Articles

How My Bout With Cancer Made Me Stronger (So Far…..)

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April 2018:
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The phone is ringing, I pick up, my Otolaryngologist is on the other end.
(A bad sign right there – when does your doctor ever call you personally?)
This was the conversation:

Doctor:                  “Good day, Mr Susser, we received the test results”
Me:                        “God afternoon Doctor. Is it Cancer?”
Doctor:                  “Unfortunately, yes”
Me:                        “That’s what I thought. What’s going to happen now?”
Doctor:                  ”I need you to come to my office.
– Let my assistant give you the time and date;
– Please stay on the line, I’ll connect you”
Me:                         “Thank you doctor for calling me”
Doctor:                  “You are welcome. Good afternoon”

Wow, that was not at all how the movies and our imagination have us believe the doctors will reveal “The Big C” to us, which goes something like this:

You see the doctor in his private, well-appointed office, (all deep dark leather furniture, brass accents and tasteful art on the wall).
The doctor sits on the edge of his desk close to you, talking with a somber, kind and soothing voice :

– “Hans, can I offer you a glass of water” (or an old scotch)
– “Hans, I have not-so good news”.
– “The test revealed that the lump is cancerous”
– “But, Hans, don’t despair and don’t give up hope, we will go through this together”
– “Do you need a minute alone?”
– “Are you ok to drive home alone?”
– “Do you want me to call someone?”
– “Pls call me ANYTIME, here is my cellphone #”
– Go home now and be assured, together we will do everything in our power to solve this”

Nope.  That’s the movies !
While this might still play out for you if you have the same doctor for 30 years and live in perfect Lala Land, the fact is that 1000’s of people are diagnosed with cancer every day, so the real world looks a lot more unsparing and cold then one would hope for in a crappy moment like this.

In my humble opinion, the most important thing when you get hit with the bomb shell, is the following:

If you want to stay sane and live as well as possible after getting the news, don’t think you suffer from something that is uniquely unfair and brutal to you.
Millions of others share the same burden.
Don’t give up on life, don’t think this is the end of it !  (It may be – but most likely it is NOT !”
Rather, be positive, and you’ll probably find out that you can be stronger than you ever thought you could be in such a miserable situation.
Without a doubt, Cancer is a monster punch in the guts, most likely one of the worst in your entire life, but with some luck and all the strength you can muster, you might walk away from it – at least for some extension of  your life, which you can use to learn how to deal with the situation ahead, support your loved ones who will suffer tremendously with this reality they must share, but ultimately, enjoy the bonus time you have been given, by your God, your doctors, your own strength and a bit of luck.

Since so many people suffer from this unfortunate and horrible disease, research and treatment has advanced in huge leaps in the past few years, and chances of recovery have improved accordingly.

As for my own situation, here is what happened so far:

My first break was that the cancer had not yet spread from my tongue and throat to other areas of my body when I got my first  PET Scan, so chances of my healing are promising.
My second break was my strong believe and trust in God. (I do not believe in religion at all, but God is with me every step of my life. I pray daily and I trust God absolutely.
My faith in Him gives me great power and tranquility in difficult situations like the one at hand.
My third break was that I have my beloved Bella on my side, who always keeps me going, no matter how bad things get and no matter what stones lay in our path.
My fourth break was that I live close to what many consider one of the very best cancer clinics in the land, the Memorial West Cancer Institute in Pembroke Pines, Florida, where I received all treatment.
My fifth break was the utmost professionalism of the gracious radiation technicians and chemo nurses who made me feel comfortable, relaxed and as if I was singularly very special and not one of the many patients they help every single day.
My sixth break was that I have the best, most capable, utmost professional, friendly, warm sympathetic, caring and all-around great doctors I could have wished for, in both my Medical Oncologist, Dr Gelenis Domingo, who is super friendly, caring and professional, as well as my Radiation Oncologist, Dr Michael Burdick.
Incredibly for me, from the very moment I met both these doctors, I felt a special optimism and trust in them to provide me with the very best care possible.
Both doctors made me feel as if I am their most important patient, always supportive, ready to listen whenever I had a doubt, never making me feel as if we were running out of time during a conversation, and both helped me enormously to stay positive 99.9 % of the time during my treatment.
On top of that, Dr Burdick is also the most down to earth and approachable doctor I have ever  met.
Now guess, do I love my doctors ? 😊

Actually, ALL the people I came in contact with at the clinic –  volunteers, front desk staff, nurses, Oncology Nurses, Radiation Technicians and everybody else at the clinic were wonderful and superbly kind and professional.
Even the Department Director who took the time out of his surely busy day to contact me about a small issue I had, could not have been more caring, courteous and friendly.
My Gratitude and Love to all the Staff, Doctors and Management at  Memorial West Cancer Institute !
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But then,  there were the not so positive sides of the coin.

