A Little Blue Alarm Clock That Turns Back Time

An object is often worth more than its material form. It can bring with it cultural echoes, family history, and personal memory. In The Things We Treasure, writers tell us about their most priceless possessions—and the irreplaceable stories behind them…

An object is often worth more than its material form. It can bring with it cultural echoes, family history, and personal memory. In The Things We Treasure, writers tell us about their most priceless possessions—and the irreplaceable stories behind them.


It was one of those orange-skied evenings, two years ago now, that Berlin does exceptionally well. I was heading into the city to run errands before a month-long trip to India to see my family. I hadn’t slept very well the previous night, so I sat motionless as my husband drove our car, lost in my thoughts—until my phone buzzed on my lap, jolting me out of my reverie. I’d received an email.

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Why This German ‘Rum Pot’ Will Always Have a Place in My Kitchen

I first caught sight of a rumtopf at a Berlin flea market a few years ago. It sat surrounded by assorted crockery and ceramic figurines, very large and very brown. Because I didn’t speak much German back then, having only recently moved from India, I a…

I first caught sight of a rumtopf at a Berlin flea market a few years ago. It sat surrounded by assorted crockery and ceramic figurines, very large and very brown. Because I didn’t speak much German back then, having only recently moved from India, I assumed from the name that it was a jar in which one might, well, store rum. A German version of the Portuguese garrafao de vinho, if you will. But because I had no real need for a five-liter jar in which to store rum, I didn’t buy it. A fact that I would come to regret.

It was only much later that I realized that rumtopf was also the name for a rather delightful boozy fruit concoction I had come to associate with winter in Germany. It referred to fruit that had been preserved in sugar and rather potent rum, and was typically served alongside a slice of cake or pie; or heaped on top of—and thus, completely transforming—a bowl of vanilla ice cream. As it turned out, it was also named for the jar in which it was made. Yes, that jar.

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