The wafting scent of almonds, apples and apricots draws the eye beyond the steaming teacup to the awaiting apple tart.
Apple tart is among the recipes offered in part four of Gerti Fuss’ A Chest Full of Hope; and greets guests to her North Saanich home.
The book is titled for the chest she had built for her first trip, emigrating from Germany to Australia at 20. The trunk she “could have sold hundreds of times” served as her luggage, toy trunk and is still stored in the basement.
“It’s about the chest, where the chest took us,” she said, a German accent still clear in her voice.
In the first 270 pages, of A Chest Full of Hope, she outlines her earliest days as Gerti Herrlich, training in hospitality, and meeting Karl Fuss; then jumps into the adventures of the couple’s early years. Fuss started the book seven years ago after retiring to the Peninsula. Settled into Dean Park, three daughters raised and enjoying their own adventures around the world, she found time on her hands. Each evening after watching the news she would wander down memory lane.
“I couldn’t write fast enough,” she said of the night sessions. “Writing the book was like therapy. Like I’m going to the shrink or something.”
First it was an exercise in documenting the family history, the choices Karl and Gerti made, the chances they took that led them to adventures in Australia, France and a highly celebrated bed-and-breakfast on Salt Spring Island.
“First I did it for the kids,” Fuss explained. Then there was the demand from friends and many people with memories of the bed-and-breakfast.
“They all knew one day I would write about it,” she said. “I never knew I could write.”
The island farmhouse was featured in magazines from Harrowsmith and Canadian House and Home to National Geographic Traveller and a Japanese language House and Home.
“It was the European touch, and the food,” Fuss says of the success on Salt Spring. “You have to give people the feeling you want them in your house.”
The timeline wraps with Karl and Gerti’s 50th anniversary.
Recipes fill the back half of the book and cover everything from German Christmas Stollen (a tasty Christmas morning breakfast) to a summer lemon sorbet. There is however, one omission. If you make the poppyseed muffins, add a couple teaspoons of baking powder.
The book is available at Tanners in Sidney.