Yesterday’s Sparkling Vintage moment was a French concept, joie de vivre. Today we’re thanking the Germans for kaffeeklatsch, a term that dates back to 1888, from kaffee (coffee) and klatsch (gossip or chitchat).
The website etymonline.com quotes Mary Alden Hopkins from a 1905 cooking magazine: “The living-room in a German household always contains a large sofa at one side of the room, which is the seat of honor accorded a guest. At a Kaffeeklatsch (literally, coffee gossip) the guests of honor are seated on this sofa, and the large round table is wheeled up before them. The other guests seat themselves in chairs about the table.” Although any beverage, coffee or tea, can be consumed, a kaffeeklatsch carries a less formal connotation than a tea party.
Here in North America throughout much of the 20th century, kaffeeklatsches were enjoyed by homemakers, who might take a break from household chores mid-morning or midafternoon to gather with neighbors around one of their kitchen tables for coffee and chitchat. Now, with many women working full-time and those at home too busy to sit and chat for an hour, the kaffeeklatsch tradition has pretty much fallen by the wayside (although there’s a loose workplace approximation–the coffee break). Perhaps the modern equivalent is the playdate, where parents chat while their children play together. It doesn’t seem like quite the same thing, though.
Perhaps we need a kaffeeklatsch revival–well, maybe not the gossip part, but certainly the caffeine and conviviality. And the coffee cake. Here’s a recipe from a 1950s church cookbook to inspire you.
CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tb. butter, melted
1/2 c. milk
1 well beaten egg
Sift all dry ingredients together, then add the melted butter, milk and egg. Put in wide shallow pan and sprinkle with granulated sugar and cinnamon. Bake 20 minutes in moderate oven (350 degrees F.).
The recipe writer notes with brutal honesty, “This is good with morning coffee but should be made just before eating. It isn’t good after it stands.”
Do you think the kaffeeklatsch is a tradition worthy of reviving? Why or why not?
I’ll be giving a couple of these mugs away as door prizes at the book launch party here in Idaho on September 17. But I’ll bet a whole lot of you Sparklers won’t be able to make it to Idaho that day. And that hardly seems fair. So I’ve decided to also give away 2 mugs here on the blog as well. There are two ways to enter:
(1) You can leave a comment below, finishing this sentence: “One person I’d love to have coffee with is______________because ______________” (The person you choose can be fictional or real, living or long-gone.)
(2) You can sign up for my quarterly e-letter (look to the right for the sign-up form).
On the evening of September 17, I will draw 2 names at random to receive one of these special mugs plus a copy of You’re the Cream in My Coffee (signed, if you want). The names will be drawn at random from commenters and e-letter subscribers.
I’ll start. One person I’d love to have coffee with is Erma Bombeck, because we would laugh until our sides ached, and all the jokes would be clean, proving it can be done.
Okay, your turn.