Last weekend we hosted our first dinner guests (besides Heinz and Jola, who count but not as much because they are related to us). These guests are friends and collegues who are a little older than us and who are impeccable hosts themselves. They have invited us over for tea and coffee, cakes and dinner and Brotzeit plenty of times, so it was high time we made the invite. They arrived and brought with them a belated wedding gift and a stunning bouquet of flowers.
We invited them for Brotzeit. I’ve mentioned Brotzeit before in a number of posts but to recap, it’s a snack or a meal, mostly made of cold food. It always includes, cheese, wurst, bread and butter, sometimes a pickle or two. It’s something akin to the US’s cold cut platter. You could easily take it on a picnic and we often order it at the Bier Keller. Usually when people eat Brotzeit at home they add hardboiled eggs and a few other things. We wanted to add a few special touches, so Thorsten bought some seasonal bread from the bakery in Forchheim, and I made a dessert (Nachtisch). Typically one drinks beer with a brotzeit and some of us did, but we had prosecco too, just to spice things up for our guests.
The dessert was a specialty from Sudtirol, a region in Northern Italy. It is called, Apfel Peutl and is kind of a creamy, eggy, semi-sweet tart with apples that seemed to be a hit. Phew! I found the recipe in a magazine called Servus Land and Stadt.
This is a beautiful magazine filled with photographs and stories of the prettiest regions of southern Germany, lots of recipes and highlights.We have a subscription because it’s a good way to practice reading German. This month they actually featured an area near us: Franconian-Switzerland, a region that is great for hiking, camping, biking and all kinds of outdoor activities, and they even had a cute map that included Forchheim and a mountain (hill) nearby called the Walberla, where it’s fun to go hiking on the weekends. I was so thrilled when I got the magazine this month and saw the article.
Aside from the dessert which I was unsure about, having never tried it before, Brotzeit is a pretty low pressure meal to serve to your guests. It kind of serves itself. Everything seemed well received, and almost everything got eaten.
One of the challenges of hosting dinners is speaking German the whole time. Of course most of our friends speak english, but I am in the home stretch of language school and really need to fast forward the bi-lingualness, so I’m trying to keep as much “auf Deutsch” as I can. I’m amazed at the difference from day to day, event to event. Being tired or a little under the weather makes understanding and speaking much harder but I’m always surprised by the days when I do understand things and can express myself without resorting to English.
Anyway at the end of the meal, we finished off the prosecco but the one thing we forgot to do was offer coffee and tea during the dessert (darn it! Rookie mistake number 2!)
When I was single I always dreamed of having a cute place where I could invite people over for small dinner parties. Over the years, wonderful traditions emerged because of the friends who were generous and opened their homes to me in this way. Life was sweeter because of Laura’s Sunday macaronia nights, Todd’s Sunday HBO nights and Krista’s delicious dinners with the George Foreman grill. I always wanted to repay them and thought one day I would live nearby and be able to do so. What’s ironic is that now finally, I live in a cute place, with plenty of space and opportunity for sharing food and time with people. The big BUT is that the cute place is across the ocean from all those sweet friends.
Being far away makes it a bit difficult for me to return the dinner favor to my old friends. (Although the invite is always open to them) Now I see that if I want to make this dream come true, I will have to make new friends. I will have to branch out and be brave. If I want to be successful, I can’t let my fear of speaking German incorrectly and desire to be the perfect hostess prevent me from moving forward.
When I think back to some of those meals that my friends shared with me, I realize that perhaps those dinners were the beginning of our friendships, that way back then, those friends were being brave, inviting me over when I wasn’t yet one of the gang or when we didn’t know eachother very well and it was the dinners that helped with that.
Well,…now I know what my next assignment should be after I finish language school.