Badly burned skin around the area of the radiation, resulting in strong pain.
Badly burned throat, resulting in tremendous pain and making it impossible for months to eat solid food, or drinking anything else than plain, lukewarm water. Thank you dear morphine, to help me be able to get through this without going bonkers !
General loss of muscle mass, resulting in (so far) permanent fatigue and weakness.
Horrible skin problems, which have started to heal slowly (Imagine having the worst possible sunburn on a large percentage of your body, not just at the area that has been burned by the radiation, but all over the body. At first, it was just bright red, then itching so bad I had to take strong medicine to handle it and get a bit of sleep at night. Then, the skin peeling off in hand-sized patches, leaving small parts of exposed flesh, which sting like bees when I take a shower.
Permanent hair loss on most of the area where I proudly sported a beard for 40 years. (Still vain after all these years). 😊
However, thankfully, these and a few other small things were the only negative symptoms so far.
Knowing how much more many other cancer patients suffer, not only from cancer itself, but also (mostly?) from radiation and chemo, I consider myself very lucky to have suffered relatively little so far.
Yes, I do consider myself lucky !
After all, I was 65 years old when this started and have lived a blessed, eventful, interesting, exiting and mostly wonderful life.
Some people get hit by this when much younger, some even when still in their childhood. So who am I to complain about my misfortune ? !

But, I also must pat my own back, for being strong and positive during this (ongoing) ordeal, which at times was not an easy task to accomplish.

As my friends know, I live alone with my dog Bella.
When you love somebody, be it a person or an animal, you make sure that you do everything in your power to ensure the well-being of that person or animal, even if you are nearly too weak or in too much pain to even move.
In Bella’s case, she needs to be fed once a day, get a snack 4 times a day, she needs to go for a long walk (30/45 minutes minimum) at least twice a day and for a few more short walks at least three times a day.

And then, there is taking care of myself.

– During treatment, just getting up in the morning was often the first high hurdle.
– Taking a shower can be tricky when you tend to lose your balance due to all the med’s.
– Then on to make the bed daily and changing the linens often.
– Preparing meals from scratch almost daily, usually a pureed vegetable soup or fruit soup, once a day to last for a few small meals during the whole day.
– Driving and shopping for necessities.
– Driving to and from treatment.
– Cleaning the apartment between the cleaning ladies’ visits.  (Those of you who know me, my place is always spick and span, even when sick as a dog,)
There are of course many more chores one must complete daily. Under normal circumstances, we do these chores almost automatically and with none or minimum effort. However, while being in treatment and for a certain time afterwards (usually a few months), these chores can become hard to navigate obstacles, which require a strong will, digging very deep into one’s own motivation and the will to survive, requiring a constant effort to overcome the adversaries of daily life.

Of course, I do have friends and neighbors who offered help (most of them obviously hoping that I will decline), but I am grateful that I also have a few genuine and generous friends, whose offers of help were frequent, heartfelt and real.
(Thank you, Dieter and Chacha, Curtis and Ana, Gaby and Ralf, Peter and the entire Ayala Family).
Actually, one friend flew-in all the way from Germany for a few days, just to make sure I can cope.
(Thanks again, Heiner)

Despite all the offers, I mostly declined any help from everybody, for two reasons:
– First – that’s just the way I am. I prefer to give, rather than to take, unless there is no other option.
– Second – I pride myself to have enormous self-discipline in most tough situations, and therefore be able to pull myself out of trouble, most of the time.
(However, I am a mushy softie when it comes to people who do me wrong and whom I will forgive anyway – I do need to improve my self-discipline a bit in that area).

In a nutshell, my reason to decline help during this ordeal was that if I would give in easily and get soft on myself when things get tough, I would start to depend on others. As a result, I’d become weak and suffer even more, all else being equal.

As for my relationships with people, most “Friends” and even some family with whom I had steady contact for 20, 30 or even 40 years, did not make the tiny effort to contact me and try to lift-up my state of mind a bit by just periodically having a chat.
Mind you, I am not sad, upset or disappointed about this, after all, I am old enough to realize that most folks are too consumed with their own life to give a hood about others. I learned that early on in life, being generous and getting very little or nothing in return (physically, materialistically and mentally).
In the past, I nearly always was the one who toke the first step and kept relationships alive, by calling, skype, writing or visiting. (Of course there were a few exceptions of the norm).

When my beloved wife Maria was still alive and we lived in the big house by the lake, when we threw huge parties with life bands and disc jockeys at least once a month and sometimes twice, when there was an abundance of food and drinks (and some of the good stuff to smoke) for all to indulge-in freely, when we opened our house for whole families to spend their vacations (some even brought friends along), of course THEN people were eager to show up at the door, there was a never-ending supply of “friends” and the phone would not stop ringing.
But once that ended and especially now after cancer knocked…….. deafening silence.
Whereas before I would forgive and forget and say I love you anyway, in the future I refuse to waste my time with “friends” who are just drinking and eating buddies, ready to have a freebie but otherwise just occupy space in my head, my heart and in my wallet.
Of course I realized most of this in the past, and Maria and some of my real friends pointed that out to me often, but I was too forgiving and let them take advantage of our generosity.
Well then, good riddance to those “friends. (I needed a bit of venting here, sorry.…..) 😊

But there is a silver lining after all !
Instead being influenced negatively by all of this, I welcome the experience and its lesson, because even this has made me tougher now, when I need it most.

By now you probably ask yourself – what the heck has all that to do with cancer ???

