Bildechingen is a very small village of 2200 inhabitants. The closest bigger town is Horb, which has 6000 inhabitants, and it takes about 5 minutes to drive there by car. Horb is down in the valley, and Bildechingen is on the top of the ridge overlooking the valley. There is a shopping area about 20 minutes away by foot, where one finds such businesses as Real (a super center with just about everything plus a grocery store), Norma (which is like Aldi), a hardware store, a garden center, two car dealerships, a beverage market, a pet store, a saddle shop, and a McDonald's. Down in Horb there are several grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, cafes and clothing shops, a flower shop and a bookstore, and quite a few restaurants and pubs.
Germans are very proud of their bread, and rightly so. Unfortunately, though, as has happened in the States, the small local bakeries are having a hard time competing with big we-have-everything stores, especially in smaller towns where people have to drive to a grocery store for most of their purchases anyway. At the big stores the bread, pastries, rolls, and cakes arrive in bulk frozen and are baked in their ovens. It tastes fine and it will do, but it's a treat to go to a real bakery, where the baker makes his own dough, pie crusts, and cakes from scratch.
We don't have a bakery in Bildechingen or in the shopping area 20 minutes away. We have something better. Every Wednesday morning a van drives into our neighborhood and stops right in front of our neighbors' house! The driver honks the horn to let us know she's there and opens up the side of her van like a kiosk. She has loaves of many different kinds of bread, rolls, baguettes, pastries, big pretzels, and a few cakes.
I can't believe my luck! This van doesn't stop down the street or around the corner - it's 10 paces out our front gate. She arrives in the morning around 8:45, which is right around the time I get hungry. My biggest challenge is going to be holding back and not buying too much.
Every Tuesday evening around 7:30 there's a fruit and vegetable truck that does the same thing, and we'll happily support this farmer's business as well. I don't get quite as excited about healthy veggies as I do about bakery, but I definitely appreciate the convenience.
I am very happy to support the local farmers, butchers, and bakers, even if their prices are a little higher than in the big chain stores. The food is better quality and fresher, they appreciate the business, and they're very friendly. The baker this morning asked me if I'm new here (today was the first time I saw the van - I don't know how I've missed it in the past 4 weeks!). As I left with my treasures, I said "Auf Wiedersehen; Bis nächste Woche!" ("Good bye; see you next week!") She will definitely see me again next week and every week after that.