Oktoberfest – the food
Published: 21 Sep 2012 14:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Sep 2012 14:59 GMT+02:00
- Oktoberfest – the beer (21 Sep 12)
The food at the Oktoberfest is a lot subtler than you think. Okay, maybe not in the big tents. The chefs’ guiding credo there usually amounts to wedging a stick through anything with four legs, fins or feathers and burning it. But then if you spend your whole Oktoberfest in the big tents you are obviously someone who enjoys life’s coarser pleasures.
That's fine for some, but there are other, more refined gourmands than you – people who come to the festival with a schedule of what rich, heavy, Bavarian delicacies they are going to shovel into themselves and when. True, these people often don't make it through the two weeks without a heart attack, but emergency services workers at the festival should earn their keep too, right?
The connoisseurs hunt their delicacies in the smaller tents – those with capacities measured in the hundreds rather than the thousands. Here are a few of the best.
Chicken and Duck
The chicken might well have been the first animal to be sacrificed at the altar of Oktoberfest. The original grilled chicken stall was set up in 1881. Now there are six medium-to-small tents dedicated to the fiery demise of poultry, each with their own specialities. Hendl- und Entenbraterei Heimer, for example, encrust their ducks with a blend of herbs and spices that is so legendary it might as well be a Bavarian state secret. It comes with a not quite so unique celery salad.
Only at Oktoberfest will you find a special tent for sausages. Though it's not so much a tent as a Disney-fied version of an old Bavarian townhouse. You get the idea – two storeys leaning all quaintly to the side. It is called Zur Bratwurst. This means “To The Grilled Sausage,” which is perhaps the simplest and best name for a restaurant ever. They do pork, veal, and ox-meat sausages, plus those traditional Bavarian tiddlers.
If this is your first Oktoberfest, and you have no qualms about devouring cute baby cows, then your lucky day has come. Able's Kalbs-Kuchl is a brand new tent, and it offers enough veal to make an animal rights activist give up on the intrinsic goodness of humanity. Of course, unless you've had a veal Wiener Schnitzel, you've not had a veal Wiener Schnitzel at all. It's veal-ly good. Oh, you know what we mean.
Desserts – Kaiserschmarrn or Dampfnudel
If you've ever had a barium meal, you'll have an idea of what a Dampfnudel feels like. If you haven't, Wikipedia “gastrointestinal series” when you get a chance, and in the meantime, be very cautious if anyone offers you a Dampfnudel. The “Nudel” part of the word is very misleading. It is not a noodle at all. It is, in fact, a giant lump of uncooked dough, thinly disguised with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. If you eat it, you will have to lie still and digest like an anaconda for a while. If you can't go without dessert, then head to Café Kaiserschmarrn. It's hard to miss. It has two oddly sized minaret-like towers on it, and they're calling you to pray to the god of cake. The place’s namesake Kaiserschmarrn is a delicious dessert akin to a shredded pancake covered in sugar and jam.
Ben Knight (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Munich's Oktoberfest runs from September 22 until October 7 this year.