Well, let me explain. When you sit at home alone for months and don’t know if this is the end of your life, you tend to think about these otherwise unimportant things, trying to figure out how much of your life you wasted – wasted with what, wasted with whom, and how to proceed if cancer does not win this battle.
Once I realized that I will not waste my time and my energy with fake friends and their lack of compassion anymore,  my mind was freed from lots of useless baggage.
This influenced my positive outlook and made me a stronger person, realizing that life is too short to spend wasting on petty people and trivial stuff, but that from here on I must concentrate more on the folks and things that really matter in my life.
The realization of all this helped me gain much focus and mental strength, to fight cancer with all the energy I can muster.
For myself, every bit helps, both physically and mentally.
While I have seen many people break psychologically from cancer, so far it has made me mentally stronger, which is all that counts right now.
I will do my best to get even stronger as time goes by, both mentally and physically.

                                                                                Life is Good !
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August 2018:
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While my chemo and radiation have run their course for now, it will take another two months until I find out if the treatment was successful and if I am cancer free.
(My next PET Scan is scheduled for the middle of October)
But, even if declared cancer free then, the cancer can return any time and regular check-ups will be necessary every three months, for the duration of five years.
Only then will the cancer be declared completely defeated.
In the meantime, and no matter what the outcome may be, I intend to enjoy life with all I’ve got.

 

 

                                                                             As for my future ,
                                                                     I’ll See, I Hope, and I Pray!

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P.S.
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Friends, please know that I don’t feel sorry for myself, on the contrary, I feel blessed.
The reason I want to share my story is to give people in the same or similar situation hope and motivation, to be strong and get themselfes and their loved ones out of a depression and hoplessness from which they might suffer.
As I said above, I believe every bit helps.
I hope that folks who read it pass it on through their own social network, instead of thinking:
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“If it does not touch me, it does not concern me”
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Below are a few pic’s to illustrate my journey so far:

 

 

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A short Time before it all started

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Bella
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Bella

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Daily Treatment                                                Daily Treatment
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My new look. I kind of like my goatee 😊

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And there you have it!

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So here Is My Excuse……..

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Bella & Hans

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Dear Friends,
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I would like to keep you informed for the reason I don’t post regularly anymore.
As I mentioned some time ago, I will not post as many recipes and articles as usual, cutting down from an average of about ten posts a month to maybe two or three. This will go on for anywhere from three Months to maybe 6 months.
The main reason for this “slacking” is my health. I am in a brutal healing and recovery period, during which time, on most days, I am too weak to cook, not able to swallow solid food and I will have no sense of taste.
As you might can imagine, because of this,  blogging will be nearly impossible for me during the majority of the time. However, I can promise that if and as soon as my health improves, ChefsOpinion will be back in full force.
At this point, I rather not reveal or discuss my illness.
My doctors assure me of a high probability that within the year, I’ll be back in the saddle 🙂
So, if you thought that the reason for the decreasing frequency of my posts is that I have lost interest in publishing ChefsOpinion, please know that this is not the case.
I am looking forward to a regular schedule of posts, two to three times a week, in the near future 🙂
Meanwhile, most of the posts on ChefsOpinion will be formerly unpublished recipes/picture I prepared during the past eight months.
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Life is Good !
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P.S.
There are about 1400 recipes on ChefsOpinion, so I suggest at this time, if you need some culinary inspiration, you might explore what you have missed in the past 🙂
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To select a dish by Picture, click here for all dishes on ChefsOpininon 
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To select a dish by Chronology, click here for all dishes on ChefsOpininon 

