The Germans are the best bakers in the world. There is no arguing it,well....Iknow some of you, you're going to throw feeble arguments out there, but trust me. I don't know much about much, but I do know baking, and the Germans can't be matched.
"Oh Klecko,,,,what about the French?".....What about em?
"You Can't put them above the Italians!"....I just did.
"Are you saying they are actually better than Americans?"......Did I stutter?
Trust me, as an American Pollack, I have studied the history of my families lineage, and I am aware that Poland has been a door mat for the Germans and Russians to wage their wars so the collateral damage would end up on foreign soil, but as a baker.....you gotta give props to where props want to be. In the collar,arms and heart of those who guides them.
I've talked about being married to a Jew before, and often times people have asked me how I can continuously praise the Fatherland after everything that took place with the Jews during WW2. Dude....really? So the Germans that kick it in Miami are all Nazis to this day? I don't think so.
I wonder if the kids in Bolivia or Malaysia will dog Klecko's sourdough because Americans stole African Americans off their soil, oh yeah....while we are at it, can you brush the whole massacre of Native Americans under the carpet while you are at it?
By now, most of you realize Klecko is not about lines that divide people or property. Klecko has been called into the world to be optimistic, to love and to bake items so wonderful, that you won't even mind sitting next to your ex husband while eating them.
On Summit Avenue is a parade on mansions that runs several miles long through Saint Paul. In one of these dwellings is a gathering place for a group of Germans, what is it called? something like the Germanic Instatute of Minnesota, or something.
I don't honestly remember how our relationship took place, usually my memory is pretty good at remembering who courted who but, for some reason all I remember is that I was to go and do a Demo focused on German breads for these people.
The "lecture" was to take place on a Friday in the evening, so throughout the mornings vampire hours, and into the noontime Klecko worked diligently on recreating some of the styles and flavors of German bread that his audience had grown up with.
Duplicating ethnicity can always be challenging, for instance if I walked up the their podium and declared I made the best Party Brot......all hell would break loose, some feeble clod would wave a cane in the air and ask me when was the last time Klecko had sampled Werners wares in Dusseldorf.
You can't refute perception, in any aspect of life. so throughout the course of my baking shift I attempted dark rye's, I did a caraway / lager piece with honey and golden raisins. I also did pumpernickel's, brotchen, roggenbrot and even pretzel breads that I hand dipped in caustic soda.
So I finish a 10 hour shift, go home, take a shower and swoop up Sue McGleno under my wing and point the bread truck in the direction of "Little Berlin".
When I get to the mansion, I had an actual tower of bread. have you ever seen those plastic bread totes that rest behind grocery stores. I had those on wheels and stacked to my chest (remember....Klecko is 6' 3".)
So as I slowly drag these across an uneven sidewalk, several woman poke their heads out the door, give me an inquizitive look, and then they slammed the door shut. They knew I was coming in...didn't they?
These birds didn't just close the door, they SLAMMED it.
Sue McGleno usually isn't one to attempt to dispense humor, but I am pretty certain I overheard some zinger about Pollacks on the doorstep.
Klecko then proceeds to ring the doorbell, the woman who slammed the door now reopens the door, but now she greets me as if the previous incident never took place and asks me how she can help.
When I explained to her that I was supposed to do a German Bread presentation she looked befuddled....
"No, (and I can't write in a thick German accent - sorry) I don't think you are. Anna is doing a presentation."
Anna was a club member, and Germans have this white doily stuff. It has a name, but I don't know what it is. I've seen the exact same items from Bulgaria to Peru, but Anna led me to believe that the German version was different....because it was better LOL!
So Klecko pulls an envolope with the Germanic Institute crest on it, and produces a letter that quoted the starting time and date. It doesn't always happen, but on this occasion Klecko was correct.
Now several women entered and clucked as to who the dumb a** was that double booked. When one of the kitchens alpha dogs suggested that I come back the following week...Klecko replied....
"Verily-Verily I say unto you fine ladies, by this time next week Anna's white doily things will be in the exact shape that they are now, but these loaves of mine. These loaves that I spent the day slaving on will be dead. C'mon....I really don't want to be a thorn in your side, but if you turn me away, what will I do with all this bread? They will become bread orphans!"
I kinda thought they would laugh....they didn't, in fact a chick named Helga suggested that I just leave them for the dinner and come back the following week with new loaves. I looked over at Sue McGleno with those "Are we in the Twilight Zone" eyes.
And of course by now.....you know that nobody was enjoying my plight more than her.
So Klecko starts to get pissed and looks at the name of the woman who signed it. I'm going to insert a fake name now, because "Oh My Blog"....I'm not here to tear people down.
I've always dug the name Lola, so I pointed to the signiture and said "Why doesn't somebody find this Lola, is she around?"
Now all the hens are barking orders, and I wondered if there would be anyone left to follow them out. Eventually a woman surfaced, and she was one of those rare women that made Sue McGleno flash me that "Don't even think about it look."
This Lola was about 5-10 years my senoir, and she wore a bright red pant suit just like that chick who was the German performance artist in the Big Lebowski. remember her? she was the one with wires attached to her body, and she surfed the ceiling of some vacent warehouse space hovering over The Dude.
In addition to a ringmaster pant suit, Lola wore a black shirt that had low cut ruffles that ran along the button seam. Funny though.....usually middle aged women don't leave as many buttons undone as she did. I confessed to Sue McGleno that I was scouting, but it was more of a car crash stare, and she granted me pardon while explaining that even she to couldn't help but look, and middle aged German chicks had never been her scene.
