Like any uptown girl I completely agree that a drive to Kenner often feels like a journey to the other side of the world, but sometimes it’s totally worth it. Kenner is host city to fascinating cultural institutions like the Dillard’s discount center, the annual Gun Show, and of course Oktoberfest. After several years of being dragged to Oktoberfest against my will and always, yet reluctantly, having a wunderbar time, I have decided to bypass the resistance and embrace my love of yet another reason to drink in the name of cultural preservation. Here is a list of my favorite ways to get the most mileage out of your lederhosen during the last weekend of Oktoberfest.
It has always been a goal of mine to learn how to toast in every language, and Oktoberfest has certainly let me hone in on my linguistic skills. My first stop through the gates is one of the blue and white checked multi-tapped bars. The selection of ales, lagers, and bocks is enough to wet your whistle and put a feather in your cap. I usually start on the light side with a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen and then work my way darker through the Spaten Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier, and end my night slowly sipping no more than half of a Dunkel or Kostritzer black beer during some after-dinner dancing. The selection is impressive, and feel free to ask your friendly German bartender for a sample or two. They won’t mind as long as you say “Danke Schoen!” If liquer is more up your autobahn then do try one (or more) of the various schnapps offerings. I’ve had a number of flavors and the most palatable seems to be honey which comes in a beehive shaped bottle, so I’d go for that if you’re just getting started. If you’re looking to get the authentic drinking experience you can pick up a glass stein in the gift shop or refill a souvenir boot mug for a discount.
Schnitzel and Other German Munchies
I was completely convinced that I didn’t like German food until I chowed down at Oktoberfest. This isn’t restaurant or pub food. This is real German grandmas making traditional comfort food from decades old recipes and methods. Eating at Oktoberfest is a rare chance to adopt a little German ancestry into your life, and with all of the amazing meats, potatoes, and fixings I guarantee you won’t miss your blood relatives so much.
My absolute favorite dish is the Beef Stuffed Cabbage, but this week’s Black Beer Glazed Smoked Pork Loin should be pretty tasty as well. My perfect plate is finished off with a veal and pork Weisswurst, warm German Potato Salad, and a generous mound of purple stewed cabbage that has the right amount of sweetness, tang, and spice. I get all of that for $14. It’s enough to feed me and a gruppe of friends, ja.
After you’ve enjoyed massive amounts of oma’s meat and potatoes give yourself a little time to digest by perusing the onsite gift store. One year I found a dog costume that was a chicken dressed in lederhosen. Fortunately for my Pongo-hund it was two sizes too small. If you’re not into dressing your dog you can also find small gifts, crafts, and commemorative merchandise. When you’ve finished feasting your eyes on “German” goods (read: made in China) stop by the pretzel hut for the most delicious nugget of knotted dough you will ever have. The fresh-baked pretzels are served warm and dipped in butter and coarse salt with a a little sweet mustard on the side. Mmmm Das ist gut!
OK, now that you’re sufficiently stuffed it’s time to bounce up and down across a parking lot! Put on your Polka shoes and stop trying to resist the not-so-subtle oompa beat of the live orchestra. The band will be churning out German favorites all night including slurred renditions of “She’s Too Fat for Me” and even a cameo by a studly chicken for his namesake dance. If you don’t know the words or the steps your gracious hosts from the Deutsches Haus are always willing to help. Throw on a flower crown and grab your new brother from a German mutter by the hand.