by: Steven v. H. Shaffer
With over 6 million people attending, Oktoberfest is the world's largest fair held every year in Munich, Germany. Although the Volksfest (a large German event which combines a festival and a carnival) is famous for its beer and German steins, the festival is also a cornucopia of costumes, dancing, music and hearty traditional Bavarian food.
2010 will be the 200th anniversary of the original “Oktoberfest” which occurred on October 18, 1810 for the commemoration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (October 12, 1810).
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati USA, held in Cincinnati, Ohio since 1976 claims to be the largest Oktoberfest in North America with over 500,000 people attending each year (http://www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com).
Some typical German food enjoyed at Oktoberfest:
“Wurst” means sausage and “brat” derives from “brato”, the Old High German word for hacked meat. Bratwurst in the United States is usually served on a hot dog bun or with a hard roll and topped with assorted condiments typically used on hot dogs, such as mustard, onions, relish and sauerkraut. Bratwurst should be boiled before grilling to ensure that they are thoroughly cooked and picking up bratwurst fresh from your local butcher will make them a healthier alternative to hot dogs as they will not contain nitrates. However, smoked bratwurst (“krainerwurst”) will contain nitrates due to the smoking process.
Sauerbraten, one of the national dishes of Germany, is a German pot roast marinated in a brine of vinegar, water, wine and spices before cooking, usually three to four days. “Sauerbraten” translates as pickled roast meat. Typically made from beef, sauerbraten can also be made from venison (traditional), lamb, mutton, or pork; it was originally made with horse meat. After roasting it is covered with gravy and customarily served with blaukraut (red cabbage and apples), kartoffelkloesse (potato dumplings), spätzle (egg noodle), dampfkartoffeln (boiled/steamed potatoes), or latkas (potato pancakes).
Blaukraut is a stewed red cabbage, typically cooked with apples to counterbalance the sourness and served with various dishes. Red cabbage will normally turn blue while cooking (“Blau” is German for blue). To retain its red color add vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot.
Laugenbrezel is a bread pretzel popular in southern Germany made from wheat flour, water and yeast, glazed in lye and sometimes sprinkled with course salt. The crispier version of the pretzel originated in the United States by baking out excess moisture to increase its shelf life.
Kartofflesalat is a German potato salad, served warm, which is made in a variety of ways. German potato salad made in the United States is typically composed of red potatoes, a simple vinaigrette dressing (equal parts water, vinegar and sugar), bacon, and onions. Unlike most American potato salads, German potato salad is not made with mayonnaise and tends to be a bit healthier. To make Kartofflesalat even healthier, try substituting turkey bacon.
Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte is a layered chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherries. Black Forest Cake, anyone? Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte is literally translated Black Forest cherry torte.