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Nicaragua – A Tooth Story

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Dear Friends,
This post is not about food or restaurants or other culinary related Items you’d usually expect to find on ChefsOpinion.
(It might inspire you to save big bucks next time you need extensive dental work (cosmetic) which the insurance does not cover).
Rather, it is about my one week trip to Managua / Nicaragua and the reason I undertook that trip, which was entirely Dental-related.
First of all, let me explain why I chose Nicaragua of all places to have extensive dental work done.
My best friend Dieters wife , Chacha, was born and partially raised in Nicaragua. About two years ago Dieter had an accident which knocked out some of his teeth, requiring implants to replace them. Chacha’s family, which in part still resides in Nicaragua has this great dentist to which they entrust all their dental requirements, so Dieter decided to check it out. After all was said and done, Dieter was extremely happy with the results and recommended I should go there if ever I needed major dental work. It is now nearly two and a half years later, and still dieter is totally satisfied, his Miami dentist even complimented on the work done 🙂 .
(When I talked to the doc, I found out that most of he’s patients are actually flying-in from the USA and Canada). The clinic is very well-appointed, super clean, super modern and very comfortable, with another onside dentist, numerous staff and an assortment of treatment rooms.)
Low and behold, two years after Dieter had his teeth fixed, I needed similar work done as he had, so I started inquiring about quality and cost in Miami, Germany and Hungary. I needed three implants, 5 crowns, deep cleaning and whitening. (I had the necessary bone graft done 6 months earlier in Miami)
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Total estimate by my Miami dentist:  $ 18,000.00
Total estimate by various German dentists:  $ 18,000.00
Total estimate by some Hungarian dentists:  $ 9,000.00
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Total cost by my Nicaraguan  dentist:  $ 3,200.00
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Add to this the price of the airline ticket $ 350.00, as well as one week in a great Bed & Breakfast, including chauffeur for the week which all amounted to $ 300.00, and the total cost was just under $ 4,000.00 compared to at least $ 18,000.00 to 20,000.00 in Miami.
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So then, on to the trip.
Because of the short duration of the flight between Ft Lauderdale and Managua, which takes a little more than two hours, I chose Spirit Airline, because before you can get uncomfortable, you will have arrived already. Plus, I splurged, as I usually do, on extra-large seats and leg room. On this flight it was only additional $ 40.00 each way, so no big deal.
To my surprise, on spirit and on this plane, the extra space are the first two rows at the front entrance. These were actually the original first class seats (Just four of them), so this was the best bargain I ever scored on any flight in my forty-five years of air travel.
We departed Ft Lauderdale at 1:30 am for our short hop to Nicaragua
Upon arrival in Managua International Airport, Maria, the owner of the B&B I was staying at, and her two son’s picked me up. I finally got to sleep at around 5:00 am local time, just a few hour before my first appointment at 9:00 am. The Doc worked on me that morning (Friday) for about three hours (Deep cleaning and drilling the holes into the jaw for the implants), 3 hours on Saturday (upper row, two crowns and first half of the bleaching)  and 3 hours on Monday (lower row, second half of bleaching and setting three crowns.
And that was it – all done ! 🙂
My flight home was Thursday night around midnight.
When I planned the trip, I assumed that the dentist would check what needed to be done on Friday, then I would have had Saturday and Sunday to explore the culinary riches of Nicaragua.
Well, that did not happen. Here is my menu for the week (All white food and drink because of the bleaching, and soft because of the implants and stitches in the gums:
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Friday – Great breakfast before the first dentist appointment,
– afterwards, milk water, potato soup
Saturday – milk, water, small pieces of croissants
Sunday – milk, water, chicken broth with soft small pasta
Monday – milk, water, small pieces of croissants
Tuesday – milk, water, poached fish, mashed cauliflower, rice
Wednesday – milk, water, chicken broth with soft small pasta
Thursday – milk, water, small pieces of croissants and plain bread
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Back in Miami, another week with only white food and drinks, then slowly back to normal 🙂
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My impressions of Nicaragua were 100 % positive. A wonderful country with wonderful people,  clean, friendly and organized, with a population of mostly well-mannered, friendly, clean and organized people. However, the day I left we passed by a street demonstration, which at the time seemed nothing to worry about.
Next day at home I saw in the news what happened and I felt sad and disappointed that, as usual and in so many countries, a few bad apples can upset the freedom and well-being of its people in an otherwise wonderful country such as Nicaragua 😦
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I hope things will settle down quickly and I can return to see more of this beautiful country and have the opportunity to get to know its cuisine 🙂
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Before and after :
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Ma Man, with his Assistant :
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Maria, her Son’s, her B&B and her “Taxi” :
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On Tuesday, I cooked a meal for us ;
Sautéed snapper fillet, cauliflower salad and rice 😦 . See above)
However, for myself,  (white food only)  I prepped the fish poached and the cauliflower mashed 😦 . See below)
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And here is my main nutrition for the duration of my trip 😦  :
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Some random impressions of Managua, Granada and Masaya;
(There is not much tourism, so these are not some show-off places and locations, but rather this is how the country, its cities and attraction for its own folks look like 🙂 :
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Aaaand, back to Miami.
I hope I’ll be back soon to explore all I have missed in this great place this time 🙂
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All Good things Will Come To An End (Eventually……….)

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Linus: Nothing goes on forever. All good things must come to an end.
Charlie: When do the good things start ?

