When I think of Oktoberfest, what comes to mind are big tents, picnic tables, oompa bands, German beer, and traditional German food. Oh wait, one more thing: traditional German clothing. Women dressed in dirndls (pronounced “dendel”) and men dressed in lederhosen. What could be more fun?
These are the most popular foods served at Oktoberfest:
Sauerbraten (pronounced “sour bratten”) is a savory sliced meat dish that takes three days to make. Venison sauerbraten is very traditional, but beef sauerbraten works just as well for those who do not have the taste for venison or simply cannot get it. The meat is marinated for three days in a brine of vinegar, water, onion, and spices, then boiled like a pot roast and sliced. Then, a delicious gravy is made with the marinade that takes a few hours to complete. The sliced meat is then added to the gravy and served hot.
Blaukraut is stewed red cabbage and it’s a little sweet and a little sour. Blaukraut means blue cabbage — although it’s really purple in color, nobody calls it purple. It’s the perfect side dish for sauerbraten, and it is served hot. It’s very basic, but I wouldn’t dream of eating sauerbraten without it. If you are allergic to apples, you shouldn’t eat this at any festival. Traditionally, apples or apple juice are used to make this dish.
Bratwurst, the German sausage. A bratwurst is a thick sausage about 6 inches long and beige in color, not pink like a hot dog or krainerwurst. Get this fresh at the German butcher. You’ll find no nitrates in these, which makes them the much-healthier alternative to a hot dog. These should be boiled before grilling to be sure they are thoroughly cooked.
Krainerwurst is sometimes called a smoked bratwurst. It’s the same size as a bratwurst, but it is pink because it’s smoked, and, of course, that means they contain nitrates, which are not good for you.
Brezel is a warm soft pretzel. Everyone loves these twisted breads. I like them with mustard — some do, some don’t.
Kartoffle salat is the German version of potato salad. In Germany, they make it a few different ways, so you may be surprised at what you get if you ask for this at an Oktoberfest festival. I’ve actually had this in Germany with pickles and brine. Sounds crazy, but it was the best potato salad I’ve ever had. Typical German potato salad in the United States is made with potatoes, vinegar, oil, with or without bacon, onions, salt, and pepper. I have never seen German potato salad with mayonnaise anywhere.
There are lots more traditional German foods, but these are the ones you’ll most likely find at an Oktoberfest festival.