27 September 2008

My own little private Oktoberfest

In Munich, capital of the Bavarian Free State in Germany, this is the second weekend of the annual Oktoberfest, the world's oldest and largest beer festival, which is celebrated this year for the 175th time. (see my entry from September 21st)

It is a long time now that I lived there, but I still have good memories of those years.
Even though I have never been a fan of crowds, noise and large celebrations, I did visit the Oktoberfest while I was living literally on its doorstep. There were always friends who would go anyway, and so I went along with them, drinking a few beers, eating traditional food and then having a congenial Virginier cigar with another beer or a coffee.

I haven't been back since I moved to Ireland, and I really don't miss it. But even a serious man like me who is not very emotional has his sentimental moments. I am a human being after all...

So when I encountered - quite unexpectedly - the stall of a traditional German bakery on the annual French Market here in Waterford today (see my earlier entry below), I was touched in a rare and positive way. For the first time in nearly two decades I saw Brezn and Salzweckerln (traditional Bavarian glazed bread roles, sprinkled with large salt crystals) right in front of me, and I could hardly believe my eyes and my luck.

There was no possibility to pass the stall without buying some of them. Sentimental feelings and old memories were much too strong. So I bought a couple of each and went home a happy man.
But on the way it dawned on me that this was only one element of the traditional Bavarian meal, known as a Brotzeit. To make it complete, I would also need some Weisswurst (white sausage), a Radi (large white radish, also known as Muli, as depicted here) and some Bavarian beer, preferrably from Munich. Sweet Bavarian mustard, which is the final ingredient to make it perfect, I have at home anyway.

So I made a little detour and stopped at ALDI, a German supermarket nearby, which has all the traditonal German food, as well as the usual Irish items. I found what I was looking for, including original Spaten beer from Munich, the very same that is served in the Schottenhamel beer hall at the Oktoberfest. (The Schottenhamel is traditionally the place where the Mayor of Munich declares the festival open by tapping the very first keg of beer himself.)

I should mention that I am a vegetarian for more than ten years now, and that I seldom drink alcoholic beverages. But I am not a fanatic and there is no ideology behind my choice to live on a vegetarian diet. And as much as I abstain from meat and meat products normally, an authentic Munich Brotzeit simply needs Weisswurst. It wouldn't be the same without it.

So this is a very special day for me, and earlier this evening I sat down and had my Brotzeit with everything one would have in Munich. I even put a CD with traditional Bavarian music into my player, to make it a perfect experience and celebrate my very own little private Oktoberfest here in the heart of Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland.

The Emerald Islander


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