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Dear Friends of ChefsOpinion,
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After Posting 1245 posts on ChefsOpinion, I have decided that it is finally time to slowly but surely hang up my apron and put away my pen.
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Just before I fully retired last year (I partially retired a couple of years earlier and only worked a few days a week during the last two years of my professional life), my health has deteriorated to the point where producing this blog has become a chore instead of the pure joy it was for many years.
Also, when I started doing this  (before I started ChefsOpinion, I owned and ran a culinary/hospitality website together with my wife Maria before she passed away), there was much greater interest in culinary sites/blogs than there is now, and if you have been following different blogs and sites, you’ll know that a great many have given up long ago, as public interest has shifted from real food to more sensationalistic and bombastic topics within the food world, rather than embracing beautiful, rich tasting food in general. At the same time, in a world where there are more and more Chicken Wing Festivals, Burger Festivals and other such “Food Festivals” glorifying fast food of often questionable quality, real food, real cooking, love for proper food and the joy of lovingly preparing a wonderful meal from scratch has mostly disappeared in many homes, blogs like ChefsOpinion have mostly given way to commercial websites. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles and bloggers like me will have to accept the fact that nothing goes on forever, especially not blogs about “Real Food”  🙂
At the hight of ChefsOpinion’s popularity, there were usually between 500 and 1000 clicks a day from direct subscribers alone, and about another 200 to 500 from other links, such as Foodspotting, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc. This has shifted to a point were ChefsOpinion directly now gets about 100 to 300 clicks a day, while LinkedIn accounts to anywhere from 400 to 2000 clicks and other links about another 100 to 200 per day for ChefsOpinion.
While any clicks are satisfying, the only ones that are counted for (a tiny) monetary reward are the ones from direct ChefOpinion subscribers “IF” they click on an advertisement, which means although ChefsOpinion still gets a total of about 20000 to 30000 visits a month, the financial reward has dwindled to a point where ChefsOpinion is barely financially self-sustaining.
From the very beginning, I did not run ChefsOpinion for monetary gain but welcomed the fact that the single advertisement I allowed on my blog was covering at least the cost of running it. To run ChefsOpinion costs about $500.00 per month. Lately, I have to finance this more and more from my own pocket. This was fine as long as I enjoyed doing the work involved, which amounts to at least about 3-4 hours a day.
But when I realized that while most folks enjoy the pics and recipes, the inspiration and the stories, I also realized that most folks, after a while, don’t appreciate stuff they can get for free, so even a split-second effort to click the “like” button is too much of an effort for most readers to reward the work and money spent for ChefsOpinion. (Of course, there are exceptions – you know who you are 🙂 .
So, I have decided to let ChefsOpinion come to a slow but steady end. At this point, I have about 100 Posts on standby, with the photos all done but awaiting the writing of the recipes. I will do this in the weeks and months to come, at a leisurely pace and with no false sense of urgency. I might even add a few new pics and recipes, mainly for my own pleasure and the pleasure of a few diehard fans of ChefsOpinion.
I want to thank all the folks who have stayed with ChefsOpinion over the years and want you all to know how much I enjoyed being part of your culinary life.
ChefsOpinion will stay online for the time being, so if anyone is still looking for inspiration from “Real Food and Real Opinions”, there will still be posts of the past to draw from.
For now, this is not yet a goodbye, but rather notice that ChefsOpinion will not be updated as frequently as it has in the past and eventually, in the near future, will cease to exist.
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Life is Good !
Hans 🙂
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My Trip To Buenos Aires, Argentina

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On December 19th 2017, after eighteen years of absence, I finally returned to Argentina to spend a month with my “adopted family” and friends in Buenos Aires, where I lived and worked for nearly five years during the nineties.
I visited Buenos Aires for the first time in the seventies and had an immediate affection for the city, the country, the people and the great food.
Great food in Argentina means mostly meat, pasta, empanadas and salad, although modern public relations, foodies hype, young wannabe food stars and wannabe food critics will try to have you think otherwise. Granted, there is a small (very small) movement to make modern? Argentinian cuisine play a role in the world of modern food, but in reality, it is just a tiny movement, confined to very few, mostly insignificant restaurants in the big cities.
On the other hand, traditional food is as good or even better as it ever was 😊
Argentinian meat, especially beef, is legendary around the world, and pork, lamb, and poultry are not far behind.
Pasta is second only to what you find in the best kitchens in Italy, Argentine empanadas are second to none, and yes, even the salads are in a class of their own, thanks to the fact that most produce you’ll find in either small groceries or big markets, in small villages or big cities, usually travels only a few miles from down the road, having been harvested that very morning from some local farmers vegetable patch. Same with all fresh food ingredients, eggs, cheese, fruit, etc, and of course most meat that’s available to you either in a shop or restaurant; most of it is local, never frozen, and as fresh as can be.
After one month, I have a books-worth of impressions of Buenos Aires and Argentina. However, I have decided that I will not say anything negative about this country I love so much. Argentina and its people have a lot of bad crap to deal with, but most of this information is readily available elsewhere to the folks who are interested in it, so there is no need for me to wallow in it on my blog.
On the positive side, I am happy to report that the majority of all people of Argentina are extremely friendly, generous, loving, big-hearted and the most gracious host’s one could wish for. They make the most of what they have, and friends and family is their greatest treasure. After the month I spent this time, it was hard for me to leave my friends and Family behind and I hope we will all reunite soon again 😊
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Click here to read  “All About Argentina”

 

Here are some random pictures of the beauty of this country.
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Click here for many more  Beautiful Vistas Of     “Argentina”

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Click here for more  Beautiful Vistas Of    “Buenos Aires”
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First Day Welcome Dinner .
Dinner with my “Family”: Carlos, Gladis, Dana, Lara, and Jorge, at a great Parrilla restaurant in Ezeiza, just outside of Buenos Aires

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Of course, on Christmas and on New Year’s Eve, which we celebrated with just a few close members of the family at the house, the featured main attraction was, what else, Asado (parrilla).
There were also many other “goodies”, such as hors d’oeuvres, salads, pasta, empanadas, artisanal cheese, cakes, pudding, bread, etc, all in great varieties and all very delicious.
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Another dinner, another Asado (parrilla), this time in the Argentinian countryside. This was on January 3rd. Of course, right after the Holidays, not many folks spend money in restaurants, also it was pretty early, about 8.30 PM, which is too early to have dinner for most Argentinians, so we had the place to ourselves.
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Dana, Carlos’ and Gladis’ younger daughter loves to prepare gnocchi and on this day she came to the house early to prepare lunch for us (early lunch – ca 3.30 PM) ………..
! Best ! gnocchi I ever had 😊

Auntie, Gladis, me, Dana

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My farewell dinner was combined with the birthday party of a family member. There were family and friends, monstrous platters of food (we all ordered a la carte) many bottles of red wine and a great party. (Below is a link to the FB site of this restaurant).
Do yourself a favor when you visit Buenos Aires – visit this place for at least one dinner, it will be well worth your time 😊
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Yes, this is one portion ! All Mine. 🙂 Each of the platters of food below contains one single portion !

