Year End Sweet and Sour

Note from the Harlequin editor:  In order to slowly get you into the right mood for the end of the year, our new articles all deal with the topic of “year ends” until the end of 2019 – sometimes from a professional, sometimes from a private point of view. Today we start with a culinary contribution – enjoy!

We had just become parents that year. The little one was actually cute, but we parents were on the verge of a nervous breakdown at times, especially when travelling, because our daughter threw up everything she ate consistently between 65 and 75 kms on a 200 km route to parents or parents-in-law. And now Christmas was just around the corner. In order to spare the baby (of course only her!) unnecessary travel stress, we invited parents and parents-in-law to our home without further ado. After all, Christmas is THE family celebration…

The Rumtopf had already been started in June and should have reached its peak, the hotel rooms were booked and the weather also played along, so that people could arrive comfortably. Exchanging presents was accompanied by “Ohs” and” Ahs,” rather than an “Oh gosh!” And so slowly pangs of Christmas hunger were registered. Baby was sleeping and the feast could begin.

For many years a star chef’s (Siebeck’s) Christmas menu had been a good starting point for us for the season’s culinary planning. And this time we decided to cook all the suggested courses. Oh, and was it delicious and appreciated by all! The wine and the beer (yes, that too!) were good and spirits were high in anticipation of the dessert. The star chef had then opted for lemon cream.

The lemon cream came, the first spoon played around the palate and finished this course quicker than expected. My mother bravely affirmed: “Oh I do love tartness”. My mother-in-law fell into the courageous da capo: “Me too!” My father puckered his lips and said: “Well, I can’t eat that.” And my father-in-law shouted: “Where’s the Rumtopf?” 

In the star chef’s lemon cream recipe 8 lemons were supposed to be sweetened with 75 grams of sugar. But that was clearly too little for my father and father-in-law! And for all the others, too, for that matter.

What had happened? There was a printing error in the magazine! And I had trusted the maestro!

Mistakes often lead to shame, so we like to disguise them, play them down or even cover them up. I too was embarrassed, coupled with irritation at my failings. But only briefly. For thanks to Rumtopf, cookies and general laughter about the look on our faces we had a blissful evening. We still tell this family anecdote to this day.  The story made me realise that some mistakes might have been avoided but they can still lead to general merriment as long as the “perpetrator” has a certain degree of resilience.

I made the lemon cream again a few years later, with 275 grams of sugar, as the star chef described it in his correction for fallible cooks like us. You can eat it that way. But why should you, if, as in the phrase in German “Sour makes you merry.”

What is your favourite Christmas dinner story?

Original text: HFI
English translation: BCO

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