Einmal Hans mit scharfer Soße, bitte!

The title of today's post is borrowed from Turkish-German director Buket Alakuş's 2013 film Einmal Hans mit scharfer Soße.  The film is based on Hatice Akyün's autobiographical novel of the same name published in 2005.  This roughly translates to "I'd like a Hans with spicy sauce," as if you were in a restaurant ordering a Döner but instead of wanting the German-Turkish delicacy, you were in fact ordering a German man named Hans who had a little bit of a kick to him.  Both the film director and the author of the novel were born in Turkey but grew up and live in Germany, so they can be considered bi-cultural.  The title plays upon the cultural mix.

Here is why this is important (to me at least): the story is about a woman, who knows what she wants in a partner and refuses to settle for anything less. Although that is not fully the truth, because the main character is a 34-year-old Turkish-German successful career woman, Hatice, living in Hamburg who is pressured by her traditional Muslim family to marry so her younger sisters then can marry as well. So she is technically willing to settle, albeit temporarily, so she can aid her sisters and appease her father. Hatice flirts and drinks and sleeps her way through many men, she even bribes and fools guys into acting as her fiancé, yet never finds her Hans mit scharfer Soße.  She comes close, but ruins her chance with Hans whose actual name is Hannes (but both are short forms of Johannes, so close enough, right?) by being too pushy too soon, even though it was basically love at first sight.  She finally appeals to her father and cleans up the mess she made, realizing in the process that she is happy with her life and if someone does not come along, she is ultimately at peace with that.  So it does not end in typical Hollywood fashion for Hatice, as one would expect of a rom com.  Hatice is not willing to be with someone just for the sake of her family and tradition, although she truly wants to help her sisters.

Ultimately one could see the story as containing some degree of female empowerment. Hatice resists the call of her Turkish parents and the Anatolian village (i.e. her Turkish conscious) that follows her around. She liberates herself from what is expected of her and is free to continue living her life as she pleases. The eponymous Hans represents the stereotypical German Spießer, or boring, rule-abiding but reliable bourgeois. Think of eating a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread with mayo. Totally not exciting or appetizing.  But now think of eating quesadillas with hot sauce and jalapeños. Delicious, fulfilling, spicy and flavorful.  I know what I would prefer.  If someone is boring, shy, quiet, unsure, unconfident, etc. that is not in itself a crime.  Everyone's tastes and preferences are different, but Hatice wants a mixture of German and Turkish, a modified, spicy Hans, and people like that do exist.  I can certainly relate because of my German and Greco-Italian roots.  The last thing I want in a partner is someone who would rather sit at home watching football and drinking beers, or does not dance and cannot handle parties, or always wants to talk instead of act.

Luckily I found my Hans mit scharfer Soße. And even if you cannot handle three-alarm fire, Sriracha level heat, I think we can all benefit from at least a little spice in our lives, don't you?




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