Oh, how I Love to Schmeck!

Cowherd, Gwen Schock. "Oh, how I Love to Schmeck!" Northwest Blade, 30 October 2008, 10.

Eureka, South Dakota sponsored their annual Schmeckfest on September 19-21, 2008 to celebrate the town’s Germans from Russia heritage. My husband and I attended to do what we enjoy the most – schmeck. And schmeck we did. Our schmeck began on Saturday at Eureka’s Germans from Russia Pioneer Museum where we went to photograph my Grandmother Mehlhaff’s recently donated pump organ. We enjoyed the simulated barn scene with wood-carved animals and also the relocated church and school house buildings. The museum folk served knoepfla soup, kuchen and homemade butter with soda crackers. We ate the homemade butter, made onsite, without shame – cracker after cracker. It was soooo good! I almost didn’t get any prune kuchen but they looked again and found one. I knew I was close to home when prune was in demand.

Next, we attended the quilt show, the parade, and an accordion concert in the historic Lyric Theater. In between activities, I found myself in the drug store confessing to the clerk, a recent Twin Cities transplant, regarding my butter indulgence. She assuaged my guilt by saying that I ate an all natural product with no preservatives and not to give it a second thought!  So, then it was on to the real schmeck at the high school auditorium where several hundred people were in attendance. We, along with my mother Florence Schock from nearby Leola and Ila Reich, (a Eureka gal I met at the 2008 Germans from Russia convention, Casper, Wyoming) conversed and giggled between swallows of sausage, strudels with potatoes, green beans and kuchen. I, again, almost didn’t get my prune kuchen but I held my breath and sure enough they found another one among the pile baked by the famous Eureka Kuchen Factory. Now that I think about it, I suppose I could have settled for peach but….I don’t know….I wasn’t in a compromising mood. It had been a long day. I wanted my prune.

On Sunday we again drove from Leola to Eureka to schmeck at the Borscht Kettle restaurant where cucumber salad and halupsi were on the buffet menu. The potato salad was great. When it hit my tongue I sat up straight. I wanted the recipe. I tried to dissect the ingredients. The dissection called for a second helping.

After the buffet, we headed to the Methodist Church for the afternoon German service. It was a rare opportunity to hear a pastor [Rev. Clayton Schaffer] speak in the German Russian dialect. It brought tears to my eyes. Attendance was somewhat down because of competition from the tractor pull, but what can I say, church has always had to compete with other activities. After the service, we ate various kinds of bread (brot) with butter, of course, in celebration of the pastor’s theme. There was lots of maistub going on.  A lady at our table exclaimed, “Uff dah!” My ears burned. I nicely stated that I thought we were in “ay yi yi!” territory. She told me she’s originally from Colorado and not German Russian but she’s learning.

Yes, it was indeed a Schmeckfest and a very very good one at that. I’ve already scheduled next year’s on my calendar. Oh, how I love to schmeck!

Reprinted with permission of the Northwest Blade.

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