I’m about to admit some cultural ignorance. It wasn’t until more recent times that I discovered that the German festival Oktoberfest is not strictly an October thing. But it’s easy to make the mistake since October in German is…Oktober. But this year’s Oktoberfest in Germany began on Saturday, September 21 and ends on Sunday, October 6.
The festival is held annually in Munich, Germany (it’s very much a Bavarian thing) and is one of the world’s largest fairs with more than six million people attending the event each year. And with a lot of things in life, the locals in Munich don’t even call it Oktoberfest, rather they refer to it as “die Wiesn” after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds themselves.
And while the festival is host to a myriad of food and entertainment options, people come for the beer. It’s estimated that almost seven million liters of beer were served during the 16 day festival in 2007. But not just any beer can be served at Oktoberfest; there are strict requirements which are as follows. Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot, at a minimum of 13.5% Stammwurze (approximately 6% alcohol by volume) may be served at Oktoberfest. The beer must also be brewed within the city limits of Munich. If beer meets these criteria, they can be designated “Oktoberfest Beer.”
But food is still a big deal too at Oktoberfest. Traditional foods such as Schweinebraten (roast pork), Wurstl (sausages), Brezeln (pretzel), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), and Obatzda (a Bavarian spiced cheese-butter spread) are featured. Although I don’t think I would ever have interest in going to Oktoberfest for no other reason that six million people drinking beer round the clock seems a bit “intense” for me, I’m sure the food would be spectacular though.
And in honor of the start of Oktoberfest, I made a popular German dish for dinner-Jager Schnitzel which is schnitzel topped with a bacon mushroom gravy. (In case you’re not familiar with schnitzel it’s a boneless meat, thinned with a hammer, coated with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs and then fried. There are many variations of schnitzel, jager schnitzel is just one of them.)