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Click here for a link to the restaurants FB Page
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Before I started my trip, I made it clear to Carlos and the family that I was not keen to travel around at all. Because I lived in Buenos Aires for so long, there was not really much I hadn’t seen while I was there, so there was no great lure for me to spend my days traveling. The traffic is usually horrendous in and around Buenos Aires and it was also way too hot to spend hours on the road. Outside of Buenos Aires, many roads are not paved, so when it has not rained for a while, the dust in the air is brutal.
I just wanted to visit Recoleta, where Maria and I rented a wonderful Apartment while we lived in BA. This is by far the nicest and most beautiful part of the city, and the cost of living is accordingly. (Twenty years ago, our apartments rent was about US $ 3500.00 a month, which should give you an idea about the exclusivity of Recoletta.
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   A short video of our street…..
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Click here for more impressions of Recoleta
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So, during my month there, we stayed mostly at home, had great conversations, played with the animals, enjoyed too much great food and too much great wine and other great spirits. Lots of milanesas, pasta, beef, fiambres, empanadas, salads and what not.
Never a dull moment, lots of happiness and love in the air.
Aaahhhhh, the good life 😊
(And yes, I gained twenty pounds ! Dammmn ! )
– I am in the progress of shedding those extra pounds now, but it’s not as fun and easy as putting them on. I also still carry a few extra pounds from September/October, when I enjoyed the same excesses in Germany and Spain) ☹
Life can be soooo tough !
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Even the housing for the dead is exclusive in Recoleta……….(Eva Peron resides here…..
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The other side……………
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The Family…
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More Family…..
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The House (La Casa)
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The Guest House (La Casita)
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And there you have it – four weeks Argentina.
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On my way back to Miami……….
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Life is Good !
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Happy Holidays To All Friends Of ChefsOpinion, Bella And Hans

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Dear Friends, 

As 2017 draws to a close I would like to thank you all for the
time you have spent with me on ChefsOpinion during this eventful 2017.

I wish everyone the most Happy Holidays,
and a healthy, wonderful and prosperous 2018,
filled with love and blessings.

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The best wishes from Bella and me to all of you,

Hans Susser
(Soupi)
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God Bless
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My Trip To Germany And Spain

New Car

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Dear Friends,
Here is a short report of my trip to Germany and Spain, which lasted from September 13th to October 13th.
When I planned the trip, I made a huge mistake by not booking a direct flight to Cologne. The original plan was to fly to Munich, rent a car there and travel in style and comfort with a rented Beamer to Cologne, while visiting friends along the way. Well, it did not go that way………
The first company I booked with tried to scam me out of $450, which took about a week to sort out. Eventually, I got my money back but still did not have a car one week before my trip started.
I then booked another car with another company. Renting a car with automatic transmission and a/c proved to be much more expensive than anticipated, but eventually, I found a great deal for another Beamer for $850 for one month. The only problem – if you want to be 100% insured for all eventualities, the additional insurance for one month runs nearly $1700, so that the total would have been about $2500 for one month. I know that one is supposed to NOT buy the additional insurance since one has coverage with one’s credit card. But I did not want to take the risk to be liable for thousands of $’s in damages if something major would have happened, so the risk was greater than I was willing to accept. Instead, I decided that it would make more sense to buy a car once I get there, since I want to move to Germany anyway next year.
I was not able to find a flight from Munich to Cologne (my main-stop on this trip), so I decided to take the train instead.
I left Ft Lauderdale for my first stop, Philly (2 hours), where I had a 3-hour layover. Then on to Munich (8 hours), where I took the Lufthansa bus to the train station (1 hour). 3 hours later, my train left for the 5 hour trip to Cologne. (Total travel time – 22 hours !)
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Arrival……..

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I arrived beaten, tired and hungry, but to a very warm welcome by my friends Gaby and Ralf, who had a lovely apartment waiting for me to use free of charge during my stay.
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first dinner in Cologne – schnitzel and spaezle- what else….

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The next day, Gaby asked me if I want to join her and Ralf for a short trip to Spain, where they own a beautiful villa by the sea. Of course, I said yes, so off we went for a long weekend in Mallorca. Spain is everything I remembered from trips I took there many years ago – wonderful people, great food, perfect weather; everything is just beautiful. We had great bbq’s at home and superb dinners by the beach, paella, seafood, wine, company………ahhhh 🙂
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Gaby and Ralf, breakfast

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do as the tourists do…….

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view from my bedroom

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my bedroom – handmade lace – what else…….

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Ralf and I…..

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YEP……

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ham-paradise

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where I want to spend eternity…..

