Mennonite Girls Can Cook is a collection of recipes which were posted daily for a period of ten years from 2008 to 2018. We have over 3,000 delicious recipes that we invite you to try. The recipes can be accessed in our recipe file by category or you can use the search engine.

Recipe Search

Saturday in Bev's Kitchen - Vaspa (Vesper)

While I was growing up we had Vaspa (low German) or Vesper (high German) for at least one evening meal each weekend.
Our mom would bake fresh zwiebach most Saturdays and they would be the star attraction at either Saturday or Sunday's evening meal (Vaspa).
If it was just our family around the table, the zwiebach were served with sliced cheese and various home made jams and jellies.

If company was present Mom would add some sort of cold meat - either cold Cutletten or Kotletten, sliced baked ham or farmer sausage and always, several kinds of pickles.
Sometimes she would make a Jello salad and/or a potato salad as well.

Dessert always consisted of a variety of Platz, bars and cookies.
 Mary Emma Showalter, writes in the "Mennonite Community Cookbook" that no good Mennonite hostess considered a meal for company to be complete unless there were
 "7 sweets and 7 sours" on the table served in pretty dishes.

My husband remembers his youth group gathering on Sunday nights at one home for Vaspa, and then moving on to the next home and to the next until the supply of zwiebach was exhausted.

 Vaspa  is still served in our homes now although I don't think as often as in years past.

Recently I served Vaspa as we celebrated my husband's birthday with our care group. 
There were no complaints!
The zwiebach were devoured and there wasn't a speck of Jello left!
At the end of the meal when everyone was finished their meal, the host or hostess would bless their guests at the end of the meal by saying
"Gesegnete Mahlzeit"
Literally translated it means "Blessed Mealtime" but for us as children it meant
"You can leave the table now!"

If you haven't served "Vaspa" before, try it sometime.
It is a simple meal that is easily prepared ahead of time.
Vaspa includes the following:

Buns (Zwiebach are the traditional choice!)
 (you can pick up fresh soft buns at your local supermarket or bakery
 if you'd rather not bake your own.)
butter and various kinds of jam or jelly
sliced cheeses
cold meat
(ham, farmer sausage and Cutletten would be the traditional choice)
Jello salad
raw vegetables and dip

Platz (traditional)
cake, cookies or bars

coffee and tea
 and, in days past, "Prips" or Postum"
Does anyone remember that?



  1. My father used to love zwiebach! Although I am not Mennonite, this brought back fond memories of German meals we were served at home while growing up. I love the idea of 7 sweets and 7 sours, and I will definitely include this meal in my plan for next week. I have to eat gluten free, so I guess no zwiebach for me! Also, I love the blessing at the end of the meal! My father used to call us for dinner with, "Schon zeit zu Essen!" which I think means "Time to eat!". Thank you for sharing this delightful post.

  2. I used to serve a cold meal like that for gatherings and I would just call them "cold plates" but I had plain bread rolls instead of the zwiebach. They were easy to prepare in advance.


  3. This brings back fond memories for me as well, my Mom always served faspa on Sunday afternoons but never with 7 sweets. My Mom passed away almost 25 years ago and that was one of the things that I really missed after she was gone. I think I might introduce my grown sons to faspa, I had showed our youngest the Zweiback that were posted on January 2nd and he thought they looked as if they would be good.

  4. Your spread brings back the memories, Bev! I grew up in a community where everyone had the same meal on a Sunday afternoon...and we called it 'faspa' (low German word for a light meal). As I recall, it wasn't always so light! The premise behind 'faspa' seemed to be that the food was all prepared on Saturday...making Sunday a true day of rest. And thanks for reminding me of the salutation at the end of the meal..."Gesegnete Mahlzeit". How nice to bless the guests around the table like that.

  5. One set of grandparents were 100% Norwegian and the other Scottish-English and we had Sunday night meals like that, too! I liked the cheese and the pickles.

  6. I grew up in a Mennonite home. We had faspa for supper every single Sunday whether it was just us or often with company around the table as well. Like Judy, for our family, the fact that Sunday was a day of rest was a significant reason for the Sunday faspa with all the food being prepared on Saturday. No housework or yardwork or anything was done on Sunday. I couldn't figure out why we still had to do the dishes after faspa though... Seemed like a contradiction to me. What a great
    memory you reminded me of. Theresa

  7. Faspa the food and fun with other families such fun memories! I think I will reintroduce this such a great way to entertain!

  8. This favorite meal was always our Christmas Eve when I was growing up. My Mom is Pennsylvania Dutch.

  9. We still do Faspa on Sunday evenings. Seems we're not even hungry for anything else on a day when we have a hot lunch already. If our kids decide to come over, they know what's being served. Most of them love it!
    One of our non-Mennonite in-laws is still a bit unsure about it and I just add a pizza from the freezer.

  10. I'm going to reintroduce this to our kids. They remember it from their grandmas and I'm sure our non-Mennonite in laws will luv it. Not sure about the zweibach though. Although I like them, but not enough to try to make them. Glad there are lots of bakeries around. Irene k

    1. They really are not that difficult to make. I taught my oldest grandson to make them last month, and he did a stellar job!

  11. Your table looks so inviting and similar to what I grew up with. Being of Amish Menn. background we didn't know the words zwiebach or platz but our Sunday supper table included fresh bread, cold meats (summer sausage or ham), homemade mustard, pickles, carrot and celery sticks, honey, jams, and usually there was pie or tapioca pudding for dessert. There was a prayer before the meal and a silent one at the end - giving us permission to leave the table as well. So blessed we were to sit around that family table!

  12. My grandmother's parents were Mennonite and my grandmother (not Mennonite) served the vaspa meal every Sunday supper as long as I could remember. Though she never called it that, vaspa is what it was :-) I love the tradition and my husband and I continue it now, though it is just the two of us. Thank you for explaining a part of my heritage!

  13. I grew up in Bakersfield, CA. My husband was born and raised in Chicago. We both had Mennonite parents, and Sunday evenings we ate the same kind of suppers. We can claim that the simplicity of the faspa supper opened the gateway for relaxed and often very active conversation. As youngsters we were allowed to drink Postum, and graduated to coffee as we got older. Faspa was always special... with just our family, or with visiting relatives... I remember my aunts' apricot pie!!! :-)

  14. It looks delicious but that just looks like a typical warm weather meal to me. We are Mennonite and Swiss. We take Sunday as our day of rest but my grandmas would not serve a cold meal like that if cold outside (Sept through April/May here) We do our cooking on Saturday for many items. Grandma Elisabeth we lived with still liked to use her wood cookstove when I was a child...She could put the food in there before church and would be ready when we got home...She always had a kettle of hot soup on the back. The stove is still in our kitchen but unused now. The crock pot or for larger gatherings, the nesco roaster serves now. Sunday eve meal , when cold as I said, is always soup and bread and cheese.

    We do not make zweiback. To me zweiback is a teething cookie for babies. I do have two Russian Mennonite aunts (sisters) who married to two of my uncles (brothers) and they will make those buns.

  15. One traditional dessert item I failed to mention is Perishke - fruit filled pastry - either in the "pie by the Yard" shape or in small squares with the pastry corners pinched together in the centre. And Jam Jams or other soft filled cookies would be served as well.