lundi 23 août 2010

Das dreißigste Jahr

Today is my birthday, and not just any birthday, also my 30th. People tell you different things; some say that everything becomes easier since you’re less concerned with the need to be cool, you’re still young but have more experience and confidence than before. To others, it represents the end of being young; I remember a while ago overhearing some students commenting on the play we had just watched and complaining that the leading actress was simply far too old as she must have been at least thirty! It feels a little strange having these two digits suddenly attached to my name, something I never imagined would happen. There’s a distant memory of our holiday in Brittany as child, walking along the beach and watching the sea wash away our footprints but now it’s such a long time ago.

As ridiculous as it sounds though, when I turned twenty, there was only the sinking impression of being older, of having lost the true youth of Le Grand Meaulnes while everyone around me was saying what a great age it was to be. I remember reading and empathising with the famous lines by Paul Nizan, “I was twenty; let no-one tell me it’s the best time of my life”. I’ll start with a true cliché then, that if I had the choice, I wouldn’t swap my life now for the one I had ten years ago. Even if others have achieved more and I still don’t even have a drivers’ licence, I seem to have come a long way, the places that I’ve lived in, the people I’ve met and most all, I finally have my own place at last. It’s difficult for me to describe the emotion and exhilarating sense of freedom of simply being able to close the door behind me when I return in the evenings or waking up slowly over a cup of tea in the kitchen, looking out over the rooftops. There’s the pleasure of cooking for myself every evening, sitting down with a good book or on Fridays, making pizza and watching a film noir. I love being high up at the top of the building, being able to watch the people from the front window as they come back from shopping or on Sundays stroll leisurely hand in hand. Coming into the building, there’s the smell of dust and deep wood warmed by the rays of the midday sun. Good things are going to come out of living there I feel.
Others are mourning the upcoming end of summer, wondering with each sunny day whether it will be the last good weekend but personally, I can’t wait to see the leaves begin to turn red and gold and feel the first chill in the air as evening falls. September has always been my favourite month, abundant with apples and plums. The light has a special quality and you long to make the most of the fading beauty before winter sets in.

To finish with, a recipe I’ve been wanting to post for a long time. Growing up, it was my birthday cake for the first few years. We used to own a caravan and were normally on holiday whenever it was my birthday which meant we either needed to buy a cake from a shop or make our own which was tricky as we didn’t have an oven. My mother found a solution though by sandwiching a pack of digestive biscuits with chocolate flavoured cream overnight so they turned soft like a cake. It might sound unappealing, something only the British would go in for and I’d never pretend it’s my most sophisticated recipe but somehow it has a special place in my heart and after remaking it earlier this summer, I was pleased to find it still made a nice dessert.

Apple Strudel and coffee

In Oranienburger Straße

A view from the kitchen

In Mitte last Friday

The non-baking birthday cake

1 pack of digestive biscuits/Graham crackers
500ml double/heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons drinking chocolate (or use whatever flavour you prefer)
1. Whip the cream in a large bowl until it begins to thicken. Add as much drinking chocolate as you like (I prefer my cream not too sweet so went for 3 tablespoons but it’s up to you) until you have the desired sweetness then continue whipping the cream until very thick but not too stiff.
2. On a long, oval shaped plate, spread a layer of cream over the area where you wish you have the cake so the biscuits stand upright. Taking two biscuits at a time, sandwich them together with the cream, then stand them next to each other in a row on the plate. Keep going until you’ve used all the biscuits or come to end of the plate. Spread the remaining cream over the tops and sides of the biscuits so they’re completely covered. Chill in the fridge overnight, then cut pieces diagonally and serve immediately.

25 commentaires:

  1. Happy Birthday! Have a great day.

    Remember, you are as young as you feel!

    I am no more 20, but still feel 16 and insecure... LOL

    Your pictures are so pretty!



  2. Hey Happy Birthday. I turned 30 almost 5 years ago and its the best thing that ever happened to me. I just feel so much better in my skin and mostly I just please myself instead of worrying how it might look or what others might think (big deal for me in my 20's).
    Wishing you good things!

  3. Hey, Happy BDay! I loved this post. I'm not thirty yet but so many people I know hit this 'fatal' number this year that I can feel it coming... And I also didn't like being twenty that much, probably because it's supposed to be the best time in our lives.. !! I felt there was too much pressure around this age. It was like "Be happy! You have to! You're twenty!". So I guess it can't be any worse turning 30.. at least that's what I tell myself.
    most importantly...Enjoy the cake!

