Friday, August 8, 2008

Summer Fest

Every year, Aaron's company has a family party at the lake cottage of the owner's parents (rustic- think Up North, not South Haven). This year the event was Saturday, July 12, so I had had a total of four German lessons! We were very curious about what this potluck barbeque would be like. What should we bring? How long will it last? Aaron had heard some interesting stories about people waking up without their pants because they had gone skinny-dipping and dropped them in the lake! Hmmm?
We arrived about 3:30 in the afternoon with a plate of fresh chocolate chip cookies. This was a double experiment. First, the cookies themselves: it was the first batch of cookies I had made here using German flour, sugar, butter, etc. You wouldn't think ingredients would be different but you never know! Had to smash up a chocolate bar for chunks as "chips" are not sold here. Also, I had to plug my mixer into a voltage converter and wasn't sure how that would work. And I had a new oven and of course I couldn't quite figure out the settings as they are in German. Alas, the cookies turned out just fine. So, the second part of the experiment was the Germans: do they know about chocolate chip cookies? I myself can hardly imagine an existence without them, but perhaps with all the other yummy chocolatey things, they had overlooked the best one! Anyway, the cookies went over well and did not seem to be a novelty. But I digress! Back to the party...
I was also very interested to see what everyone else would bring. Mostly salads- several varieties of potato salad, pasta salad, and tomato and mozzarella salad. There was a big bowl of hard-boiled eggs, several loaves of fresh bread, BUT, unbelieveable as it may seem, hardly any desserts! There were bowls and bowls of gummies and wrapped chocolates, but aside from my cookies there were only two small cakes. A little disappointing...
The owner's father, who used to be a butcher (see posting re. smoked eel), was in charge of all the meats for grilling! There was an amazing selection! Filet mignon, lamb, pork chops, chicken breasts, many types of sausages. Everyone chose the meat they wanted and gathered around one of the three big charcoal grills to cook it! It was very fun to have everyone mingling and chatting about their meat as it cooked. And it made the eating last much longer, which is kind of nice since that's the part everyone looks forward to anyway.
There were all kinds of alcohol- beer, wine, Sekt (German champagne), mixed drinks. Everyone was very excited to make caipirinhas, which I just learned from Wikipedia is Brazil's national cocktail. I didn't know Brazil had a national cocktail (Susan and Chris- friends who lived in Brazil for five months, I hold you personally responsible for my ignorance of this beverage. I can't believe I had to come all the way to Germany to find out about it.) So, it was quite a festive atmosphere in spite of the damp weather!
There were two kayaks and anyone could take them out on the lake. There was also a big net- maybe five feet across- that could be lowered with a pulley into the water to catch fish. That was a big hit for the kids. Mostly, as you would expect, people just sat around talking and laughing.
As the evening wore on, more and more people seemed able to speak English. We were very relieved to have people talk with us since we really were helpless in German. But it was also rather entertaining to see how a few cocktails got peoples' tongues loosened up and all of the sudden their high school English lessons came back to them!
We finally left the party at around 11:00 when strangers started hugging us! We heard that the last people left at four o'clock- whether anyone lost their trousers I do not know!


rob said...

It's hard to find cachasa in MI to make a caipirinha, but the resort in Mexico that you guys suggested to us carried it at all the bars. I wonder how tossing some mint into it would taste - cachasa mojito? By the way, it's Ribfest weekend here.

AngnMo said...

No chocolate chips? Vas ist das? Ok, I probably butchered that but you get the idea. Actually, i knew that they didn't have chocolate chips in Germany b/c of Nora. She tried to make my nearly famous banana bread muffins w/ chocolate chips and had to use the same technique w/ the chocolate bar. None the less, they turned out which is great! Nothing more disappointing than failed baking for a potluck! Ha!