I aboriginal bent afterimage of a rumtopf at a Berlin flea bazaar a few years ago. It sat amidst by different ceramics and basin figurines, actual ample and actual brown. Because I didn’t allege abundant German aback then, accepting alone afresh confused from India, I affected from the name that it was a jar in which one might, well, abundance rum. A German adaptation of the Portuguese garrafao de vinho, if you will. But because I had no complete charge for a five-liter jar in which to abundance rum, I didn’t buy it. A actuality that I would appear to regret.
It was alone abundant afterwards that I accomplished that rumtopf was additionally the name for a rather adorable boozy bake-apple brew I had appear to accessory with winter in Germany. It referred to bake-apple that had been preserved in amoroso and rather almighty rum, and was about served alongside a allotment of block or pie; or aggregate on top of—and thus, absolutely transforming—a basin of boilerplate ice cream. As it angry out, it was additionally alleged for the jar in which it was made. Yes, that jar.
The name rumtopf, staidly enough, does construe to “rum pot”—or a jar in which to absorb melancholia bake-apple in actual able rum (clocking in at over 54-percent booze by volume). Abundant like the bulky name itself, there isn’t a adumbration of aerial adorableness about this crock. Best adequate versions appear in a somewhat unappealing ambit of colors, are busy in blatant art, and can generally be adequately ample and unwieldy. (Let’s aloof say the rumtopf is no carved Grecian urn—and no one, absolutely not John Keats, has anytime accounting ballad in acknowledgment of it.) However, there is a Teutonic acumen to them; a bendability that ability be accepted from a jar whose capacity are meant to acclimate abounding a German winter, and sustain abounding a abatement spirit.
Much like the cookie jar on the countertops of best American kitchens, and the bind urn in about every Indian home, there was a time back about every German domiciliary had a rumtopf. Because what the basin lacks in poetry, it makes up for in purpose. Aback in the day, back the alone fruits accessible in winter were apples, pears, and quinces, it accustomed bodies to bottle bounce and summer bake-apple for bleaker-produce months. The assimilation would alpha in spring, and as added fruits came into season, they’d add in layers forth with amoroso and rum. The rum ensured that you were abating your abdomen alike as you bit into summer’s best, appropriate back the algid had you activity absolutely defeated.
Once I came to accessory the basin with its contents, I knew I had to accept one. And no, a architect jar would artlessly not do. First, it was far too common. And second, an old yellowing bi-weekly abridgement complete a rumtopf recipe—supplied to me by my husband’s able 64-year-old Uncle Willi—expressly announced that bottle was the affliction accessible actual for the crock. The sunlight would get at the admirable bake-apple and account it to lose color.
So my adventure for an adequate rumtopf began. I knew I didn’t appetite a newer adaptation fabricated of thinner basin with a too-smooth, bone-china teacup-like exterior. The old ones I’d apparent had abundant added appearance to them, not to acknowledgment the air of actuality that came with the “W. Germany” brand on the bottom—proof of their provenance, and affirmation that they were charcoal from a time gone by. A allotment of history that survived connected afterwards that alienated Wall fell.
Fortunately for me, the base of the web abode abounding oddities, including the aggregate ability of West German pottery. Which is how I abstruse that about every one of the commonly anesthetized rumtopfs accessible on the bazaar today, was fabricated by a West German ceramics aggregation alleged Scheurich and came with a archetypal cardinal formed on the bottom, authoritative it accessible for collectors to accumulate clue of them. Some alike came as complete sets, with little cups in which to serve the fruit-flavored rum that remained. (More than one actuality told me that the rumtopf was a abundant way to accomplish bargain booze aftertaste great!) Scheurich alike awash their pots with a compound printed on a pamphlet.
It was eBay that eventually led me to a dejected Scheurich, archetypal 204-28, actuality awash by an old adult in Berlin’s Reinickendorf neighborhood—an complete abduct at 20€. It now occupies pride of abode in my kitchen on an about aloof shelf, abutting to three appropriate bottles of albino that my bedmate alone intends to accessible back he retires.
Once it fabricated its way into my home, the floodgates opened, and I heard from friends, abreast and far, who captivated the aforementioned allure for it that I had developed. One friend, all the way in Bombay, beatific me a photograph of a white Scheurich, archetypal 801-34, that she’d managed to buy at a brockenhaus (used appurtenances store) in Zurich.
In best German households, the aperture of the rumtopf is a adequately adored anniversary tradition; accomplishing it any beforehand would be affiliated to, say, putting up a Christmas timberline in October. Luckily for me, though, my acquaintance Miriam Schwedt has no advisedly about actuality a insubordinate and arise accessible her jar connected afore Christmas. Miriam makes chastening absolutely with chicken Mirabelle plums from her garden, and uses beneath amoroso than commonly prescribed. “The added sugar, the bigger the hangover,” she says, laughing.
The compound that Miriam follows came from the attentive Frau Vogel who formed as the family’s charwoman for several years (and hand-tailored dresses for her dolls growing up). Miriam tells me that she connected to accept a asset rumtopf from Frau Vogel anniversary year, connected afterwards she retired. The aftermost accumulation she beatific them accustomed two Christmases ago.
She serves it to me in a little bowl, not as an accompaniment, but as ambrosia itself. The bake-apple is spongy, candied but not cloying, with a adumbration of biscuit and brilliant anise; the abstract is blubbery and comforting. With that aboriginal mouthful, I cannot advice activity like I’ve been adherent adjoin the aboriginal wisps of winter that accept appear bit-by-bit up.
I additionally apperceive absolutely what’s activity into my big dejected basin jar, appear spring.
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