In the “Christmas in Germany” Dep’t: the Feuerzangenbowle

by Diane Duane
The Feuerzangerbowle lady gets ready to torch a booze=soaked sugar cube

…or, “You’ll Burn Your Bangs / Fringe Off”

So there’s this drink. It’s mulled wine augmented (a kind word) with flamed overproof spirit, usually rum.

…Okay, wait. A moment’s worth of scene-setting is called for.

So it’s 2014, and we’re in the Münich area for the Christmas periodsomething that for some time we’d been planning to do when we had enough money: and that year, we did. After a night or two spent in Münich proper and touching base with some friends / business acquaintances, we headed off to the nearby ancient university city of Augsburg to spend Christmas there. As do many other German cities, Augsburg has a very nice Christmas marketthe Christkindlesmarktand we spent a happy pre-lunch and post-lunch hour there picking up some small presents for friends and family, and (as one does, if so inclined) visiting the local food and drink stalls.

A stall we’d never seen elsewhere was one selling Feuerzangenbowle. We looked on in wonder for a while, and Peter (having recently acquired a new lens for his camera, and a powerful new camera-dedicated flash) started taking some photos.

By a truly magical bit of timingand also by dint of being really good with his camerahe managed to get this shot of the lady in the Feuerzangenbowle stall dosing the sugar cubes sitting on the cups’ little built-in tongs (that’s the –zange– part of the word) just before setting them on fire. (In her right hand she’s holding the device with which she’ll torch them.)

The Feuerzangebowle ladt

So after he had the camera put away again, P. ordered one for himself (I was then standing off to one side drinking glühwein, less dramatic but also potentially much less angst-ridden) and brought it back. “Oooh,” he said, “smell that, isn’t that lovely, smell the sugar caramelizing…” And I bent over to take a sniff.

And suddenly we could both smell something that WAS NOT SUGAR CARAMELIZING wut wut WUT WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE TO ME NOW  MORWOOD?!

So after the excitement (and the flames) die down, my bangs are only missing a LITTLE bit on the right side. “Oh look, that just crumbled right off, you’re fine,” says the Helpful Voice, while the Helpful Fingers brush at me. (Note to self: Alcohol flames are usually colorless and well-nigh invisible. Alcohol flames are usually colorless and well-nigh invisible. ALCOHOL FLAMES FUCK FUCK FUCK oh well I have a haircut scheduled after the New Year anyway…)

…Seriously, it’s okay. I’m fine. But make a note for yourself:  DO NOT LEAN OVER THE DAMN FEUERZANGENBOWLE until the flames have GONE OUT.


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