I'm cringing as I type the title. Some things can't be translated, they sound so very wrong.
A few weeks ago, when I was in a reminiscent mood, I remembered one of my favourite childhood dishes. As it happened to be a dish from the Rhineland I thought it would be a good idea to cook it and bring some sense of culinary biculturalism into our home. Not that eating a dish from the Rhineland would encourage Cubling to suddenly speak fluent German of course. But every little helps, and valuing the minority culture in small and different ways is something that is proven to aid bilingualism.
I'm not a great cook, never actually have cooked this dish and with the general evening rush, I'm hard pushed to try out something new. Today was the day though, the inauguration of buttermilk bean soup, Buttermilchbohnensuppe. I cooked it reminiscing about the person who cooked me this tasty and unusual dish. It was our landlady, who lived in the flat below us, bringing up her grandson, only 2 years younger than me. We were close. I played with the grandson, he was the brother I never had. They had money and he had lots of toys. Boys' toys, which I loved to play with. And his granny was born and bred in the Rhineland, unlike us blow-ins. She spoke in dialect. She was a strong woman with a hard hand, and yet with a childish sense of humour. In the summer, when the paddling pool was brought out, she filled it with the hose, trying to catch me on the balcony upstairs, giggling like mad at my futile attempts to hide from the ice cold water and a 65 year olds perfect aim.
Every Sunday, she had her family over for lunch (which is dinnertime in Germany). She would always send up the desert. Occasionally, she'd cook Rhinish specialties, and again, she would send a portion up for me to eat. I loved her food beyond words. Her apple pancake was divine, so were her deserts, cakes and, yes, you guessed it, buttermilk bean soup.
My parents stayed in the flat on her behest, she had asked us if we would stay for as long as she lived. She never increased the rent, my mum did her daily shopping, I cleaned the staircase for some pocket money. I walked her dog, we fed our food leftovers to him. She had parties we came to and we had parties she came to. We saw her every single day, had endless chats, and there is so much detail of her flat that I remember, the photo of her dead husband, the old fashioned furniture that I admired. My parents moved a year or so after she had passed away, after I'd already moved to Ireland/Scotland.
I remember I'd asked her to write down the recipie for buttermilk bean soup. She never did. Maybe she didn't have one. So, tonight, I made it up myself, with a little help from the internet:
Rhineland Buttermilk Bean Soup
boil 500g of poatoes, mash with milk and a very generous portion of butter
fry an onion (I'm not sure if the original has onion, but I like onion so there you go)
sautee 300g-500g of green beans
Add one cube of vegetable stock to the mashed potatoes, then the onions and 1l of buttermilk, enough so that they are quite runny. Add the beans.
After adding the buttermilk, don't boil the soup, only heat very gently because buttermilk curdles when boiled - the taste will be the same, but it won't look as good.
You may vary the quantities, I only guessed them. You can add a tub of cream if you like. Season to taste.
Enjoy, a very healthy, easy, cheap and nutritious soup. And vegetarian too!