  4. Happy Birthday!!!! Birthdays are special days to celebrate and be celebrated. I try not to think too much about milestone birthdays. Every decade brings new experiences, I certainly would not want to turn back to 10 or 20, yuk. Wishing you a great decade.

  5. Wishing you a wonderful birthday! Hope you are having a great day. 30 is just the beginning!

  6. Bon anniversaire ! (j'ai détesté passer le permis de conduire, je l'oublie volontiers sur mon palmarès de trentenaire) Ton appart est très joli, et je te sens pleine d'élan à l'orée de cette nouvelle décennie !

  7. Have a very happy birthday and many more to come!

  8. September is my favorite month too. I recall being in my early twenties and thinking 35 years of age was so old and so awful, the age of uncool. Now I am 42 and not feeling so terrible, quite happy actually. I love your mother's cake idea. Happy Birthday!

  9. Happy, Happy Birthday to you! The important thing about happiness is to live in the moment: no regrets of the past, or worries of the future. It sounds like you are doing just that, so good for you! Enjoy your birthday x

  10. Happy Birthday! The older I grow (haha good joke), the more I think that age is a very flexible concept. Playing Tetris on a vintage Game Boy on a rainy day: I'm twelve again ;). I'll turn 30 in December and I have no idea what to do with that... probably forget that I'm officially older than the day before my birthday, as I do every year ;).

  11. Comme toujours ce billet est rempli de cette prose que j'aime tant, sans oublier tes photographies qui nous offrent une jolie ballade à travers ta lorgnette! Comme toi, j'adore l'automne qui s'installe tranquillement avec les températures plus froides, les couleurs fantastiques des feuilles dans les arbres et les journées qui raccourcissent...

    Je te souhaite un merveilleux anniversaire Vanessa, tout ce que tu désires, des petits comme des grands plaisirs pour toute l'année à venir!

  12. Happy birthday! I feel like you have given us all a gift through your writing and photographs. I have enjoyed learning about you and your adventures through this beautiful blog. Thanks for sharing your stories! Happy day!

  13. L'âge, c'est dans la tête! Choisi ton nombre préféré et c'est ton âge pour les dix prochaines années!
    Happy happy birthday by the way!

  14. Je ne me manifeste pas souvent mais je lis et trouve ton blog doux, agréable et juste.
    Bon anniversaire!

  15. I hope you have a very happy birthday.

  16. Happy 30th, my good friend! I love your the years go by, you will always remain young.
    I look in the mirror and wonder who that old woman is. I still feel 30!

  17. Joyeux anniversaire ! Quelque soit l'âge le tout est de ne ps oublier que ce n'est qu'un chiffre sans trop de signification !

  18. Oh ! Et dire que j'ai manqué de te souhaiter un Joyeux Anniversaire à temps... je m'en veux un peu, mais j'ai une grande et belle pensée pour toi aujourd'hui où le soleil brille sur Paris. Je te souhaite beaucoup de bonheur pour tes 30 ans ! Grosses bises à toi Vanessa.
    Pour moi, le mois de septembre (avec toute sa splendeur) marquera le passage aux 31 ;-) Le temps passe quoi qu'on fasse !

  19. Happy Birthday Vanessa! A little late, as I just came back from a no-Internet week in California...
    A few days ago, at a restaurant, the waitress refused to serve me wine unless I showed her my ID. "But I'm turning 30 this year!" I exclaimed... and suddently I realized that it was true :) Take care, I'm happy you're feeling so good in your new place.

  20. Happy Bday!! may all your dreams come true, I am past 30 and honestly still feel very nice in my skin, not too young not overly old just wishes


  21. Congratulations on your birthday and your move! I'm so looking forward to glimpses into your new home.

  22. This is a beautiful post.

    I don't think that you come into this world thinking "well I will be thirty, thirty years from this day. You come into the world "free" concern's about age is societal and a "learned behavior" one that I dismiss is much more interesting to see how ones soul develops over a lifetime.

    Now how about that delicious cake you have here!

  23. Now I know what we are going to eat tonight!!!
    I'm keeping my birthday wishes to myself for an hour because it's so much more pleasant to scream them over your cake and candles, dear!
    I'll soon be 30 too and I am confident that we both will have a lot of fun. I love your picture as a child by the way, you look so beautiful.
    Much love to you Vanessa!

  24. Happy Birthday lovely! So glad to hear that you're feeling good things bubbling up from having your own place already x

  25. Hello - this is my first visit to your blog which I found on Lazaro Cooks. I love your writing, your blog name and your non-baking cake! I used to make something very similar, very often in my blisfully misspent youth :)

    If, it's not too terribly late - very happy belated birthday wishes to you!