Yes, we had food. Lots and lots of food. Good food too, but this story is not about cooking, which I did, or recipes that I made. It’s about the many gifts that food provides. It’s about good neighbors. Breaking bread with friends. Kindness. Laughter and bridging the miles wide gap between generations, cultures and lifestyles.
There is something about food and the act of feeding people that is so basic, so elemental and yet it opens doors to new friendships, mends rifts with families and unites communities as well as offering solace to the grieving.
Udo and Klaus are our closet neighbors. In fact, one corner of their home meets one corner of our home. The “boys” as I affectionately call them, were the unofficial welcoming committee when we arrived in Bavaria in 2014. They have been THE source I turn to when we can’t understand the phone system, the foreign registration system, the internet system, the trash collection system, the car registration system and on and on and on! Believe me we had many questions and still do, but the boys have patiently, carefully and willingly helped us at every step of the way. Many of our questions have been answered over a plate of cookies, or a glass of beer as food is a universal language. Shortly after arriving here Dan and I asked several of our neighbors for dinner and served a very American meal of Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Coleslaw and Apple Pie! Everyone loved the food but more importantly, it allowed us all to meet and converse and laugh instead of staying isolated behind our respective closed front doors. Since that first dinner, the boys and I have sent many platters of cakes ( they both are great cooks!) breads, Chili, cookies, soups and more back and forth between our houses. All such gifts are greatly appreciated by all of us. We are all busy with our lives but sending a gift of food says, ” I know you can’t be with us today, but I am thinking of you.”
Udo and Klaus are eager to learn about how things are done in the USA. They both have visited the US and will visit again some day. I ask questions regarding cultural differences and they ask the same of me. “How is this done in the States? What about this? Is this the correct way to respond when an American wants to know…?” I spend much time house sitting for them and watching their very spoiled cats as they travel a lot. In turn they watch Bandit when we travel. I took Klaus to the hospital for minor surgery and Udo took me to the hospital for a pre op appointment.
Last winter the boys invited us for a Raclette dinner which they had spent a great deal of time preparing. It was not just the old melted cheese that Americans are used to but involved a Raclette cooking appliance and along with the cheese we had shrimp, steak, chicken and multiple sauces. It was out of this world delicious! They are always talking about how much they enjoy the European pizza from a certain pizza palour here but Dan and I are like ” yea….it’s OK, but we love our American style pizza.” And so, we invited Udo and Klaus for a homemade pizza dinner at Chez Giebel! In the course of the conversation Udo remarked that he loved Chicken Wings with Celery Sticks and Blue Cheese Dip. Dan and I looked at each other, then at Udo and laughingly I said, “Well, I think I can help you out with that one!” Homemade Pizza and Wings just happen to be a house specialty of ours.
Making bread or pizza dough is a bit like building a friendship. Choose what you need carefully.
Take care when blending new relationships. A gentle hand is never wrong.
Warmth allows both friendships and bread dough to grow.
Tincture of Time encourages friendship and bread dough to realize their potential.
And then comes the time when you smile and realize that you have created something special.
What happened next was priceless. An evening of laughter, story telling, feasting, beer, serious discussions of refugees and politics but it was evening that brought our friendship closer and even more trusting.
Two fully loaded pizzas with 42 Chicken wings, celery and the Blue Cheese Dip that Udo said was just as he remembered it. Later, we all could say that a lasting friendship has been sealed. I sure hope I can persuade the boys to come visit us the wild west when we return to Washington!