Thursday, September 29, 2011

Real German Cooking!

So it has been much longer than I would have liked since my last post..... but lack of internet will do that. Hmmm where did we last leave off..... ah yes I had made my post about restaurants and food! Wonderful topic, which is why this post will be about food... but this time about making it.

Mariko and I attended a cooking class that Raphael, our coordinator in Marburg, so graciously setup for us. Only about half the Fulbrighters were in our class, as the other half attended a prior class. We arrived at the place at about 4pm and met our instructor, who incidently did not speak English (which worked out fine for everyone). She was going to teach us to make some classic German food!! Of course minus whatever allergies and food preferences (Vegetarian, Vegan, etc) we had. Brigitte, our cooking instructor, had done quite a bit of work before we even arrived. First off she had decorated the dining room with table clothes, flowers and grapes (both flowers and grapes came from her personal garden)! She had also prepared an appetizer for us all to try before we started working, with some white wine of course... it was a dinner meal after all. Brigitte also made copies of all the recipes that we'd be cooking for every person in the class (which I hope to translate and put for everyone). And lastily she even set up little work stations for us too work at, with all the things we would need and the recipe that we would be making.

Mariko and I worked with our good friend Mary to make a grits/vegetable soup. I was happy for this job, as most of it involved cutting vegetable.... and I like to cut veggies. I find it very therapeutic to cook in general, but even more so to cut up vegetables (which is bizarre because I rarely eat them). Something about just chopping and focusing on the knife and food... very pleasant. But time went quickly for the chopping and dicing. Two of the plates, a type of salad and stuffed tomatoes (for the vegetarians), was finished so we all sat down at a good stopping point to eat.

The first dish was a fish salad.... and yes it does sound very strange, and I would probably not tried it out on my own. But being as others had prepared it, it was something Brigitte had picked out for us and I was hungry (which always helps people try new things) I decided to give it a try. And it was great! I was completely surprised, especially since I don't usually like fish and salad.  Sadly I didn't get to try to the other plate, the stuffed tomatoes. They made enough for the vegetarians and vegan in our group, which made sense since they had a limited menu. But it sure looked good.

We returned to the kitchen and resumed our cooking. The soup was just about done, so we handed out little soup cups for everyone. Since there was some cooking still to do, we ate/drank our soup in the kitchen. It had a very nice flavor, but really no sustance... basically it was a good soup. Of course we'd been dirtying dishes the entire time, luckily we had been cleaning things as we go... Mariko prefers to cook that way at home anyway (like to make a mess when I cook!)

Rachel was excited about the wine that she used for the dessert
 The next big thing was for everyone to help make, and it was Spaetzle! I was very excited for this, as I've had it before and thought that it was very yummy. It was very interesting to watch it being made, as it is basically just dough. Though it did look like it was a little rough to mix it by hand.... I'm glad I got to just watch that part. But the fun part came next! We dropped small bits of the dough into almost-boiling water! Gabriel, our Hannover buddy, was our unofficial Spaetzle remover from said water. He did pretty well in guiding the rest of us through our scientific process of dropping dough into hot water... very difficult. I had fun, though everyone was making fun of how long I was taking (I wanted the pieces as close to the correct and same size as possible!).. but I know it was all in good fun.

Leighanna making Spaetzle

Finally all the food was finished, and none too soon as I was withering away from hunger. We took everything to the dinner table and filled up our wine glasses (red wine for dinner) and dug in! Here was the menu:
    Grated Potatoes and onions
    Roast (prepared by Brigitte because of the time needed)
    Lintil Sauce
All in all it was very good, and very German! Though we weren't completely done just yet. We had to clean our dinner dishes and then on to the last course... dessert! One group had been working on this a little bit the entire time, and it was definitely worth it. It was plums in a plum-wine sauced, and topped with handmade cream..... It was so good that I had two helpings (there was a spare since one of our group was diabetic).

We had a blast cooking with everyone, and so happy that we got to hang out with some of our close friends while doing it. Most of the other Fulbrighters socialized during dinner hour since they did not have a kitchen in their rooms, Mariko and I missed out on that opportunity... but this made up for it!

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