My mother was born in 1956. She grew up in the somewhat underdeveloped, infrastructurally weak region called Allgäu.
It lies in the southwest of Bavaria and is a very mountainous area. The Allgäu is known for its unique brown cows, the excellent milk and the great "Bergkäse" (Engl. mountain cheese). The Allgäu is also known for its beautiful mountains, the smooth landscapes, a lot of lakes and green grass.
Her parents are both, like me, food chemists. My grandpa, in particular, is what you would call a foodie today. I am going to dedicate an article and podcast to him. My grandpa is a skilled chef, a very intelligent and well-educated person, for which I am very grateful, because he teached me a lot.
My grandmother was very talented in simple cuisine from previous decades and centuries. At that time everything was scarce, except grain and potato products and the milk and milk products of the cows. Accordingly, my grandmother was particularly good at pastries and milk-based dishes. The everyday simple meals. Semolina porridge, rice pudding, deep-fried "Auszogene" (comparable to a donut, deep-fried only in clarified butter and sweetened only with granulated sugar).
Besides she could cook a staple dish of the Allgäu region: outstanding "Kässpätzle." (comparable to Mac ‘n Cheese). This is comparable to pasta, so it is a kind of German or South German pasta, with a lot of cheese and onions. “Spaetzle” are button-sized noodles consisting of a dough, made of flour, egg, and salt, which are put into the boiling water with a specific kitchen tool to shape it. When the Spaetzle float on the surface of the water, they are ready and put into a casserole dish. The cheese is now added to the Spaetzle. This must be at least three different varieties when making a traditional recipe. Emmentaler, Limburger (a very smelly, aromatic, soft cheese, comparable to a St. Albray) and Bergkäse. The cheese and pasta are well mixed and roasted in the oven or a cast-iron pan to create roasting aromas.Then onions are stewed in plenty of butter or clarified butter and slightly roasted. All this is garnished with fresh chives.
Back to my mother. So, she comes from an educated, well-off family where food, cooking, and food were always important. But also, from a time when meat, citrus and drop fruits were rare or unattainable. This lack has strongly influenced my mother's cooking habits. She preferred simple cooking. Pure, in the sense of few ingredients, without much bells and whistles. This made it possible for my mother, despite her job, to cook for us three children in everyday life. Because her way of cooking was fast, effective and unpretentious. You have to imagine: my mother works as a primary school teacher, comes home at 1 o'clock at noon, just like her three children. Of course, we children were hungry, my mother was tired and yet she cooked fresh for us every lunchtime.
Dishes from my childhood? Turkey slices in cream sauce, shashlik, noodles with roasted ham, semolina porridge, rice pudding, rice casserole, boiled potatoes, noodles with tomato sauce.
As you can see, a relatively simple, but always delicious cuisine. Another parallel can be seen: my mother took over my grandmother's dishes. Many pastries and milk dishes, such as semolina porridge, etc. As a child, I loved the warm semolina porridge, with a delicate milk skin on the surface, cinnamon sugar, and raspberries. Unfortunately, I do this far too seldom myself.
A Bite of My Mother's Food: Kässpätzle
On days off or on weekends my mum often made her Kässpätzle. She got the recipe from her mother, my grandmother, and she got it from her mother and so on and so on. When I think of a dish: then the perfectly tender cheesy Kässpätzle of my mum. With lots of pungent cheese, mildly sweet and buttery onions. A meal for which I would travel halfway around the world today to get it. Important for perfect Kässpatzle: fresh eggs, and many of them. Fresh milk, preferably raw milk. Cheese that has matured a bit (no fresh cheese, otherwise the Kässpätzle have no aroma) and a good pinch of salt, in every step. Because the dish must be very spicy and hearty.
Her impact on me, culinary wise
I am incredibly grateful to my mother for providing us children with fresh food and for giving me so much on my way through life. So my love for donuts and fried pastries comes from my mum and her preference for the "Ausgezogene" of my grandma, or the German Berliner (in southern Germany these doughnuts are Krapfen in Southern Germany).
Thank you, Mama.