Story & photo by Susan Huseman
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
Ingrid Arnold brings German culture to Americans — one bite at a time.
For almost 20 years, Arnold has taught Stuttgart military community members how to prepare traditional German dishes through the United Service Organizations Stuttgart.
During this time of year, Arnold shares her favorite German Christmas cookie recipes with her students.
“German cookies are more labor-intensive than American cookies,” she told a class of 11 students Dec. 4. “Each cookie is a piece of art.”
They are also meant to be served as a light snack, with coffee or tea. “They’re not meant to fill you up,” Arnold said. “If you’re hungry, eat a sandwich.”
After a discussion of ingredients, students were set to work slicing “Vanillekipferl” (almond crescent) cookie dough, rolling out Teegebäck (tea cake) dough, while others prepared dough for “Glühweinrauten” (mulled wine diamonds), “Honigkuchen” (honey cake) and “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread) — all under Arnold’s watchful eye.
She spotted a few imperfect cookies before they made it to the oven and had the students repair them.
“The eyes are eating too,” Arnold told the class. “Food has to look nice — especially cookies.
“I’m very picky,” she admitted, but her insistance on perfection does not squelch her students’ enthusiasm.
Many, like Mary Hunsaker, are repeat students. This was her fourth cooking class with Arnold in six months. “I’ve learned to make Apfelkuchen, Rouladen and Spätzle,” she said.
The Dec. 4 session was Hunsaker’s second Christmas cookie class. “There are so many to learn how to make,” she added, as she heated up a sauce pan of honey for the Honigkuchen.
Teaching Americans is second nature to Arnold. She also teaches for the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart German Head Start program, educating newcomers about the local language, culture, customs and courtesies.
But she said this isn’t the only way to get acquainted with the German way of life. “You can learn the culture also by eating and drinking,” she said.
For these students, it’s a sweet lesson that’s easily devoured.
The USO and Arnold will offer German cooking classes in the USO kitchen on Jan. 22 and Feb. 26.
For more information, visit www.uso.org/Stuttgart or call 431-3505/civ. 07031-15-3505.