From Germany to Vevay: Good food and memories
Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:00 AM
When Johanna Welch and her husband, Jim, visited a food stand at the Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay more than 40 years ago, she was looking forward to a meal that reminded her of growing up in Germany.
Johanna Welch has written a book, “The German Corner of Switzerland County: A Love Story” (Staff photo by Ken Ritchiefirstname.lastname@example.org)
Welch said she saw a sign for Swiss cheese and bratwurst. But she said the food wasn't like anything she remembered.
"Bratwurst means 'fried sausage,'" Welch said, yet her purchase was disappointing. While the food was sausage, it wasn't fried and it was cold.
Friends suggested she serve German food.
The rest is history.
The couple owned and operated "The German Corner," which eventually extended to dinner events at their home, for four more decades before selling the food booth, closing their home to tours and retiring.
Even though the business has closed, memories live on through Welch's book, "The German Corner of Switzerland County: A Love Story."
Welch's books tells the story of how the couple first met in Germany in the late 1950s while Jim, was serving in the Army and of her journey to the United States to marry and live with her soldier sweetheart on his family's farm in Switzerland County.
The book also tells the story their business that became known for its cuisine throughout the area, even though neither had ever thought about opening a business - let alone traveling with a food booth.
Welsh didn't cook much while living in Germany, she said, but she cooked most of the food for "The German Corner" herself.
"I really didn't know anything about cooking when I came over here," Welch said.
She learned from a German cookbook and taste-tested to make sure the recipe matched what she remembered from her childhood. Even though the "The German Corner" began with just bratwurst, the menu expanded to include wiener schnitzel, Polish sausage, red cabbage, apple strudel and her famous Black Forest torte.
The couple spent years traveling to events in surrounding states with their food booth, as well as attending local festivals such as the Canaan Fall Festival, Chautauqua Festival of Art, and the Swiss Wine Festival. In one year, the Welches traveled to 22 different events.
"The Lord blessed us with that business," Welch said.
Welch met many people over the years, including visitors that had traveled to Germany or other German natives that had moved to the United States.
"To them, it was so nostalgic," she said.
In the late 1980s, the business expanded again. A friend in the bus tour industry asked if the Welches might cook for the visitors on a tour of the Switzerland County area. The couple agreed and soon began hosting tour groups in their home where they entertained with stories from Welch's hometown of Kirchheim-Teck in Germany, as well as the story of how the couple met.
"They'd say, 'Oh you should write a book,'" Welch said.
So she did, even though it took years for her to finally agree to the idea.
"I never would have thought of going into business, or writing a book," Welch said.
About 10 years ago, Welch began to work on the book so many people had suggested. Welch included the recipes that guests were always asking for, as well as songs from her native home.
She also hopes her book serves as a history for her children and grandchildren - a way for "The German Corner" to live on for future generations.
Welch plans to share some of her memories from "The German Corner," as well as stories from her childhood and about her move to the Switzerland County area, during a book signing on Friday. Copies of her books will be available for purchase during the event at the Switzerland County Visitors Center, 128 W. Main St., from 6 to 9 p.m.