Cajun’s Delight @Katchina Supper Club
Last Saturday I went for my second supper club adventure here in Cologne, and to say it right away: The only thing I should regret that night was my decision to go there by bicycle. About half way it starts pouring like a waterfall, making us leave little baby-waterfalls when we enter the corridor of Ms Katchina’s and Mr Oger’s private home. Our co-diners are already enjoying their welcome drink in the living room whilst we get rid of our soaked coats and umbrellas before joining them. After a quick introduction round we are offered an appetizer, sweet potatoe wedges on sour cream seasoned with lime juice and chilli – a delicious start! In the background we see a table set for 10 people, squeezed in between the sofa, the bookshelves and a sideboard. No doubt, this is truly a private supper club, not a commercial operation in disguise, just pretending to offer a home-style dinner experience. In their daytime jobs, our hosts have nothing to do with cooking and gastronomy: The lady of the house is working for a translation agency, her husband is an IT professional. Later on that evening it turns out that he and I once worked for the same company: Small world, and lucky me that he couldn’t figure out from my reservation email why my name sounded familiar to him: Because Katchina Supper Club follows the strict rule to not invite anyone they already know.
“Cajun Delight” is the culinary motto of the night, reflecting our hosts’ passion for the Southern United States, in particular Louisiana and New Orleans. Our dinner starts with a bowl of Filé Gumbo, a thick and dark soup or stew with chicken and a Chorizo-type of sausage: Very tasty and perfect for warming heart and soul on a rainy autumn night! Ms Katchina and Mr Oger eat together with us and instruct us on various spices and seasonings spread over the table. We also learn that the term “Cajun” stands for the descendants of French colonists from Canada. Some of them settled down in Southern Louisiana after they had lost their lands in a not so friendly meet-up with the Brits in the 18th century. This way, French cooking traditions got mixed with local cuisine and ingredients, which created the Cajun style. It is similar to Creole cuisine but considered more rustic and hearty – and also more spicy. What both have in common is the “Holy Trinity”, meaning peppers, onions and celery, the basic ingredients for pretty much any dish. As we see, the influence of the Catholic Church doesn’t even stop at the kitchen door.
The next course is Bayou Salad with caramelized Pecan nuts, thin slices of apple and a light blue cheese cream. It’s a lovely combination that was even able to break my – so far firmly believed unbreakable – resistance against blue cheese (Fungus on my food??? No, thanks!). What also deserves special mentioning is the wine pairing. For each course Mr Oger comes up with a different suggestion, and from my experience I would say: Just follow blindly, you won’t regret. Our main dish is a Seafood Jambalaya, a spicy rice dish with shrimps and crayfish, undoubtedly a close relative of the Spanish Paella. From white wine, we now change to a velvety red Zinfandel from California, wow! Time passes quickly over food, wine and conversations. To our surprise it’s not very far from midnight when we get to the dessert: A perfectly soft Louisiana Bread Pudding with cranberries, Bourbon sauce and home made vanilla ice cream – simple but wonderful!
You may call me an ignorant, but until now Cajun food wasn’t really on my radar. Not surprisingly, we Europeans generally associate American food culture with a supersized yellow M, or on a larger scale the downfall of Western civilization as a whole. Katchina Supper Club has very nicely closed that gap for me – at the extremely fair price of €35 for 5 courses including wine, coffee and digestives. Not to forget a small sample jar of Ms Katchina’s home-made Cajun spice mix we were all given as a souvenir.
On my way back home – now under a cloudless sky full of stars – I am hoping my name will sink into oblivion. Otherwise I will have no chance to be invited again… Anyone else, take your chance and check out Katchina Supper Club’s Facebook Page.