Sunday, August 2, 2009

Guess who's coming for Abend Essen?

We have a German family coming over for dinner tonight and I'm nervous. Not being the best cook even when cooking for my Best Beloveds, when I'm cooking for others - particularly new acquaintances - I get a little rattled. It's just a BBQ, which in theory should be straight-forward but it's the first time we've used the BBQ in question and all the knob-labels are in German. When we first moved into the flat Thieu sat in front of the washing machine for an hour with a dictionary, working out which was the gentle cycle and which was for the coloured clothes. I hope the BBQ will be a little less complicated.

No supermarkets are open on Sunday and, naturally, I woke up this morning and realised all the things I don't have which may be required by our German guests. These include:

Bottled water, with gas and without. Whenever we've visited the locals they always seem to have a huge range of bottled waters to offer us. Not just with still or sparkling, but with varying grades of bubbles - from very fizzy through to just a couple of bubbles. I still baulk at the idea of paying for water at all, and Thieu, well, he thinks it's all a worldwide conspiracy and next they'll be charging for air etc etc. But serving tap water here would be the equivalent of scooping water straight out of the toilet. Just not done.

A wide range of condiments. At least two varieties of mustard and two types of ketchup are required, preferably with one of the mustards coming from a farmers' market. We have only one of each. I also realised we are missing another important condiment, especially as we're having potatoes:

Herb butter. Not just an interesting addition to a meal, but an essential part of one. I have only normal butter. Social disaster is imminent.

Actually, while I'm on the topic, there's a whole lot of dairy things that flummox me whenever I'm in the local Rewe supermarket. Staring at them fills me with both anxiety and desire. Quark, for instance, which sounds like something a posh duck might say. What does one do with Quark? Then there's creme fraiche. ANd buttermilch. I know, of course, that these things are readily available in Australia, but there aren't usually entire cabinets in the dairy cabinet devoted to varieties of buttermilk. So I sense that these things are important and every good hostess should have some of each on offer. In desperation the other day I bought a small tub of creme fraiche. But I have no idea what to do with it. Offer it with the potatoes? With the summer pudding? With both? Neither?

Buying wine is also intimidating because I don't recognise the bottles. I often don't even recognise the grape varietals. There are a few Aussie wines in the supermarket, but they are ones I'd never buy in Aus and wouldn't inflict on anyone else. And anyway, serving supermarket wine to anyone other than your immediate family is frowned upon.

Oh dear. I think I may have to have a large glass of (supermarket)wine before they arrive.


  1. oh badger, im feeling your anxiety....its making my neck itch.

    and quark - is that not the program i designed the spotters catalogues on? now taken over by adobe indesign. those adobe's are so smart they are now selling in supermarkets.

  2. Neck itch...l have hives!!!!!!

    And you haven't even mentioned what bread was chosen. Aren't Chermans picky about their loaves?

  3. Don't serve the creme fraiche with pudding! It's kind of like sour tasting cream. You could serve it with the potatoes - it'll be a thinner consistency than our supermarket sour cream. Also very nice with smoked salmon.

    As for bottled's really not good for the environment, so tell them you just can't buy it because of the drought in Australia. They'll find you a bit wacky, and likely put down your lack of it to being foreigners. Good luck! Heidi

  4. Eek. I did serve creme fraiche with pudding. And it was like sour cream! I wish I'd read your comment before Heidi. Oh well...

  5. Quark, it seems, could be a Pan-European phenomenon. I had the pleasure of letting its rubbery smoothness assault my senses in Amsterdam. Apparently they serve it to children. If you don't have a packet, melt one of M's plastic toys. It will have the same effect.