Saturday, February 19, 2011

Back in Lubbock, Feuerzangenbowle beckons

Those of you of Old World origin—specifically Germany—will understand the title of this entry, yet for most it will be rather enigmatic. What the heck is a "Feuerzangenbowle" you ask, understandably confused. Use the magic Google and you will find that it is "a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugar loaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine." Well, I don't know why Wikipedia calls it a "sugar loaf" instead of a "sugar cone," but overall the definition is right. The liquid ingredients (cheap red wine, highly volatile rum in the 104 to 108 proof range) are supplemented by a cloves-spiked orange, a cinnamon-stick-reinforced lemon, and a few bags of Glühfix, which I had procured while in Austria. Always think ahead....

Only the best ingredients will do

Back in Germany, we'd bring out the Feuerzangenbowle set once or twice a year, usually in the dark of winter, when relatives or friends would pay a rare visit. Judy was so impressed with this custom that we bought our own set and started having annual Feuerzangenbowle parties at the house. A few weeks back, while having dinner with Alan and Martha, the innocuous question about when we'd have another Feuerzangenbowle party was posed. And so I decided to set another sugar cone aflame between my Munich and upcoming Paris trips.

I had invited an additional three couples (which would have really strained the seating capacity of the casa), but they had to bow out for various reasons. So, it was just seven of us: Wes and Susan, Carl and Terri, and of course A&M, the original instigators. They all descended upon my immaculately cleaned house (OK, somebody has to say something nice about my efforts!) around 7:30 p.m. Everyone was expected to bring some finger foods, and the lads augmented my twelver of Spaten Oktoberfest with plenty of designer brewskies. I had prepared a nice poo-poo platter with a Queso de Tetilla that I had picked up in Madrid, much to the merriment of Howard who like any man is fond of the shapeliness of that cheese.

Yes, it does look like the perfect tetilla!

Terry had brought some deftly seasoned crackers and was immediately chosen to always bring those to parties. (Judy had used a similar recipe for years.) Martha's gift to the world was a ropa vieja based hot dip, and Wes had brought many pounds of homemade sausage, which he expertly grilled on the Kamado. Damn, I didn't get a photo of the lads milling around him and keeping him supplied with beer, but here he is cutting up the spoils:

Wes cutting up the sausage; note the mulled wine in the foreground
The seven of us put a pretty serious dent into all of the foodstuffs (as well as the beer and a bottle of CHW Syrah for the ladies) before we embarked on the most important task of the evening: Setting the sugar cone on fire by liberally dousing it with 54% alcohol Hansen's and then 58% Wood's Old Navy rum. The sugar drips into the mulled wine, which we had heated on the stove, and the rum that doesn't burn off adds a nice extra little kick to the concoction! The flash-photography doesn't do it justice, as all this happens in a darkened room with everyone sitting around the table, gazing into the flames—but Martha's short video captures some of the aura. It's just a really social affair, and the more one drinks, the warmer it gets and the funnier the conversation seems to become.

Martha and Wes and the Feuerzangenbowle
It was around 11:30 when we called it an evening. It is safe to say that everyone left with a special glow—who wouldn't after having been set afire like that?

Time to start thinking about the next party....


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