Life in a string quartet: No time to shop or cook

Life in a string quartet: No time to shop or cook


norman lebrecht

August 05, 2016

The weekly diary of Anthea Kreston, violinist of the Artemis Quartet



anthea bike


I am in full vacation mode – or at least as close to it as I can be. We have a 30 days together as a family – albeit with practice and prep for upcoming concerts. I have been enjoying the NYT “Intentional Summer” column, and we are doing 30 new things in these 30 days – trying to get out to all areas of Berlin, turning off the phone/directions – recognizing landmarks and exploring. From jumping in a lake to exploring a funky antiques market we have been having a blast.

I have missed cooking – I have been too busy – and in this past week my taste buds have become extremely nostalgic and needy. Jason has been telling his mom, and every day a package has shown up from her (she has apparently subscribed to Prime) – peanut butter, baking soda, brown sugar, vanilla, bisquick, chocolate chips. I have also decided to make the 5 new “Mother Sauces” from the NYT Cooking – and spent the morning today on my bike – going from one small ethic market to another searching out my ingredients (hint: nutritional yeast isn’t a known quantity). I have, on my fridge, a menu from Laughing Planet, an extremely creative organic restaurant in Oregon that we used to frequent – they have dinosaurs on the tables. I have been trying to recreate the menu, and the girls “order” their quinoa/sweet potato/tzatziki wraps from me. Also – a Cafe Yumm menu – and I have plans to recreate their signature sauce tomorrow. We pretend to be at one of these restaurants together, then talk through our pretend walk home in Corvallis – stopping at our favorite bakery and book store on the way.

I had a breakthrough this week. Well – I thought it was a fluke, but then it happened again. I spoke on the phone to the Internet company IN GERMAN.  Well – barely in German – but somehow – somehow – we understood each other. Then, a day later, I had to call to cancel a doctor appointment for my older daughter. Again in German. Such bad bad Germany. I was drenched in sweat by the end, and at one point I thought all was lost, and I started to walk towards Jason, eyebrows up, extending the phone, but he backed up and shook his head. I stuck to it. And I made it.

I just got off the phone with Fred Child from Performance Today (American Public Media). He has invited me on their Performance Today tour of Italy in May of 2017, as their guest soloist. A week in a gorgeous boat, and I will be playing concerts for them every couple of days – what an honor and a pleasure.

Tomorrow – Children’s Museum and a bike ride through Grunewald with the double in-line trailer for the girls. Staycation!


  • StefanFfm says:

    Try a “Reformhaus” for nutritional yeast.

  • Bruce says:

    Congrats on the language breakthrough! I’ve never lived abroad, but I hear about these moments all the time. A cousin of mine who lived in Paris for a year realized that she could suddenly understand the conversations around her on the Metro: “until then, I realized, I was sure that all these people were just doing this for fun, and spoke English when they got home.”

  • Marg says:

    I love the way you are so intentionally using your vacation. You are a real inspiration Anthea!