Thursday, August 13, 2009

kuchen again

I originally wrote this in October 2008 as an e-mail to my family.





For the 14 months I've lived here, I've heard, smelled and tasted various German dishes I never knew existed throughout my 23 years as a member of the blank, blank, and blankity blank families (no names, no creepers).

In North Dakota, the food pyramid has seven food groups instead of six. The seventh consists of fatty, creamy, buttery desserts and dishes baked with the sole purpose of keeping warn in the winter. See: knoephla (pronounced neff-la) soup.

On Tuesday, Leslie, a friend from our server days who shares a love of travel and a hate of idiot men, and I gathered our spatulas and borrowed rolling pins and headed for the hills of Jamestown High School where we could feel our thighs thicken before we'd even entered the room. If you guessed we were there to learn, you'd be correct. Two 20-somethings signed up for a cooking class along with mothers, grandmothers and married women intent on finding us husbands. In true Katie-fashion, Leslie and I were the only women sans-engagement bands there.

Naturally, we were the only women sans-culinary skills as well.

The class we'd signed up for was a $15 kuchen (coo-gin, like begin but without the be-) baking class offered by the local Career and Technology Center. Kuchen is a German dessert made with pie-like crust, custard and various kinds of filling including peach, blueberry, apple and the most popular: prune and cottage cheese.

The first order of business was the rolling of the dough which, after the teacher did it, seemed simple. She lied.

My first problem was getting the grapefruit-sized lump to stop adhering to my rolling pin despite my shaking it like a fly swatter in an attempt to get it off.

Flour Kaite, one woman whispered. I know, I lied.

Soon, my crust was as flat as Christina Aguilera in her "Genie in a Bottle" days but like unlike most small-chested women, my dough had curves. Not the round, circular, 360 degrees ones like the crusts of my classmates, but rather, mine had curves similar to that of a two-handled ping-pong paddle.

Despite this, I kept rolling along thinking sooner or later, it all would even out. I was wrong.

Better just to start a fresh with yours, the teacher said, without bothering to lower her voice. The other students looked at me like Katie Couric looked at Sarah Palin, "What's WRONG with you?" they thought. "You'll NEVER get married rolling dough like that."

Awesome.

So after some extra help by both the teacher AND the woman standing to my right, finally my crust was ready for its tin. This job I could do. I folded my crust in half and kneaded it in place without any extra assistance. Soon, it was time for prune layering and oven baking.

When the teacher removed my masterpiece, she even marveled at its perfection all the way to the kuchen cooling counter a home-ec station west. Soon, my classmates' faces of pity turned to jealously, but I slapped their hands. Take my kuchen and yours'll be in your face, I hissed.

When the kuchens were cool and the class over, Leslie and I bagged our treats and posed for a photo. My perfect kuchen would make a perfect framed picture. The only problem was, I dropped it.

That's right.

The most beautiful kuchen in the class, and likely the whole world, was suddenly lumpy, uneven and pathetic.

But like the culinary expert I am, I patched her up, wiped her clean and took my kuchen to work the next day where Germans from as far away as the advertising department marveled at its greatness.

So, who wants to visit?

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