by Domin

Christmas Canapés

An excerpt from the biography Hilde Domin, Dass ich sein kann, wie ich bin, by Marion Tauschwitz.
Their shared rituals around Christmas and New Year connected the Palms even across continents and oceans: on New Year’s morning Hilde Domin read, as always, from Goethe’s Faust, Part II, plunged further into the Bible even without Erwin there, and let her husband partake in the outcomes of the biblical prophecy far away across the seas. [...]
On Christmas Eve the florist presented Hilde Domin with a pink azalea from Erwin, which she arranged on the “pram” table. She took a rosemary bath and listened to a cassette of Christmas letters by famous men. She prepared canapés with asparagus tips, mayonnaise and a bit of roquefort. At tea time she had her beloved panettone, which she always stocked up on at Christmas time and also gave as presents to her friends. After that she watched a Christmas fairytale film on television; she loved children’s plays. Then she began to reply to the Christmas mail, which had become more and more abundant over the years, so that she gave in to the flood of it despite her iron discipline. When the last visitors had said goodbye on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve 1973, Hilde Domin remained alone at the “last corner of the year”; the day before, she had spoken with her husband “for six minutes from Heidelberg to Mexico. ‘How are you in your beloved tower?’ he asked. ‘I'm well into my work,’ I said. ‘Tomorrow I'll be finished. And soon I'll be ready to travel.’”

In the 60s one was often invited, not just in academic circles, for a little titbit in small gatherings where typical Schnittchen (canapés) were served – appetising to both eye and palate. And with little preparation time needed – not insignificant, given the fast-paced appointment-to-appointment lifestyle of these societies.

Use a dark bread, preferably – rye bread works well. Cut the bread in small quarters and spread with a thin layer of mayonnaise, enough that the asparagus tips (jarred) and a thin slice of roquefort sit firmly. Sprinkle with a pinch of paprika as a colourful garnish.

Then, enjoy! Heidelberg wishes you guten Appetit – because this is, in fact, just an “appetizer”.

Marion Tauschwitz studied German and English philology and literature in Heidelberg. She worked as a secondary school teacher and lecturer prior to becoming a writer. She was the private assistant and closest confidante of the poet Hilde Domin (1909–2006). In commemoration of the poet’s 100th birthday, she presented the widely acclaimed biography of Domin which was republished in 2015 by zu Klampen. Tauschwitz lives and works in Heidelberg. The International Women Writers Association awarded her the literary prize Author of the Year for her biography of Selma Merbaum, Ich habe keine Zeit gehabt zuende zu schreiben, published in 2014 by zu Klampen.

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Translation by Rod Rojas