What language is she talking here, some of you might ask? You see, it’s not a language as such but the local dialect spoken in the Rheinland of Germany, especially in the Köln (Cologne), Bonn etc. area. Fine, you say, but what actually does it mean! Strictly translated “Riev…(reiben=grated) kooche (Kuchen-Cake)”, properly known as REIBEKUCHEN!
Although they are eaten all through the year, they are really a cold weather treat.
By the middle of Autumn you can see the first ‘Buedchen’ appearing at the daily or weekly markets, on the corner of your district and especially at every ‘Kirmes’ (Fun Fair), Christmas Market etc. Together with ‘Curry-Wurst’ (curried grilled Sausage in a bun) ‘Linsensuppe’ (Lentil Soup) etc. – I could go on and on telling you about what is available – and of course ‘Gluehwein’ (Glow-wine, hot red-wine punch).
‘Reibekuchen’ are one of the most sought after ‘Streetfood’. Yes, of course, you will find them in most decent restaurants that time of the year, no gastronomic stars or 5-stars it does not really matter, except the price of course. The luxury version is served with slices of smoked salmon and crème fraiche, while the true traditional way to eat Reibekuchen is, especially in Köln and Bonn, simply with a nice dollop of refreshing apple stew and with a slice of Schwarzbrot or Pumpernickel.
All around the Globe the climate has changed – so, the memories of solidly frozen lakes and small rivers in the cities have to remain just that for most of the times – memories!
When ‘in my previous life’ we lived and worked for 3 years in Hamburg, this beautiful elegant city in the North of Germany, we were fortunate to experience something, which had not been there for about 10 years before our arrival. In the middle of Hamburg is the famous ‘Aussenalster’, which is one of the tourist attractions, the white boats ferrying people from point A to Z, ending their journey right in the very financial heart of the city, ready for more sightseeing or great shopping!
Our house fortunately overlooked the Park and part of the Lake. Unfortunately I only have very few photographs from this period left. But in one you can clearly see the Lake with the sailing boats during summer and the other one, oh what a joy!!! Our frozen lake – solid – they took an Army lorry out to test the strength! Bright blue sky and in no time a long line, more than one kilometer, of ‘Buedchen’ of all kinds appeared. Children small and big! with their sledges raced up and down, some even drawn by large dogs. Did you know that most dogs absolutely love snow? Certainly our black Labrador did and our Dachshund!!
On that week-end, when this picture was taken, we went with a number of friends from ‘Buedchen’ to ‘Buedchen’ eating and yes, drinking ‘Gluehwein’, all the way from our house down to the centre of the city. Of course, we had to keep warm, lol! The idea was to meet up with some more friends and have lunch at the ‘Rathauskeller’ – Yes, we did meet the friends, but Lunch? No way, not on that day – we all took a rain-check for another day.
Here are my own Reibekuchen, which we enjoyed for lunch today. Try them, I promise, they are delicious!
I used 3 large potatoes, peeled and left whole
1 large onion, peeled and left whole
1 large potato, peeled, boiled, mashed
2 whole eggs
Salt, pepper, grated nutmeg (and some red chilly powder! Very very optional)
Some parsley or coriander leaves, finely chopped
Vegetable Oil for frying and lots of paper towels for draining the ‘cakes’.
Grate your raw potatoes on a box grater, then the onion, into a large bowl. Cover and let rest for ½ hour. Take a clean kitchen towel and scoop the potatoes and onion mix out of their water and wring the towel in order to extract as much liquid as possible; return to the rinsed out bowl. Add eggs, the mashed boiled potato, salt, pepper, pinch of fresh nutmeg (and if you like the ‘kick’, by all means try some red chilly powder – but this is my Indian version) and the parsley.
Mix well. Heat oil in a large pan, make flat patty like cakes in your hands and carefully add them to the hot oil. Careful – because they will splatter!
Reduce heat to half and fry your Reibekuchen on each side for app. 5 minutes (the edges should be nicely brown but center soft and golden) – test one cake and adjust your seasoning and timing.
Take out and let them rest on plenty of kitchen towel, keeping them warm until all the cakes are done.
Sit down and eat immediately! Cold ‘Reibekuchen’ are not everybody’s taste.
I served them with homemade apple stew and the rest of my ‘Vollkornbrot’ – the real thing – which I still had from my last visit to GOURMET House here in Thevera.
Enjoy – Guten Appetit. Carina