Zum röhrenden Hirsch // Krefeld
What happens if a food lover – let’s call her Ms. Deer – spends 1 year studying in the UK? She gets back to Germany and starts a supper club in her living room. Not in trendy Berlin but – surprise: In Krefeld. “Zum röhrenden Hirsch” it’s called, “The belling deer”, a name that brings up memories of provincial eateries with dark wooden furniture and wall panelling, dusty plastic flowers and a bottle of Maggi seasoning on the tables – and of course oil paintings of dubious taste overlooking the scenery.
But no worries, this deer is part of a new generation. It’s only playing with the image of traditional cooking culture that did need no frills or chichi ingredients. What you can expect from this supper club is just good food at an affordable price, based on seasonal fruit and vegetables from the region or otherwise from organic producers – and water. If you want to drink something else: BYO, which means bring your own wine, beer, coke, mineral water from the Fiji Islands or whatever you might like. Sounds a little weird to you? BYO is quite common practice for supper clubs, mainly because selling alcohol requires a special license in most countries. And private hosts usually don’t have such a licence. However, for an additional charge of approximately €10 “Zum röhrenden Hirsch” might offer a corresponding wine arrangement in the future. The suggested donation for the menu itself is somewhere around €20, rather less than more, making friends argue that she sets the price far too low. But it’s important to Ms. Deer that nobody gets excluded for reasons of money, so she keeps to her cost price policy.
She describes herself as a passionate cook (and baker) since always – and a cookbook-worm with a special interest in historical recipes. Every now and then she visits the Cookbook Museum in Dortmund for browsing the archives, studying for example the Renaissance art of baking. Last summer in an antiquarian bookshop, she got hold of a German translation of recipes from Apicius, a Roman chef from the first century. This was quite an adventurous acquisition, not only because flamingo meat is rather hard to find these days. Also, she didn’t share the Romans’ excessive appetite for mashed sweetbread (don’t be fooled by the name, dear readers, sweetbread is not what it sounds like: It’s animal brain). But she found a couple of dishes that almost 2000 years later are still a delight to our palate. That’s at least the enthusiastic feedback received from her supper club guests who recently joined the historical Roman feast named “They are crazy, these Romans”. For those who didn’t go but wonder how Roman food tastes: Nothing like today’s Italian cooking at all, much more it reminds of Turkish or other Eastern country’s cuisine. One of the recipes from that crazy Roman night can be found here.
Anyway, this is just the latest example for Ms. Deer’s “playing with food” as she calls it. Before that, she did a traditional British Sunday roast in August (to show the English can cook) and in September invited for a culinary trip to India. A vegetarian option is always available. The next event on November 11th will be a stylish French dinner, guests are expected to come in evening wear. A maximum of 12 people will then have the chance to eat from her beautiful 1950s vintage plates. Very well possible that Ms. Deer’s father will be one of them. He has become a big fan of “Zum röhrenden Hirsch” and joins whenever he can – either for enjoying his daughter’s cooking, or as a substitute for the dishwasher that didn’t fit into the 8 square metres kitchen.