I don't know what the pecking order was, but Lola greeted me (and my date) with kindness and soft cheek kisses before taking the birds into the kitchen and yelling at them with this sexy guttural-throaty-a** lashing that was really quite impressive.
When she left her minions and returned, she had us follow her upstairs to an area that contained a gift shop,where she basically killed time with us until dinner. We got to sit under chandeliers that you'd expect to see in an opera hall's foyer before attending the Valkyrie.
We were served Schweinbraten, Wiener Schnitzel and piles and piles of kraut. It honest to "G" was one of the top 10 meals of my life. As we ate, the tension lowered. Old people were being nice to us. Old people are fun to eat with, they always seem to been genuinly interested in stuff as long as it is positive, While our dinner conversations were in full stride, some guy entered our area, he had gotten there late. He had been down in the beer celler area setting up his little booth where he was going to sell and autograph books about the adventures of his Granddfather who flew in the Luftwaffe.
When Sue McGleno overhear this, I interviened and asked if she was enjoying herself yet. Her eyes vulture glared me and commented that the dessert better be pretty d*** good.
So the meal is done, peeps stand up slowly, some run outside to have a quick smoke. Klecko runs down into the beer celler, and this place has long oak tables, important crests with tough looking creatures all over the wall. The bar is stocked with priceless gems of achohal which I am hoping were brewed in castles which overlooked the Rhine....and as I walk up to the podium, I swear to Caesar that Luftwaffe guy close lipped smiles at me across the room and flashes me an encouraging thumbs up.
So now Lola stands to give an intro, she starts off apologizing for the mix up, and assures everybody that next week, or next month, whatever it was...that they would get to see Anna talking about those fetching white doilies.
Klecko walks up to the mike, and pans the audience from left to right real slow like (this has always been a standard Klecko move, using the dramatic pause to add just,,,,enough tension.
"Well......leave it to the Pollack to come in and mess things up for the Gerry's huh? Sorry Anna."
I tell you in complete seriousness, I was certain that would start the show off with a bang. but, nobody laughed. They just looked like 108 deer with their eyes caught in the headlights. Then from the back an old womans voice screamed something in German, it sounded like swearing, but I looked to Lola and asked if that was German for Give us Barrabas and she actually started to chuckle.
As the presentation went on, I started to talk about my sourdough starter, and how it is customary for bakers to name theirs after a woman they loved. I named mine Annalisa after my neighbor who was Mormon. Her family pretty much raised me (you can read about that in Klecko and the Mormons posting) and Annalisa was the youngest of their clan. she was 2 or 3 years younger than me.
When I was in baking school, it wasn't unusual for me to come home to my efficiency and find her plop a**ed in front of my TV with all of my beer consumed. she even made pyramids with the empty's so if I came home after she left.....I would know it was her that drank them.
She wouldn't even leave me a single drop, why.....because she knew thats how much I loved her. She was really tall and had a Dayrl Hannah torso, so she often stole my leather jackets and dress shirts. During this period of time she was also discovering her sexuality. she was dating some women and to be honest, it freaked her out cuz I don't think she knew if she was gay or straight, then when you toss in the God stuff, it can be pressure packed. Sometimes she'd bring it up and i'd interupt her and ask "Do you want my last cigarette?" The pack might have been full, it didn't matter, the point was when she was depressed I told her that she could take anything I owned off my Turd Island...even my last smoke.
A couple years later she went to Chicago and was partying with friends and then had a toxic shock reaction to tampons. She knows I love her because I would never type the "T" word for anybody else. It's against guy rules.
I got the call telling me about this around Midnight. I was mixing Doughs at SuperMom's and told my boss I had to go. I was young, and wasn't sure if I even had enough money for gas. When I got there I would visit briefly, because Klecko hates medical. Annalisa was bloaded and had tubes in her nose and her family surrounded her and they all looked like they wanted to die real quick before she left us.
I just sat next to her and told her jokes, and explained to her who I hated because I knew that she would like that. I was too ashamed to tell her family that I had no money, so I just slept in downtown parking lots in the back seat of my Nova.
So all of this is racing through my mind. The Germans are staring at me, totally enthralled in my sourdough starter description.....then I feel the worst feeling a real guy can feel. I felt like people might feel when they are gonna cry, but I wasn't sure since Klecko never cried much.
I was less sure what was going to take place in the next couple minutes than anybody. So I looked at Sue McGleno, and I could tell from the look on her face, I was doomed. Good wives know their husbands better than they know themselves. When I asked her later, she tried to defuse the weirdness by telling me that she always knew that I was a little softer than she cared for. But yeah, I started crying in front of all of them. and when you haven't cried in years and try to stop it, it only gets harder, and your face makes weirder expressions.
It might has been the worst moment of my life that was not attached to trauma.
Lola stood up and walked over to me real briskly, and she hugged me. And then the Germans just got up and went to the bar. I didn't even finish my presentation, but that didn't matter. all these lovely people took turns buying my beer and schnapps.
I confessed to my embarrassment, but then Anna...the doily lady handed me a stein of something and assured me it's not bad to cry for the people we love.
I will never forget the kindness and hospitality that the Germans showed me that night.
And w/o a doubt.....they really are the best bakers in the world.