Hexenküche - the witches' kitchen

Mystery in Auerbachs KellerIn olden days, when making a wish still bore fruit...people would come from far and wide to deliver their wishes. The fulfilment of wishes - guaranteed by participation in the witches' kitchen ceremony.Goethe, too, was fascinated by the magic of the place and immortalised it in his major work "Faust". Located nine metres below the pavements of Leipzig, the historic Hexenküche has lost none of its mystery today. Visitors daring to descend can rejuvenate themselves or evoke their own secret, personal wishes under the ceremonial tutelage of the Cellarmaster.

Where wishes come true...

Numerous guests, including well-known celebrities, confirm this.

Parfümecke - the perfume corner

One day a regular guest, the legendary "Schorsch" Mayer, correct appellation: His Magnificance Prof. Dr. Georg Mayer, arrived at the crowded tavern unannounced. He preferred to sit alone , as he usually had work to complete. Looking around for a table, he found one in the "Parfumecke" and reluctantly took a seat. His wine was served to him promptly. Whilst he was waiting for his meal another guest, ignoring the "reserved" sign, approached the table in search of a place. He politely enquired whether he could take a seat, which was permitted, with the jocular comment that he would have to "pay his dues" for it. The newcomer complied and introduced himself: Meier. Whereupon the professor responded: also Mayer, and the two men laughed amusedly. Their revelry reached a climax with the arrival of a third guest, who also requested a seat and, having "paid his dues", introduced himself: Maier. Soon the group of Maiers was deep in conversation over their sparkling wine, in spite of the "Parfumecke". Rudolf Burgfeld, waiter anecdotes

The scissors

One waiter sarcastically described the scissors as his "most important tool" in the austere years following World War Two. He wrote:"The scissors were certainly no glorious highlight in the annals of gastronomy. But for 15 years they were one of the utensils of the waiter, who used them to cut out meat, fat, nutrition, flour and sugar coupons from the meager ration books that guests were required to present. Usually worn on a black cord, a strap or small chain, they dangled from the standard German waiter's suit. Waitresses secured the strap to their aprons or used a safety pin." Memories of a waiter

Hats off

"In major establishments such as Auerbachs Keller, where harpists would play until 2 in the morning, only particularly well-trained staff were to be found. It is no wonder that these establishments were particularly popular. A capella of female harpists was to be found in both the upper, more elegant cellar, particularly popular with families; and the lower Faustkeller, the furnishings of which comprised simple wooden tables with crossed legs and similarly simple chairs, frequented primarily by male guests. Life in the upper cellar was lively and animated, but those descending to the Faustkeller were required to be of good humour, as the atmosphere here was unconstrained, although not improper.

A general "hats off" would welcome the straitlaced fair visitor as he descended the steep steps to investigate the raucous noise emanating from the Faustkeller. Confused, the newcomer would peer down at the waving, cheering drinkers below.

And involuntarily raise his hat."Come down", came the call, and the newcomer, enticed by the cheerful atmosphere, would hurry down before disappearing into the bustling group of people..."

Adolf Lippold, youthful memories of an old Leipziger, 1895

Damned cellar air

" ...If you do go over, the street in front of the door is so precipitous that you stumble down the steps whether you intended to or not; once you are down, the room you are in is very well furnished, but that damned cellar air - you simply must drink a glass of Bischof or Burgundy and eat an anchovy salad with mussels, cervelat sausage, olives, capers, Luccan oil and so on - yes, the fixtures cost you a few guilders. ..."

E.T.A. Hoffmann, diary of experiences with the Leipzig "Italian waiters", 1813

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