As the holiday frenzy winds down I am looking forward to quieter times with family and friends, which reminds me of one of the most charming holiday parties this season: a good old-fashioned kaffeeklatsch.
We were told our invitations did not include an invitation to our significant others (i.e, the husbands of the married folk). As part of getting schooled in our friend the hostess's German heritage, we learned about the tradition of the kaffeeklatsch. Women would gather and enjoy each other's company, conversation (gossip) over cakes or other simpler sweets and coffee.
And so on a quiet Sunday afternoon, early in the holiday season, we arrived for the kaffeeklatsch. The living room was casual and set up with a yummy sugary pastry and china coffee cups.
The more formal living room just the next room over was set up to the nines, with more china, a china coffee pot, creamer, plates, silver knives and forks, and finely starched delicate linens with crochet. We were told that the more formal setting in here, contrasted to the casual living room à propos of the kaffeeklatsch, replicated the kaffee kuchen ritual. This ritual would generally not take place at home for the pastries were so fancy for this: one would generally go out for this ritual and have -- cake.
We got things started off right with French 75 cocktails. Then it was time to move in for the conversation and cake. We tried to adhere to the formality of German custom and call each other "Frau" this and that, but that did not last long.
I wanted a seat at the dining room table very badly and maneuvered myself to get one. I was just so tickled with the German carols, the china, the silver, and the sweets all around. And maybe the French 75 kicked in too by then.
My seat was especially prime because it allowed close proximity to the cakes for viewing and then serving. There were two tiny multi-layer cakes, one adorably perched on a cake stand. One was Black Forest Cake, of course; the other was Italian Wedding Cake.
The world is divided into those who in the food realm tend toward the salty and those that tend toward the sweets. I have always been in the salty group and rarely get too excited about cake.
I especially have never been fond of Black Forest Cake or anything that tried to combine cherries with chocolate (except for biscotti) because it's just way too sweet. To get into the German theme though, Frau Wiley here went for a slice of the Black Forest Cake.
We learned that whipped cream was a must: it would be served in a crystal bowl and just placed on the table for self-serving. It could be used to stir into your coffee (yes, please), but also for the cake.
Seriously? Whippped cream on the cake? Just right there, plop a dollop of it down on the already-frosted cake? Yes.
I have a newfound appreciation for German food traditions (I am mostly of German heritage after all).
The cake selection was superb, from our favorite local bakery Upper Crust Bakery, and the Black Forest Cake was not too sweet. It was just right. And a dollop of whipped cream made it even more festive and, well, lighter it seemed.
There followed, as we were seated so ladylike around the table, conversation and story-telling. It was delightful and so civilized. It was just plain old conversation with some new friends, and with some friends whom we see a lot of, but somehow we just don't seem to have enough space and time to really talk.
Here's to all my over-extended, stressed-out mom friends and mover-shaker single women friends: let's say yes to more times of treating outselves to fine china, silver -- and cake and whipped cream!
But I would not say no to a French 75 beforehand.
Merry Christmas! Kick back and enjoy some quiet now.