Mary's Dinner Club Stories - Swiss Evening
by Mary Anglberger - I guess the only ‘really Swiss‘ thing on the menu this Saturday was the cheese salad we had for starters - a delicious blend of sweet and sour with Emmental cheese, leek, pears and pickles.
Some homemade lemon vinegar, discovered in the depths of my kitchen cabinet, added just the right twist to the yoghurt-mayonnaise dressing. I had made the vinegar last year, after about half a ton of lemons was bestowed upon me by a friend. I’d never used it because I found it ‘not so great’. It turns out it just needed to ‘age’ – it’s beautiful now! So lesson to be learned: do forget about that lemon vinegar for a year.
The ruccola (roca) topping the salad added a lovely spicy note – another ‘cookery twist of fate’ – the kind stall holder at the Saturday market just threw that bag in as a present. It was the real (tiny) kind and looked so fresh, I felt I had to ‘put it to use’.
As for the rest of the menu – my Austrian roots got the better of me: Even though the served meat strudel was listed under Swiss menus, I remembered the one my mom makes and just forgot about the recipe altogether - what do we have skype for?
Now the recipe for dessert - apple rings deep fried in batter - did say ‘this has been a favorite for young and old for centuries’ but this is also true for Austria, so here too… apart from a bit of experimenting with the batter, it was my ‘Austrian culinary instinct’ that guided me.
As for the guests, I think it was just the usual good Karma (not Swiss either for that part). People do come to an event like this with an anticipating, open mind and since everyone is ‘in the same boat’, not knowing anyone or just one or two people, everyone puts their ‘socializing hat’ on and in no time the individuals melt into a group.
This time was particularly nice because there were 4 Germans of very similar backgrounds, three even coming from the same region, similar ages, interests….. it was perfect! And the changing-seats after-each- course practice assured everyone got to have a good chat - Latvians, Hungarians, Austrians too. So much so, that it was at times difficult to get people to get out of their seats and even though it was a bit chilly, the ‘balcony intermissions’ ended up being longer than usual too with the smoking and non-smoking guests all out there, involved in the most animated discussions.
I hope people don’t get tired of hearing this, but this was yet another fantastic eve. Receiving all those thanks and all that praise at the end of the event and seeing all those phone numbers being exchanged makes it sooo rewarding!
Bring on next Saturday, I am ready. Even though it will feature a festive meal of Bourbon chicken liver pâté canapés, roast beef and homemade Christmas cookies (yes, they will be Austrian), I jokingly called it Christmas Food Group Therapy Dinner based on a very funny cartoon I found on facebook. Look it up, if you have no family here and no plans, sign up!
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