Oma’s Kitchen

Pro­vid­ing a taste of Ger­many on the Cana­dian Prairies

More of Our Canada - - Contents - by Emma Mel­drum

“Take the high­way go­ing south from Tis­dale, then go west at the auc­tion­eer’s. After seven miles, head south, then go west again after a mile. We’re the big wooden cabin, you can’t miss us.”

Burga Kal­tenbach’s di­rec­tions were clear enough, but I still man­aged to get lost both times I vis­ited her.

I was writ­ing a se­ries of sto­ries for the Tis­dale Recorder about ven­dors at our lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket, and while in­ter­view­ing Burga, she of­fered to show me the brick oven her hus­band Bernard had built for her.

The first time I tried to visit Burga, I stum­bled upon one of Saskatchewan’s many gems, a church tucked away on a grid road, with the front door un­locked. I was late al­ready—why not check it out? I had re­cently moved to Saskatchewan from On­tario and was ea­ger to ex­plore the area.

When I fi­nally ar­rived, Burga gra­ciously ac­cepted my apolo­gies for miss­ing our ap­point­ment and fed me some home­made bread and jam— after show­ing me the brick oven.

The sec­ond time I went, how­ever, I didn’t have time to be late. I was on my way over for sup­per. I was go­ing to eat at Oma’s Kitchen.

You see, Burga, Bernard and her daugh­ter Vic­to­ria Burger run the South Star Re­treat, where they not only of­fer lodg­ing on the sec­ond storey of their beau­ti­ful log home, but also serve home­made Ger­man food.

They spend many days at farm­ers’ mar­kets in the sum­mer, sell­ing berries and home­made bread, but when you ask lo­cals about them, they’ll tell you about one thing: their tiny restau­rant known as Oma’s Kitchen—and with good rea­son.

HOME COOKING

The Kal­tenbachs de­signed their home and built it with their bare hands, from cut­ting and strip­ping the logs to stack­ing, num­ber­ing, tak­ing apart and then stack­ing again with holes in place for wiring and plumb­ing. They built it with one goal in mind: to share their space with peo­ple, to feed them and make them feel at home.

When I ar­rived at Oma’s, the cat was tucked un­der the wood­stove, the ta­ble was set and the trio was work­ing ca­su­ally in the kitchen. In a few min­utes, 20 guests would ar­rive, but no one was stressed.

“It doesn’t bother me,” says Burga from her spot be­side the stove. “Even in Ger­many, lots of the old restau­rants, they are in the same house as where the peo­ple are liv­ing.”

The Kal­tenbachs slight ac­cents, but more im­por­tantly, their cui­sine, give away the fact that they are from Ger­many. But from a young age, Bernard wanted to move to Canada.

“I wanted to go to Canada when I was still in

school,” he told me. “It was some­where I wanted to be. I was 16 and my dad said there’s no way you’re go­ing any­where. I had to wait for a while.” It did take them a few years to get here, but they’ve set­tled in. Re­mem­ber the way Burga gave me di­rec­tions? In miles—like any proper ru­ral Saskatchewa­nian.

And they ap­pre­ci­ate the same thing lo­cals do: wildlife in their back­yard, Prairie sun­sets and the beauty of bright-yel­low canola at the end of the sum­mer.

But they haven’t left their heritage be­hind. Oma’s menu boasts de­li­cious meats and beau­ti­ful sal­ads—think pur­ple pota­toes—but I’ll re­mem­ber her Ger­man noo­dles more than any­thing else.

I’ll also re­mem­ber how Burga, Bernard and Vic­to­ria sat with their guests once sup­per was over. They sent the kids to the play­room tucked away in an al­cove up­stairs and chat­ted with their guests like old friends.

Hav­ing lived in my adop­tive prov­ince for less than a year, I fi­nally felt at home, in some­one else’s house, at a ta­ble sur­rounded by strangers.

The Kal­tenbachs have a gift, be­yond their home­made bread and de­li­cious Ger­man cooking—the gift of friend­li­ness. Thanks to the warmth of their log house and their smiles, they make you feel wel­come... wel­come enough to put your feet up by the fire and stay a while. ■

Burga (left) bakes home­made bread in the brick oven built by her hus­band, Bernard.

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