catch an eyeful of titty. Either way, you win.

For reasons I will never truly understand, my wife loves Hamburg. She even loves the shipping dock, with its endless horizon of container cranes. (Personally, I find shipping docks ugly and unnerving. I mean, they’re filled with giant robots designed specifically to pick up heavy things and maybe — if they feel like it — drop that shit right on your head.) Anyway, my wife and I would typically spend our time in Hamburg strolling along the river or drinking brew doggies on the Elbstrand, but not this time: We just couldn’t leave our badass accommodations.

Empire Riverside Hotel - Hamburg, Germany

“Wait, where is everyone? Is this the zombie apocalypse? It IS the zombie apocalypse! Oh my god, quick! We have to– oooh, look honey… salad rolls.” — Image Credit: © Empire Riverside Hotel and © Andrea Flak (http://andreaflak.de/). All rights reserved.

With the exception of a quick boat tour around the harbor, called a Hafenrundfahrt (Tee hee! I said “fart.”), we spent the entire time inside the Empire Riverside Hotel. The rooms are super sleek and modern, and the windows go all the way from the floor to the ceiling — so you really get that, “I could totally fall out of this window” feeling. Also, the Wi-Fi actually works, which is surprisingly rare in the hotel industry, even though fast, free, internet access is a God-given right and should be available in every corner of the globe. (It says so in the Bible.)

Empire Riverside Hotel - Hamburg, Germany

“Afraid of heights? Perfect time for a drink!” — Image Credit: © Empire Riverside Hotel. All rights reserved.

There’s a very cool lounge on the ground floor called David’s, which offers renowned sushi so expensive it’ll shrink your tuna roll. One floor above is the Waterkant restaurant, where you can easily drop a couple benjamins on dinner for two. And then there’s the bar way up on the 20th floor called, unsurprisingly, Skyline Bar 20up. Everything about the hotel is cool, but by far our favorite part was the spa. It’s not huge or anything, but it is complete; there’s a sauna, steam bath, relaxation room and a gym — you know, for people who like to work out and make the rest of us feel guilty for sitting around all day in fluffy white hotel robes. They also have two foot baths and a full-body submersion pool to help you cool off after you come out of the sauna. And here’s the thing: My wife and I were there mid-week, so we had the whole spa to ourselves! (Everyone else was at work, earning money and paying their taxes on time. Suckers.)

Now, I’ve never been a tremendous fan of saunas — 5 minutes inside of one makes me feel like a hamster in a microwave — but I have been slowly learning to enjoy the experience. (My record time is 11 minutes!) But I discovered I really like steam baths. The one in our hotel was super dark, with cool lights in the walls and steam so thick you could hardly see across the room. Of course my wife preferred the dry heat of the sauna — she’s a true German — but apparently hot, moist, dark places are ideal relaxation conditions for uppity American bloggers like myself.

steam bath

“Ha ha ha! I have no idea what I’m doing!” — Image Credit: Chris Feser (https://www.flickr.com/photos/feserc/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I spent way too long in that steam bath. So long, in fact, my wife had to keep checking up on me:

THE WIFE: “Honey? Are you still alive in there?”

ME: *Hissing at her and pretending to be a vampire* “Yessss, we are alive, but the light burns our skin. Close the door, fair maiden, or come inside and stay — stay forever.”

Once I got to the point where I was about to pass out, I would run from the steam room and jump into the cooling pool. The water was ice-cold, which made my heart pound dangerously hard. Then I would go back inside the steam room and do it all over again. I did this so many times the tiny construction workers inside my body were terrified: “We’re in the Congo! Cool this mother down! Oh shit, now we’re in the Arctic! Heat it back up! Oh no, now we’re back in the — hey, wait a minute…”

Thankfully I’m still relatively young, so my heart didn’t stop, but eventually I decided to join my wife in the relaxation room — where the sane people were. We spent the remainder of the day reading and napping in absolute tranquility. It was glorious.

Clearly my wife and I had an awesome time at this hotel. The prices blew my wallet up like a hobo with a hand grenade, but still, I am compelled to award the Empire Riverside Hotel with a triumphant 5 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany
If you’re ever in Hamburg, you should totally stay there. Tell them some American guy from the Internet sent you. That should score you a look of perfect apathy.

