I call my mom in Kansas City around the same time every day, a ritual we’ve developed over the past four years to bridge the 1,500 mile distance and time zone change between us. Our daily conversations are often bookended by her concerns about my well-being. “Are you eating enough? Make sure you’re getting enough sleep!”
Lately, perhaps with my own graduation looming, her words during our check-ins have become more wistful, even a little apologetic. “I wish I could have given you more experiences. I wish I could have taken you around the world,” she said to me recently.
Her remarks aren’t warranted. What I lacked in vacations to unfamiliar places was made up in frequent trips to local museums, galleries and libraries. Even now, I feel perfectly content with my childhood experiences, though I look forward to filling out my passport with an abundance of different stamps in the future.
But, without fail, she will then paint a picture of a trip we will take to Prague, Czech Republic. Just like the fascination Paris holds over me, Prague has the same effect on my mom. She describes a city soaked in rich history, with its distinctive baroque architecture and medieval Astronomical Clock and Old Town Square. Even the modern buildings pay an homage to the Prague’s foundations with inspirational reverence. Through seeking and parsing through any information she can get on the city, my mom’s conclusion is that mystique and magic occupy every corner of the stone-lined streets. Seeing this through her wanderlust lens, I can’t help but feel a little bit moony as well.
When soundbites of our daily dialogue played through my mind earlier this week while I was in line at Wurstküche, I dismissed it as random and nothing significant. The anticipation of going home before break always makes me miss the Midwest more than usual.
Upon closer look, however, whispers of eastern European influence preside over the restaurant. The location in the Art District might wrap Wurstküche in modern eccentricity, but the deep mahogany wood decor enveloping the restaurant is a nod to Luxembourg Bohemia.
This is the case for Wurstküche’s menu as well. I sat down at the restaurant’s communal-style dining benches with the kielbasa, a Polish pork and beef sausage dressed with onions and mustard. With side order of twice-fried fries complemented by the cheese and walnut dipping sauce, the only thing to complete my spread was the fruli ale, a Belgian strawberry beer. The experience may not have been strictly Praguer, but the restaurant paid homage to the city’s traditional atmosphere.
In typical L.A. fusion fashion, and staying true to the Arts District’s tendencies to experiment, there are out-of-the-ordinary menu items labeled “exotic.” I wasn’t brave enough to try the rattlesnake and rabbit or the pheasant options, but my friends said these items had a delectable gaminess. The owners of the restaurant weren’t shy with their “gourmet” editions either — other intriguing menu options included the Austin blues and mango jalapeno sausages.
Los Angeles, specifically my time at Wurstküche, helped me see the poetry in my mom’s vision. It’s essential to make the most of your surroundings, but it’s even more important to actually carry out an obscure dream.
During that call to my mom that night, I thanked her for all she had done for me over the years, optimizing the resources around her to expand my horizons. When she started apologizing again, I told her we should finally make concrete plans to go to Prague. Now, it’s looking like our passports will feature one more stamp come this summer.
Danni Wang is a senior majoring in psychology. She is also the associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column “Abroad at Home,” ran every other Wednesday.