Solar Superiority, Foraging for Bear Garlic Leaves and Rustic Livin’ in Deutschland

This past weekend, I had an amazing time with good friends and their families in a small town outside of Wurzburg, Germany. The weather was still transitioning from winter to spring but we got a couple hours each day of sun and warmth, not to mention having plenty of local German beers and Franken wine to lift our spirits.

I had been staying with long time family friends directly on the border of France and Germany near the town of Kiesterslatern. Our destination for the weekend was near Wurzburg was about a 3hr drive East. During the short road trip we drove past many solar farms — huge swaths of land with hundreds of panels. I knew Germany was a environmentally conscious and progressive nation, notably with the only increasing tree population of any country in the world, though I found out that they are also the biggest producer of solar energy. (kind of strange given the imbalance of sunny days vs. seemingly infinite overcast ones per my memories living there many years ago..) Regardless, Germany is now crushing it on the global solar scene. They subsidizes farmers to use their land and seem to have a pretty efficient distribution network for the energy thats being generated. I know that one of the biggest obstacles with the US in deploying solar fields is building out the infrastructure to get the generated power to the towns, cities and consumers.

What also struck me was the large percentage of solar panels on individual houses. In the small town where my friends live, I would estimate about 20% of the total houses had panels! Granted, many didn’t look that great on the roofs but at least they we’re self-sustaining. Luckily some cool solar companies and home designers are making progress in elegant panel design and deployment.

Ok, onto new food discoveries…

Bärlauch (Ramsons or Bear’s Garlic) is a leafy green in the onion family that smells and tastes just like bulb garlic. Also pretty close to ramps, the Spring time favorite —> (just throw on a hot grill for a few minutes with olive oil and salt)

Earlier in the day, some of the early rising members of our party paid a visit to the town fish shop and picked up a couple of fresh water trouts that were plucked from the nearby stream that same morning. We then proceeded to forage in the woods behind the holiday house for Bärlauch which is all that’s needed (besides a little butter, salt and pepper) when tossing fresh trout on a fire pit grill. The fish turned out amazing with a subtle and aromatic garlic flavor.

For the rest of the weekend, the fire pit became our center of relaxing, warmth and cooking all types of dishes. It was a great outdoor occasion to bring in Spring. It also felt good to learn and see so much clean energy being gathered as well as food and ingredients from the backyard. No Whole Foods needed here. This is the way it should always be.

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