Oh, and here are some pictures I took during our trip. Click one to start the slideshow. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!

— OGM

Violent Arachnophobia: My German Wife Kills the Biggest Spider Ever

Giant German House Spider

“Hello Satan. I knew you’d come for me one day.”

There are lots of things I love about my German wife — she’s smart, funny and beautiful, to name a few — but she also has this one particular characteristic which warms my heart every time I see it: Whenever she sees a spider in our home, she grabs the nearest shoe, swings it up over her head and brings it down with ten thousand times the crushing force necessary to end its life.

You see, when it comes to executing spiders, my wife tends not to fuck around. Oh, she’s not proud of herself for killing them — she knows they’re mostly harmless and she should probably just let them outside instead — but nevertheless, her knee-jerk reaction to seeing a spider is murder, and I just love that about her.

My wife is actually a very gentle person, and she abhors violence. That’s why the spider can’t be too big. If it’s huge, she starts to see it as “more of an animal,” and can’t bring herself to kill it. Me? I’m the exact opposite. I believe in spider karma, so I’ll readily share my office with a tiny little wall crawler. I’ll even talk to it. Name it Sebastián or something. But if I see some giant, hairy bastard come swaggering in, I’ll jump up and stomp that bitch straight back to hell.

I actually wrote a blog post about this very subject last year: American Expat in Germany Nearly Killed by an Acorn, Vents His Shame upon the Biggest Spider in the Universe. The spider in that story was bigger than a €1 euro coin. But just a few nights ago, my wife and I were sitting in the kitchen when an even bigger spider ran across the floor. This one was the size of an American silver dollar:

American Silver Dollar

“Disgusting.” — Image Credit: PhotoAtelier (https://www.flickr.com/photos/glenbledsoe/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Now, we were mid-sentence when she saw it, so you can imagine my alarm when her eyes went wide and suddenly darted down and to the left. Oh great, I thought to myself, I get to spend my Friday night chasing a plague rat out of the house.

I was actually sort of relieved when I saw it was just a spider, but oh my Christ was it huge. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any spare change to toss at the beast for comparison, so you can’t appreciate its size from the video I recorded, but you can bare witness to its execution.

Check it out, and have a great week everyone!

— OGM

 

Reader Survey: Should I Self-Publish a Book Based upon My Blog, ‘Oh God, My Wife Is German.’?

bad writing writers block funny frustrated author

“Help me. Oh please God help me.” — Image Credit: Drew Coffman (https://www.flickr.com/photos/drewcoffman/) — Image subject to CC 2.0 License.

Hello, my dear, devoted and totally awesome readers. I need your help:

For a few years now, I’ve been considering writing a self-published book stemming from this blog, but I need some information from you first before I embark on such a ridiculous adventure. Below is a survey which will help me out a lot as I make my decision. Would you mind taking like 5 seconds out of your day to answer a few questions?

If so: you rule. If not: that’s okay too (dick). But as you answer, please assume the following:

  1. The book would contain 100% sarcastic humor, just like this blog.
  2. It would tell the story beginning from the moment my German wife and I met in the United States, right on up to today, as we live together in Hannover, Germany.
  3. It would contain several of my wife’s very best Denglish quotes. (A ‘greatest hits’ type section, if you will.)
  4. It would weave my most traumatic culture shock experiences throughout the story.
  5. It would NOT be a simple regurgitation of the posts you’ve already read on this blog.
  6. It would be completely hilarious. (I hope. Because if it’s not, I will throw myself off the nearest bridge.)

With these things in mind, here we go!

 

That’s it! So, uh… thank you very much for your time!

Bunny with a pancake on its head

“Seriously though: THANK YOU. You guys rock.” — Image Credit: Andreas Matern (https://www.flickr.com/photos/amatern/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. (Text added by me, though it is hardly original.)

Oh, and if you can think of anything else I’ve forgotten or might consider in terms of self-publishing, please leave me a note in the comments section below.

Have an awesome week everyone! YEAH!!

— OGM