'Cooking like Elvis' class to deliver down-home, southern style goodness
June 4, 2012
- "I'm not saying I'm the best cook, but I do put a lot of love into what I cook, and I want people to enjoy my food."
HOHENFELS, Germany -- When Elvis Aaron Presley served as a U.S. Soldier in Germany, he brought his grandmother along to prepare his favorite southern recipes. During the "Elvis Presley -- well camouflaged in the Oberpfalz" exhibition at the Oberpfaelzer Volkskundemuseum (Oberpfalz Folk Museum) in Burglengenfeld, Hohenfels community member Gregory Harvey will be sharing some down-home southern dishes of his own in his "Cooking like Elvis" class.
"I saw an ad in the news briefs last year, that the museum was going to be celebrating Elvis, and they needed a cook teach some American cooking courses," Harvey said. "I've been a cook for almost 30 years. I could do that."
The Elvis exhibition runs through Aug. 19 and provides an excellent overview of Elvis' time in Germany, including while stationed in Grafenwoehr, with placards tracing his adventures in English and German. Vintage magazines, newspapers, albums and more fill several rooms.
"The memorabilia was all donated by fans and collectors who loved Elvis," said museum curator Dr. Margit Berwing-Wittl. "They have kept the singles, music, everything for more than 50 years, never lost or sold them."
One of the highlights is a piano that Elvis played during an impromptu concert for a small gathering of friends and family in 1958 at the "Mickey-Bar" in Grafenwoehr. The bar is long gone, but the piano has graced the foyer of the Hotel Russweiher in Eschenbach-Grosshotzenreuth for years. It has never before been loaned to any museum exhibition.
Berwing-Wittl said every summer the museum features a different exhibit from around such far-flung places as Africa, Turkey or the United States. With every display, they also do a cooking class from the same region.
"I want to do things that they can actually go out on the German economy and pick up the stuff," Harvey said. "It wouldn't make any sense if I bought everything at the commissary and they can't."
Harvey will run two classes, on June 13 and 15, respectively. The menu for the first night includes fried chicken wings, southern fried catfish, potato salad, and homemade apple pie. On the 15th, he plans a full-out barbecue, with ribs, hamburgers, chicken noodle salad and baked beans.
"And they requested peanut butter and jelly," laughed Harvey, noting that Elvis was fond of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. "That threw me a little, but I said no problem."
Berwing-Wittl said the classes were sold out right away, and that the participants are especially excited.
"It's going to be hands on," said Harvey. "They are actually going to help me prepare the stuff and then we're going to sit down and eat."
Harvey learned the tricks of his trade while serving as a mess management specialist on the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier where over 18,000 meals are served each day.
"I wanted to do this to get out there and have better relationships with the local people," said Harvey. "I'm not saying I'm the best cook, but I do put a lot of love into what I cook, and I want people to enjoy my food. I'm going to put out 100 percent so they get a good impression that we don't eat just hamburgers," he added.
Other special activities during the exhibition include concerts, Elvis impersonators, and talks with authors, including Peter Heigl who wrote the book "Sergeant Elvis Presley in Grafenwoehr." For a full list including dates and times, visit www.burglengenfeld.de/html/volkskundemuseum.