Date: 23rd February 2022
Venue: Edgbaston Golf Club
Sponsor: Catherine Borghoff
With only one day to go before President Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson declared Covid over and less than two hours before World War 3 started, the intrepid and fearless Bucklanders gathered yet again at Edgbaston Golf Club. Thankfully we are in more certain times now with only two chancellors of the Exchequer and three Prime Ministers to go until Christmas. After several venue choices over the years, we always return to our natural base, mainly because this is the only kitchen left in Birmingham that puts up with our nonsense. Hats off to Greg Smith and team, he’s so inspired by the Buckland meals I hear he’s thinking of adding Fish Custard, Squirrel Bon Bon, Snake Soup and Hedgehog Surprise to the Golf Club menu. This was supposed to be the long-awaited Roman Dinner, unfortunately our planned host for this meal had put her shoulder out in a bizarre accident whilst ripping Larks tongues out of their beaks.
Your intrepid committee spent many, many hours coaxing shy retiring Buckland member Catherine Borghoff into thinking about hosting an Australian Dinner, however even as the Buckland committee members were dreaming of throwing a prawn on the barbie on the golf club terrace in February, Catherine declared that she would be hosting a German dinner. There’s more lazy cultural stereotyping to come, I thought I was better than that, but this is sadly not the case. Oh no we thought, however no one else could be bothered to think of anything else, so there was a unanimous decision to give it a go… what’s the worst that could happen? I gallantly refrained from saying ‘What’s the wurst that could happen?’
As it turns out, we were in safe hands as Catherine lived in Bavaria for four years and has travelled extensively throughout the country for many decades. Things were looking up when I arrived as I was immediately greeted by a table of Weissbier, Catherine’s selection of wheat beer for the evening.
I overheard members complaining about a big head but I gallantly stepped in and assured them that Catherine was probably over compensating for pre-dinner nerves. It turns out that the big head they were talking about was the large foam head on the Weissbier, we were assured that this appearance was the quaint German way of serving beer so as to make it difficult to drink and look terrible, anyway I drank two of them, it looked like I was in the initial phases of shaving a moustache off after.
The canapés were simple and delightful. I do not speak German or ‘Ich spreche kein Deutsch’ as I should say, so looking at the menu my rough translation was ‘Mouse on Toast’ and ‘Bat Pretzels’, both fine by me and passes the Buckland acceptability test of ‘Yeah, whatever’.
It turned out that they were actually mousses (or should that be mices?) of trout and onion, both were delicious, and I ate several of them. Maybe we should have less appetising canapés in future as I’m so greedy I’m usually ready for a nana nap by the time I sit at my table.
My complete lack of German, or ‘Mein kompletter mangel Deutsch’, meant that I was once again floundering as I looked at the main menu. Seemingly we were going to be treated to roadkill and Ostrich, again both perfectly acceptable and didn’t even raise a seasoned Buckland eyebrow. The first of our wine accompaniments was a 2020 Riesling, which Roger Hale informs me was sourced from that well known wine merchants, the Co-Op.
Catherine stood up to speak, not an easy task and I’m sure only a sociopath would volunteer to do this on a regular basis. Catherine’s explanation and background to the evening’s food was highly personal, informative and entertaining. She explained that this meal was based on food that her German mother-in-law makes for family meals; lunch usually being served at 12pm and dinner at 5pm, which sounds a little early in these modern times but is perfectly acceptable if supper pops along at 10pm, although it’s usually something else that pops along at 10pm after a Buckland dinner.
However, Hochzeitsuppe mit Eirstich (Wedding Soup with Egg Custard) turned out to be a delightfully pleasant soup with small meaty balls and an unidentifiable yellow square floating around, it resembled pasta but didn’t taste of anything. I assumed it was some sort of Germanic culinary joke. I should point out that I will be pronouncing all German phrases as though I’m a reject extra from ‘Allo ‘Allo. Catherine explained this comforting soup is also known as Wedding Soup, being served at the beginning of the wedding. The complicated stock has a variety of ingredients and takes around four hours to complete, sometimes sewed with raisin bread to add sweetness and, like a good marriage, always served hot. This soup was the highlight of the meal for me, the time and effort spent preparing the stock paid dividends (unlike a Government Bond) and what dish isn’t made more delicious by Iobbing in a few meatballs? The main course was very tasty, Beef Rolladens served with the winter option of red cabbage and beans. Another hearty serving, tasty and satisfying.
The overall night was like a fairytale, Grimm. Our table centre pieces each cleverly depicted a different fairy tale. Our table featured a wonky wall and overgrown vegetation, I assumed it was a model of my house. The table decorations were lovingly created by Catherine, Ruth Pearce and Lisa Abbot-Black. Some of us spent the evening puzzling over which fairy tale each one represented and some of us simply drank as much of the available wine as possible. Sadly none of the centrepieces featured my favourite but perhaps lesser-known Grimm fairy tales:
All kinds of Fur
Plus, my all-time favourites and I’m sure many of yours too – The Magic Table, The Gold Donkey and The Club in the Sack which tells the loving story of three brothers, a goat and a magic cudgel in a sack that beats people to within an inch of their lives on command of the owner, all ends happily though. As an epilogue, the story informs the reader what happened to the goat. The shaven animal went to hide inside a foxhole. When the fox returned home it was scared by the goat’s eyes. The fox asks a bear for help, but he is too frightened to go in. Finally, the fox and bear take a bee with them who stings the goat causing it to run away in pain. The storyteller concludes that nobody knows where the goat is now.
Why on earth don’t they write simple Children’s stories like that now? Also, it would also have made a lovely table centre piece. Grimm’s fairy tales have been universally liked for more than 200 years, a big fan was Adolf Hitler, he praised them so strongly that the allies in WW2 warned against them. Another well-known Grimm work was originally called ‘The Keeper of the Dwarfs’. However, there was nothing about our lovely meal to make us grumpy, Catherine should deservedly be Happy with the evening, I know she accepted well deserved praise without being Bashful and I was definitely Sleepy after the various delicious courses and drinks. I delved a little deeper into the history of Snow White and discovered a comprehensive list of rejected dwarf names, such as: Gloomy, Wheezy, Dirty, Burpy, Stuffy and Baldy. I decided to end this research as it seemed totally irrelevant to Buckland members.
Catherine explained that desserts in Germany are usually very light after the heavy main meal and never involve cake. Our Dessert was a palate cleansing Red Fruit Jelly accompanied with a subtle vanilla sauce before moving onto a morsel of Hausgennachte NusseckenI, don’t speak German but I’m guessing it translates as homemade nut wedges. These were lovingly handmade by Catherine and they were a small but delightful package.
To conclude, the evening was a resounding success and many thanks to Catherine and her helpers for accepting the daunting challenge to deliver a wonderful and informative meal with such little notice. As Catherine said ‘This is my story of Northern and Southern Germany, with a homage to my mother-in-law, Marlies Borghoff, who prepared this meal for me and my family hundreds of times’. It was this personal touch that made for such a charming evening. It would have been an easier option to simply postpone the meal, but the Buckland has never been about easy options. All in all, “Ein herrlicher abend”.
Dinner Minutes Secretary