Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Celebrate Your Own Oktoberfest With Traditional Foods

October. What a wonderful time of the year! Fall celebrations abound. Fall fairs and harvest festivals are such wonderful family outings. However, one of the most famous, world-known events that occurs at this time of the year is Oktoberfest. Known for its beer tents, delicious foods, and the "om-pa-pa" bands, it is a celebration that occurs not only in Munich, Germany, but around the world as well.

What started as a marriage celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 18, 1810 in Munich, Germany, is still celebrated almost 200 years later and is known as Oktoberfest. In 1810, a huge horse race was the central attraction. Years later, it became a carnival. Now, it is a rocking, music-filled, "food and drink" fest that celebrates the Bavarian culture. Similar Oktoberfest activities are held world-wide with Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario's version well-known as well.

Oktoberfest has been held almost every year since 1810. It has only been canceled 24 times due to disease (plagues) or war. The nicer weather in September has brought changes to the dates, so that the celebration starts 17 days before the first Sunday in October when the party ends.

Ask almost anyone what Oktoberfest is about and they will tell you: beer and food. But, there is more than that. In 1835, a parade became part of the regular festivities. Now, approximately 8,000 people in traditional Bavarian costumes walk through the center of Munich to the Oktoberfest site. From 1950 onwards, a 12-gun salute and the tapping of the first beer keg by the Mayor of Munich signals the opening of Oktoberfest.

And yes, beer and food is the main part. Over 6 million visitors (2007 stats) to Munich's Oktoberfest feast on traditional Bavarian foods. There are many tents set up (the largest, Hofbrau-Festhalle, holds 10,000 people!) for eating and drinking. To keep these beer tents and the overall Oktoberfest "family friendly", only traditional music is played until 6 pm. After that, the louder pop music is heard.

Even if you can't go to Munich, or one of the other Oktoberfest sites, you can still enjoy the traditional Oktoberfest celebration. Start with traditional Bavarian foods. These include chicken, roast pork, grilled fish, many types of sausage including Weisswurst, pretzels, bread or potato dumplings, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, and red cabbage. One favorite is haxn or pork hocks. Many of these German recipes are hearty and easy to make at home. Then serve them up with German music in the background, decorate your table in the traditional German colors of black, red, and yellow, and celebrate your very own Oktoberfest.

Gerhild Fulson

Looking for German recipes like Mom used to make? Only quick and easy? Traditional German food that's delicious and healthy? Check out the above site to find the recipes to all your favorites.

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1 comment:

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