Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 in Adventures in Germany, friendship, Hospitality, Inspiring, Kitchen, Life Philosophy, Memoir, Personal, Uncategorized | 9 comments

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Garden Stammtisch

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
~ Henry Valentine Miller

To say living in Germany changed us is an understatement.

 

We lived in southern Bavaria which we often compared to Mayberry–the second week we were there I was already running into people I knew at the grocery store.

Dirndl - a German Princess Dress!

Me and my sweet, sweet friend and relocation agent, Vanessa, after we had gone to Oktoberfest and on our way to see FC Bayern Munich play fußball. A FANTASTIC, memorable day!

Germans are a people rich in tradition. From the incredible Christmas markets, to festivals and even clothing (dirndl and lederhosen), they don’t wear pride in country on their sleeve, it is their sleeve.

It’s hard to chose a favorite tradition – they’re all that much fun and interesting – but one in particularly flirts with the top of my list:  Stammtisch

A loose translation for Stammtisch is “regulars’ table.” If you visit Germany and notice signs above tables with a name, it means that table is reserved for a group of people with a weekly reservation.

The German tradition of Stammtisch at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich

Stammtisch signs at the famed Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

No matter how crowded the restaurant becomes, they’ll hold a table for a group they know will show up week after week, even if it sits empty for a while.

During our year there, I attended two Stammtisch gatherings: a dinner one for ex-pats that included my husband and his co-workers; the other for women who speak English, meeting twice monthly for breakfast in homes.

Table Scenes from a German Breakfast Stammtisch - meats, breads, pretzels and more

Images from several of our German Breakfast Stammtisches. A German host would always have assorted meats, cold cuts and sausages–not the traditional Jimmy Dean pork links or ground sausage! We’d always have pretzels and assorted breads, cheeses, fruit, coffee, juices and tea. No grits, no bacon; if an American hosted, we might have muffins or some sort of casserole, but always different than a typical American brunch.

 

I loved the tradition so much, I was determined to bring it back to the States when I returned.

 

And after a delay or three, I finally did.

I don’t think I’ve ever thrown as mix-matched a party. Fifteen people had RSVPed, and I had to scrounge for enough coffee cups and plates to accommodate my guests. Though I over invited what I had room for, I trusted the people who were “supposed” to show up, would. Of course I was disappointed not everyone could come, but the up-side was sufficient breathing room in our small entertaining space.

An American Breakfast Stammtisch

Large, soft pretzels are a staple for German breakfasts so I HAD to have some at my inaugural Stammtisch. A few fun mentions in this collage: the candle under the pretzel picture was a gift from my sweet friend, Shelly Wildman; it’s an Ella B. neighborhood candle featuring her hometown scent “Wheaton”–I always think of her when its lit. Also, Jill Anderson gave me the darling “Thankful for…” chalkboard as a housewarming gift when we moved to Macon & I think of her every day when I look at it. Last, I LOVE my gerberas and spider mums in the Queen Anne’s Lace pitcher from Mary & Martha (get one while they’re still available).

 

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read A Little Gastfreundschaft {“hospitality” in German}, a companion piece I wrote about Stammtisch for the wonderful new site Grace Table; in it I share how Stammtisch reminded me in a very real sense Who I am, and why I was forced to delay beginning a Stammtisch upon our return home (which also explains why we moved). I’ve also found the pictures I took at the first Stammtisch I ever attended.

Stammtisch has been incredibly formative and affirming, and I’ve been surprised but delighted by the enthusiastic response to Stammtisch here. When we get together, we linger around the table and no one is in a hurry to leave. Each hostess has made the gathering special in her own way.

And maybe the best thing about Stammtisch is it’s never about performance or perfection; it’s about people.

Stammtisch friends

 

Does this sound like something you’re interested in trying? I’ll cheer you along and help you any way I can. Got questions? Please ask in comments!

(And DaySpring has created a new line to add beauty to your pursuit of friendship–
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