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the very best Morcilla in the whole wide world……

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sorry – forgot to take the pic when the paella arrived……

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Life is Good……..

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Two day’s after returning to Cologne, I bought myself a car and was now ready to visit friends I had not seen in many years.
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First I went to the town of “Adenau” in the “Eifel”, a beautiful mountainous area about 45 minutes from Cologne, where I stayed at the lovely home of my friends Heiner and his charming wife Sigrid. Heiner and I are friends since the early 80’s. We met in Manila in the Philippines, so our memories of that time and place are plentiful, happy and exciting 🙂 .
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Heiner and Sigrid

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Heiner and Sigrid’s home

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view from Heiner and Sigrid’s home of the “Eifel”

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view from Heiner and Sigrid’s home of the “Eifel”

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view from Heiner and Sigrid’s home of the “Eifel”

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old buddies……

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cheers !

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Sigrid and I

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My next stop was Bietigheim-Bissingen, where my friends Albrecht and Heide own a lovely restaurant for 30 years, the very cozy “Kueferstueble”. Albrecht and I worked together about 40 years ago, first on the “Royal Viking Sky”, then at the “Restaurant Ratskeller” in Ludwigsburg.
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Albrecht and Heide

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Heide in front of the “Kueferstueble”

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happy times……

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schweinehaxe mit sauerkraut und kartoffelknoedel

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bier und wein, so soll es sein……..

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After spending 3 nights full of great food, many bottles of tasty wine, and many happy memories, I went on to visit “Gechingen”, the little village in the “Black Forrest where I grew up. There I visited Gisela, the widow of my childhood friend Roland, who left us way too early 10 years ago.
Not much has changed in the 50 years since I left. If anything, Gechingen has become even prettier than I remembered.
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my old school on the left, the old town hall in the center

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the old town hall with my old church in the background

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the church I went to as a kid….

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view from the church….

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my old school

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From Gechingen I took the scenic route through the heart of the “Black Forrest. Starting in “Freudenstadt”, the “Schwarzwaldhochstrasse” stretches about 65 kilometers to its end in Baden Baden”. I took my good time, stopping many times to take in the beautiful views and enjoy the typical specialties in small Inn’s, such as “Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte:, “Schwarzwald Becher”, and for lunch, “Schwaebischer Rostbraten mit Hausgemachten Spaetzle”.
Once I reached Baden Baden, I splurged and spend a night at the “Brenners Parkhotel”. At $600.00 a night, not exactly budget-friendly, but what the heck…… 🙂 .
Next morning, I traveled back up the “Schwarzwaldhochstrasse” to the “Kurhaus Sand”, where I took a right turn down the steep and hairpin-rich road towards “Buehlertal”. This took me past the “Hotel Wiedenfelsen”, where I did my Apprenticeship 50 years earlier.
In Buehlertal I visited my former boss, “Ersatz Father”, and nowadays great friend, Karl Mueller and his lovely wife Uschi.
I did not have their address nor phone number, but I remembered the general area where they live and where I visited them many years ago on my last trip to Germany, when I was accompanied by my wife Maria, who has since passed away.
After asking a few people on the street, I got directed to the house of Karl and Uschi. I rang the bell, which was answered by a man I judged to be my age, so I assumed him to be Karl’s son Markus. I asked him if Karl Mueller lives there. He asked me what I want. I told him my name at which time he remembered me and happily hugged me. Turns out, it was Karl, 82 years old, but looking not a day over 65 🙂 Uschi remembered me right away, and from that moment on, we had a great time remembering times past, a million small things long forgotten but now easily recalled.
That evening we had a great dinner, followed the next day by a wonderful afternoon of conversation, coffee and sweets in a typical “Black Forrest Inn” on the “Scwarzwaldhochstrasse”.
I stayed another day in the “Rebstock” in “Buehlertal”, then took the “Autobahn” from “Baden Baden” back to “Cologne”.
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Karl and Uschi

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“Hotel Rebstock”, Buehlertal

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Karl and I

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Karls’ “Bettflaschen” collection

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a small Inn on the “Schwartzwald Hochstrasse”

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Love those two………..

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one of the restaurants at “Hotel Rebstock”

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maultaschen mit pfifferlingen und kartoffelsalat at the “Rebstock”

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krevetten in oliven oel und knoblauch at the “Rebstock”

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Death-strip – road from/to the house where Karl and Uschi live – two people can walk side by side – with the car, it’s like having a death wish……but, unless you want to walk…..

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view from Karl’s and Uschie’s balcony over “Buehlertal”

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After another week with Gaby and Ralf, filled with huge amounts of food and wine, on October the 13th I took the same horrible journey of 22 hours back to Fort Lauderdale.
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dinner at Gaby’s and Ralf’s home

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daily breakfast spread

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best breakfast dish ever – “Mett” (raw pork)

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And here are a couple of great things you’ll find while traveling on the Autobahn:
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curry wurst mit kartoffelsalat

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the cleanest public bathrooms in the World (you pay 75 cents to get in, when you leave you’ll get back 50 cents. The toilets clean and sanitize themselves mechanically

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Click here to watch the video of the self-cleaning toilet !!!  🙂

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And finally – the craziest thing I encountered during this month :

 

believe it or not – this is an actual schnapps you can buy in bars

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mixdrink- lemonade and “Ficken”

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Yep…..

