Margaret, the corporate relo gal from Basel by way of Scotland, takes us around the city to see neighborhoods and apartments. But more interesting to me is that I learn Basel is bordered by Germany and France, each about 15 minutes away from the city center. It’s like the part of the US where four states come together and you can get an appendage in each. Margaret’s advice: Buy meat in Germany and get your dry cleaning done in France.
The meat thing is about Switzerland having all those damn cows and, I guess, having the cows stand in for their national identity. It’s like our eagle, an equally shameful thing to slaughter. But eagle meat is extremely tough and gamey and yields a low meat-to-bones ratio. And cows are just delicious. Switzerland never adopted the slaughter as factory model prevalent in the US, so their meat is extremely expensive and sadly, not so tasty. Cow is milk here, not meat.
But Germany, well, we know about Germans. They like their cars big and fucking fast and extremely well engineered, and their meat every-which-way. This is a nation that has never found a creature they couldn’t turn into sausage, steak, burgers, cold cuts and whatever category wienerschnitzel falls into. The Eskimos have a thousand words for snow, the Germans have 2,000 words for bloody dead flesh and they all translate as “delicious.” So Germany is the place to get your meat. Fun fact: You can only bring in 10 kilos of meat per person per day into Switzerland. And, yes, this explicitly does include donkey meat. Word to the wise: Do not bring a slow or trusting pet into Germany. And if you should get sick there, do not in any way smell delicious.
Why dry cleaning should be cheap in France I do not know. Except it is a nation that really does the fashion thing well and I am guessing has more lovely clothes per individual than any other nation and thus needs dry cleaning more often. So supply/demand, prices come down. It’s why there’s a nail place on every corner of Manhattan and it is cheaper to get a mani-pedi in NYC than the surrounding suburbs.
Jessica immediately latched onto the Ken picking up the dry cleaning in France idea. And I was thoroughly amused. Because in Brookline, where we still live, I am charged with dropping off the dry cleaning. Because, as Jessica points out, it is on my way to work. But it never happens, because while I do indeed pass the dry cleaner while walking to work, it is on the other side of the street. Which means crossing four lanes of traffic and over T tracks. Twice. Thus adding 15 minutes to my morning routine. I am generally already late by 30 minutes, so this is a non-starter.
So now she thinks I’m going to go out of my way to a different country for the dry cleaning? When I start wearing a striped shirt, beret, smoke Gitanes and stop showering. Here’s the thing: I look terrible in stripes and hats, get sick from second-hand smoke and live to let hot water cascade over my naked body. Note to Jessica: Wrinkle-free fabrics.