There is a popular phrase that goes as follows- “It’s five o’clock somewhere”. It was absolutely necessary for this to be our motto during the weekend of fruhlingsfest as we needed to arrive at the beer tents as early as possible in order to avoid ridiculous lines and guarantee a seat. Even though my friends and I arrived at the Augusteener tent at about one pm, we were still unable to get seats together until hours later, at which point we cheerily squeezed two people to a seat along the crowded benches.
Before heading into the tents, we had a little appetizer. I began with a fat and juicy bratwurst covered in onions and followed it with a little dessert due to my discovery of a stand that sold all varieties of fruit under the sun served on skewers and covered in chocolate. I opted for a selection of grapes, strawberries, bananas and pineapples covered in white chocolate.
Finally we made it into the tent. It was as if we stepped into something from Alice in Wonderland, the small tent entrance outside gave way to an enormous room with high ceilings, decorated with blue and white banners and Augusteener logos. The room was filled with rows of long tables with benches and every single one of them was packed with people. Between the aisles ran servers, all dressed in dirndls or lederhosen for their respective genders and each server carried at least three steins of beer in each hand; very impressive. There were two rules- number one, do not stand on the tables; however it is perfectly acceptable to stand on the benches. Number two, if you stand on the benches and attempt to chug your drink, you better be prepared to finish the entire thing, or else you will be boo-ed and “Germans don’t forget”. My friends were forced to split up but that was all right, one of the great aspects of Beerfest is the opportunity to get to know strangers from all over the world who all share a common interest- beer. That being said, this day was not merely about drinking for me. As usual, I had a mission. That is, me and my partner in crime, fellow foodie and culinary student, Ms. Rian from South Carolina. She is one after my own heart and together we endeavored to sample as many German dishes as possible in that day. We squeezed ourselves onto a table with a few very nice gentlemen who had just graduated from Harvard and had moved to Europe to play on an international sports league. Let the games begin. With each stein of beer, we ordered a meal to share. I was bent on ordering a plate of pork knuckle and with the help of some pantomiming to a German stranger, I was able to figure out which dish to order from the foreign menu. The meat came with a side of sauerkraut and a large polenta ball, similar to mashed potatoes in flavor but more gelatinous in texture. Next came the roast chicken. All around us, people swayed and sang arm in arm to the oohm-pa-pa music while Rian and I gorged ourselves on the crispy skinned chicken, ripping it apart with our fingers. Everyone seemed to be amazed at us, one of the boys turned to us and exclaimed in awe “Wow, you two eat chicken the way it looks like it is supposed to be eaten. And you like beer! And your pretty! You’re like….marriage material” Ha, yeah man. That’s right, take note ladies.
As the day wore on, the tent became more lively, quite obviously as a result of the drinking. Because of this, the room got louder, hotter, and much more jolly. The traditional German music was swapped out for 1980’s and 1990’s pop music, and people started busting out their dance moves. Eventually my friends and I decided to get some fresh air and go on some of the rides. My mood could only have been described as euphoric as I gleefully spun around on gigantic swing sets and barreled down the pinnacle of miniature roller coasters. I snacked on a delicious treat called a “currywurst”, which is essentially a sliced bratwurst covered in curry sauce. As the fair was shutting down I managed to grab one last thing in the form of a corn on the cob dipped in garlic butter. The fresh corn was delicious but my hands smelled strongly of pungent garlic for the entire night afterwards, a fact that nobody would let me forget. I can take solace in the fact that after describing my career goals and some of my culinary creations to a new male friend, he informed me that even if my hands smelled like garlic for the rest of my life he would still marry me.