munchin' my way through münchen

this weekend was the final weekend of the 200th oktoberfest in münchen and was to be my 1st oktoberfest. stijn and i dropped kenya off at jan and jesse's place in geneva and met up with luana to set off on our 7 hr drive through switzerland, austria, and germany. the three country tour had the sound of music fan inside me elated. the thought of crossing from switzerland into austria had "climb every mountain" on repeat in my head. a word on austria: bp (the gas station) had high top tables and bar stools inside with joyful austrians drinking beers with friends while their tanks were being filled. i digress...we arrived in munich tired and sober surrounded by drunk people in lederhosen wandering the streets looking for food, taxi's and more beer. we stopped for a small bite and to rescue some german friends who had been oktoberfestin' it up all day. enter my first encounter with german cuisine, currywurst and pommes schranke. currywurst is a pork sausage in a tomato, curry sauce and pommes schranke, referring to the colors on a railroad crossing barrier, are fries with mayonnaise and ketchup.

my first day of the oktoberfest began with brunch at a coffee shop where i enjoyed a very traditional breakfast of zwei weiβwürste, händlmaier senf, and brezel (sausages with sweet mustard and pretzel) washed down with a bathtub full of coffee.

fueled with enough sausage to feed a family and wearing my best modern interpretation of a dirndl including a newly "acquired" bavarian hat we set out to discover the wiesn. my plan of attack for making it through the day and the size of the beers was to just keep eating. so after my first german beer and the irresistible smell of smoked fish producing a pavlovian reaction we sat down in a biergarden and ordered mackerel.

this was not food for the faint of heart but as they say good things come to those who wait, or those willing to work for it. as i dissected my fish and pulled the tender flesh from bone it became clear to me that i have never had fish before. this was by far the best fish i had ever had the pleasure of eating.
the festival was packed, so packed in fact that all the tents were closed with packs of people noses pressed to door, waiting to be allowed entrance. it was looking grim until by good fortune alone we discovered someone selling wristbands. like fiends looking for their score in back alley deals we came to possess the contraband wristbands and walked right to the front of the line and into the sacred tent. here is where the real drinking began. the beer steins were now bigger (1 liter) and much heavier (8 lbs.).

within a few hours my hand was bruised from the glass resting on my knuckle. never mind the pain there was enough drinking, singing, and dancing atop benches to distract. "ein prosit, ein prosit..."
day 2 much was much like day 1 only this time i was wearing a legitimate dirndl and was slightly hungover. we spent most of the day in the biergarden until serendipitously we were able to waltz right into a closed tent and spent another evening drinking, singing, and dancing.
i come from cincinnati, a city rich in german history, we have an "octoberfest" and a hofbrauhaus. i have lived a good portion of my adult life in over the rhine, have a german last name and grew up eating braunschweiger at my nana's house. but this weekend i saw the real hofbrauhaus, sat in a real biergarden, and crossed the real rhein river. henceforth i shall sign my name megan straβer.

for more pics of the weekend's festivities visit flickr