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and yes, you can smoke in some bars…

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I bet you have not seen one of these for some time in a public space………..

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Conclusion:
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1) Real friends are the best thing in life !
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2) Germany is the best place to retire, assuming you love cold and rainy weather (Which I do) 🙂
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3) In Germany, if you want to eat real Italian food, don’t go to an Italian Restaurant. (It seems that most “Italian” Restaurants in Germany are now run by folks of other  ethnic backgrounds)
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4) Food, in general, is still far better in Germany, especially in traditional German restaurants.
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5) Ethnic restaurants in Germany don’t serve ethnic food 😦 . Just like in most other countries, “Ethnic” food has been adapted to local taste, but in Germany much more so than anywhere else, to the point of being unrecognizable (see # 3)
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6) Everybody should visit Europe at least once, to get a better perspective of life and circumstances in places with strong traditions and immense History.
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7) Life is Good !
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A Sad And Unfortunate Temporary Break For Bella, Myself And ChefsOpinion – (Slowly Getting Better)……

Bella

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Dear Friends,

I am happy to be back, able to post and enjoying to cook, eat and share my humble cuisine with you.
From 9/13th to 10/13th I spent a wonderful month in Germany and Spain, visiting friends and family and having a great time eating and drinking in the company of much-missed friends, most of which I had not seen for many years, as well as making new friends along the way 🙂 .
I also put time to good use to facilitate my return to Germany, where I plan to spend the remainder of my life with good food, good friends and (occassionally) good booze 🙂
I bought a car, started looking for a house, registrered my new address in Germany, etc, etc.
I also spend a long weekend in Spain, where my friends Gaby and Ralf own a Beautiful Spanish villa near the beach.
I had taken many notes and pictures to share my trip with y’all as soon as I’d be back in Miami.
However, the night before I got back, my beloved Bella was attacked and badly mauled by two loose-running rottweilers.
This caused both Bella and I to suffer tremendously, her physically, me psychologically, which eventually morphed into a full-blown breakdown of my well-being.
I was bed-ridden for a week, while trying my best to care for Bella (with the help of two great vet’s 🙂
Well, it has been 10 days now and I am happy to report that both Bella and I are on the way to recovery.
I assume that I am able to start posting my European experience starting this coming week, and that the unfortunate episode of Bellas attack will be but a bad memory soon.
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Hans.
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For those of you who are skirmish DON”T scroll down to the bottom of this page !!!
There are pictures of Bellas wound’s there, to let those of you who can handle this kind of stuff see how badly she had to suffer.
Again, she is (slowly) on her way to recovery, and things should be back to normal soon 🙂
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And, on a lighter note:
When I was sick I did not have the strenght nor the will to cook every day. The first two day’s, I lived off apples and dry  knäckebröd .
However, that did not provide me with the nutrition I needed to get back on my feet, so, during a spell of light improvement of my strength,  I prepared a big pot of what must be the oldest, best-working and best-tasting remedy in the word:
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“Chicken Noodle Soup With Veggies And Egg”.
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After five days of this for both lunch and dinner (apples for breakfast), I am now feeling better and blessed with enough strength to take on my daily chores, including driving Bella to the vet daily, preparing my usual food, and keeping “ChefsOpinion” up to date.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Chicken Noodle Soup With Veggies And Egg

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Chicken Noodle Soup With Veggies And Egg

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Serrano Ham, Morcilla, And A New Car

Dear Friends,

After the most recent hurricane, I have decided beautiful Florida is not for me anymore.
I am currently in Germany to scout for a new place to live. I will spend one month in Germany, a few days in Austria and a few days in Spain (where I am presently at).
Being with friends every day does not afford me to spend much time at the Computer, but I will at least try to show you a few of the “goodies” I encounter along the way 🙂
This morning, breakfast gifted me with the pleasure of eating the tastiest sausage ever, among many other outstanding, beautiful and yummy local products.
Later on, my friends Gaby and Ralf took me to the local market, which had an incredible abundance of local produce, fruits, meats, and seafood.  However, for me, the most outstanding moment came when I found this ham vendor.
Less than $ 20.00 for 1/2 an entire Serrano ham !!!

Aaahhhhh, Life is Good ! 🙂
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Best Sausage – EVER !

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1/2 entire Serrano Ham – Less than $ 20.00 – Paradise 🙂

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My new baby…… 🙂 
Most everything set. Just need to buy a new apartment and I am done. Let the new Life begin …….. 🙂

After Irma…………

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Dear Friends,
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I am happy to report that our power and water just came back, neither Bella nor I have a scratch, both Bella and I need a shower after 1 1/2 day without A/C, otherwise, we are fine 🙂
There was quite some damage around the house but nothing major. As you can see in the pics from just outside our house, even a lesser than Cat 5 hurricane will pack a punch. Down the road from here in Hiatus, for the length of a whole block, the power lines are all down, the poles just snapped and the power lines are all over the street.
Thank you, Lord, and please bless those who got injured, and bless the souls of those who lost their lives.
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I will be back with my regular posts soon.
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Life is Good !
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