For over 200 years Bavarians have been celebrating the Oktoberfest in Munich.
It started when King Ludwig 1 threw a party for his new wife Therese in 1810 at the Theresian Wiese. A large oval shaped meadow now in the middle of Munich. They had horse races, games and other skill testing competitions such as tree climbing and wood chopping and of course food and beer.
The Münchners love their Oktober fest. Women in their Dirndl Dress and the men in Lederhosen proudly show off the Bavarian Trachten outfits.
On the opening day a huge parade of 8000 participants including horse drawn Beer wagons, Dignitaries and Blasmusik (Umpapa)heading to the fairgrounds cheered by thousands of spectators.
It is custom that the incumbent Mayor of Munich zapfed ( taps)the first keg and draws the first Mass of Beer for the Bavarian Premier Minister. A mass is a litre of beer traditionally served in a stone and now in a glass Krug ( Stein) The Cost this year was 11 Euros.
Traditionally companies in Munich and surrounding area give Beer and Food coupons to their employees to spend with their family at the Oktoberfest.
There are about 6.5 million visitors each year from all over the world. During the 16 days about 6 to 7 million litres of beer are consumed. Not to forget the 90 000 l. of wine, the ½ million Rotisserie Chicken, 70 000 Pork hocks, thousands of sausages, 110 whole Oxen cooked on a spit, Fish for the open fire pit, Cheese, pickled Herring, Radishes, Pretzels, Lebkuchen Hearts, candied nuts……
Getting a seat in one of the many beer tents, each holding an average of 6-7 thousand visitors may be a challenge. Once seated with a Mass Beer in hand and some of the traditional food in your belly you are good to join in with the happy crowd toasting and singing with the sound of a Bavarian Blasmusik.
Ein prosit, Ein Prosit zur Gemütlichkeit Oans Zwoa Drei Gsuffa.
Just remember the beer is about 2 % stronger then normal beer and with all the encouragement by the band, singing a toast every 15 minutes you will be flying like a Bavarian Eagle in no time.
Perhaps this is the time to head out to the midway and take some of the many rides. The giant Ferris Wheel gives you a great view overlooking the entire Oktoberfest and parts of Munich. Just don’t lose the Sauerkraut while you are swirling around and around. You may try your skill in shooting an air rifle at one of the many shooting galleries. In case of tooo much beer you may want to skip the rides and the shooting all together and stay to the sweet end in the tent with all your new friends. Perhaps you will join the ranks of the Bierleichen.
If you have not been to the Oktoberfest, add it to your bucket list now and start planning. In my teens I lived 10 minutes from the Oktoberfest and can vouch for its excitement and authentic Bavarian madness.
Servos, saeng ma uns auf da Wiesn!
One of the popular dishes at the Oktoberfest is Schweinswürstl ( fried pork sausage ) with Sauerkraut
Here is a recipe for Sauerkraut as we cooked it at the Peterhof in München
1 can Sauerkraut (German made is best)
1 med. Onion, cut in to thin slices
250 g. Smoked Pork ( bacon, hock) not a must but it adds flavour!
1 Tbsp. Caraway seeds, Peppercorns, Bay leaf, Juniper berries
1 Tbsp. Sugar
½ l. Water
Rinse brine off sauerkraut, add all ingredients and bring to a boil with a lid on. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40 to 60 minutes. Adjust seasoning and moisture.
Keeps one week in the refrigerator.