The weekend in Witzenhausen is full: Friday evening was the first of the Dinnerhopping events this year in Witzenhausen. The recurring event happens the first Friday of each semester and features progressive three course meals, each course cooked by a different group in a different house. For my partner and I the starter was a salad of dark greens and thick creamy dressing with a group of students in the dorms. We traveled to a shared flat in the center of town for a main dish with lots of cabbage wrapped meat, gravy and soup in a gold rimmed terrine. We then presented my grandmother’s pumpkin pie with whipped cream and rum filled eggnog at my partners flat outside of town. All the leftovers traveled with us to back to a communal space on campus where we finished it off, danced and talked late into the night.
My Saturday started with a Milchkafe and a Käse Früschtuck (cappuccino, bread, cheese, egg) in Dorothee’s Weiner Cafe (2Cats in 60 years) near the Steinstraße campus. Then hiking up the local mountain to collect some wild mushrooms (Wild Mushrooms in Germany) which we later fried in butter and ate with a local pilsner from the Schinkels Brauhause on the edge of town. Then off to the Blickershäusen Käsefestival to do some book binding, eat a whole lot of cheese, cake and bread, and to make stockbrot (bread dough spiraled around the end of a stick – probably a precursor to the American marshmallow but savory) over an open flame with teams of excited children.
Walking slowly through the woods looking for edible fungus puts all the talk about science and nature into perspective. The endophytic insects have left their maze filled mark on the bark under which some edible mushrooms were growing. The fallen leaves cast a shadow on the soil allowing more warmer moist ranges for the sprouting of treenuts and the flourishing of the fungus; the formerly stone-wall-stepped slope farmland on the sides of the mountain are held now by the trees which have re-inhabited, the soils are clearly thinner than the permanent forested sections.
The many bellies full of food this weekend have come from extremely thoughtful food-conscious people, much of it came from a local producer, the meat of our dinnerhoping dinner came directly from the farm where the shared flat goes once a week to collect its animal products. The dinner hopping event, the breakfast, the wild mushrooms and the Käsefestival all provided nourishment for my body and more. Witzenhausen is a community of people who know and care a lot about where their food comes from. This food awareness is a product of the academics and the kind of people it draws and it is a huge contributor to the education we are all getting here.