Saturday, February 21, 2015

My burning hot northern German Valentine's date

Yes, you read that correctly, I had a burning hot Valentine's Day "date." It was actually literally burning hot. I'm not kidding. At one point the table was on fire. It was all in the name of some northern German fun so it all worked out. Heck, even my date was northern German (but from a different state than what was being featured).

There was a cultural night where a group was serving a meal and traditions from northern Germany. I asked along a friend and we decided to wear dirndls, which have absolutely nothing to do with northern Germany (they're more Bavarian). That's what I think is so awesome about this friend; she totally went with it, even as she was suffering major wardrobe malfunctions.

After stuffing ourselves into our dirndls (I realized that it's easier to put it on after unzipping the bodice first!), we headed up to the restaurant to join the group. We were pretty much the youngest ones there, by at least 25 years. It was a lively bunch and we were immediately greeted with glasses of sekt with rum-coated raisins. Now that's a way to start the evening!

We thoroughly confused our table mates since I kind of do/don't speak German and my friend is obviously fluent, but they didn't realize that she was German at first so they spoke English to her. Wearing the dirndls didn't help ease the confusion either (always keep people guessing!) but we were welcomed warmly.

Our dining companions soon directed their attention on the hostess, letting her know that they wanted dinner. She told them that it was still social time and dinner would start soon. I tried to keep a straight face because I imagined them devolving into children, pounding on the table, and chanting "we want food, we want food!"

The dinner arrived: boiled potatoes (Salzkartoffel), Grünkohl (kale, pureed and boiled), and two different kinds of smoked sausage. I ended up doling out the sausages to the other diners since I was in the middle. Some of the sausages were as big as the plates where I was dropping them, making me feel a bit risqué. The food was tasty. I don't normally dig German food much as I'm not really a meat n' potatoes type of gal, but this was a pleasant deviation.

This was the smaller of the sausages. Kid you not.
 As we were eating, the schnapps and spoons came out. Oh lawdy, was that something! We experienced Löffeltrunk, which was shots of schnapps taken from a special spoon. The last drink was Friesengeist, which was brought out flaming in little shot glasses carried in a wooden shoe (I was excited about the wooden shoe because my peeps are Dutch).

Even the shoe that carries the shots warns that it's "served burning."
Here's where the burning hot portion of the evening came in: one gentleman spilled a bit from his shot glass so the table started on fire. He nonchalantly blotted it out, grinning, and commenting, "happens every year!" We were also given special spoons to set on top of the shot glass to extinguish the flames. Our host said a nice folksy thing and then we all threw back the fiery drink. Oh my goodness, one could taste the fire!

The tools of the northern German (drinking) trade. We drank shots out of the spoons.
 Following the excitement of setting the table on fire, we then watched a slide show as our host talked about northern Germany. There were lots of windmills, ships, bicycles, adorable dudes wearing dark blue-striped shirts and captain hats, and wind-swept dunes.

Traditional male northern German outfit, with schnapps, of course! Isn't he great?

As the other guests left, my friend and I chatted with the hostess. She commented on our dirndls, saying that they were Bavarian and traditional northern Germans attire was like what she was wearing, a white blouse with some embroidery and a long black skirt. She also made a point to say that they wear their skirts to their ankles in northern Germany. I told my friend later that we probably looked like women of "loose morals" with our knee-length dresses and we had a giggle about that one. Everyone seemed confused about why we were wearing dirndls. We told them that we had just felt like it. They said, ah, it must be for Karneval. Um, not really, but if that's how they needed to compartmentalize it, that's fine.

Despite the dangerous drinks, we had a really good time and learned more about northern Germany. You can't beat that!


  1. Gee, wearing dirndls at a Grünkohl party in northern Germany? That's a little bit like wearing 19'th century cowboy costumes while visiting Cape Cod. Dirndls are appropriate in rural southern Bavaria, rural areas of Austria and Switzerland, and at the Oktoberfest and perhaps Carnival. For the rest of Germany: a funny costume.

  2. We didn't care. We wore them because we wanted to, not because we thought that they fit with the theme. We also weren't in northern Germany, we were right here in the Pfalz. They don't fit the dress here, either. I didn't realize that there was a ban on wearing them outside of prescribed times ;)

    1. Dirndls aren't a thing in Baden-Württemberg either, and yet there's a charming and well-known woman in Esslingen who only wears Dirndls. I love rule-breakers! (though I would never dare to be one :-))

  3. B, you need to live a little! LOL. My friend, W, is from northern Germany and thought it was a fantastic idea to wear dirndls. That's what's so fun about her - she loves to be a weirdo too :)