Twenty-three euros and nineteen cents after entering Lidl, a local grocery chain in Northwestern Germany, I had a 5 kilo (11 pound) chicken, a 50 gram (1.7 ounces) bottle of garlic powder, another of paprika, a third of thyme, and the last of a chicken seasoner that reminded me of Lawry's salt. I had three large lemons, a bunch of scallions, a small plastic pack of cherry tomatoes, a pack of sliced goat cheese, a pack of sliced Gouda, a small container of spreadable goat cheese, a pack of four small packages of salad seasoning, and five small chocolate bars for an upcoming birthday party. And a heavy, re-usable cloth bag in which to carry it all home, every bit as politically correct (fair trade!!) as its American counterparts that'll cost ya, cost ya, cost ya.
The same items would run me about six times as much on the Upper West Side at the West Side Market. Lidl lohnt sich runs the German store's motto, translating, approximately, as Lidl makes itself worthwhile, or Lidl creates savings.
Indeed. We get on the tram--my daughter and I--me marveling at how much I got for how much I did not spend, she leaning back on the kind of plush seat that hasn't graced New York subways since I was five years old. Eons ago.
We get off the tram and walk toward our house, which is like something out of a Thomas Mann novel, all gables and high ceilings and enough secret passageways to run several underground railroads--and again it occurs to me that in Manhattan I'd have to be Donald Trump to afford this much space and quiet--plus a gigantic back yard that comfortably accommodates a guinea pig cage, a swing set, a clubhouse built with materials that fell off the back of a truck when there was construction next door, and a small round swimming pool big enough to float in.
So it is paradise. The only problem with paradise is that it is here . . . not in New York. But meals are always entertaining, the children at the moment honing their "diss" skills, pretend-insulting each other, as in: "You're so ugly that Medusa would turn to stone if she looked at you!" and "You're so fat your blood group is Nutella!" and "You're so dumb you order Weisswurst (the favorite Bavarian sausage) in a Chinese restaurant." And I sit back, relax, take a sip of chilled white wine, and enjoy the show.