Food. It’s a huge part of a country’s culture and also one of my favorite things about traveling. Or life in general, if I’m being perfectly honest. So, that said, Munich has had some of the best food I’ve had on my journey thus far. Of course, everything is deep fried, accompanied by potatoes, or surrounded by a massive carbohydrate casing; but that’s what makes it amazing! And that is also why I’m glad I was only in Munich for a short time. Though soon was not soon enough, according to my waistline. The extra pound or two hanging from my now “love handles” can attest to that.
But every bite was worth is because it was so freaking good! Bavarian is the food of my people and I hope to show you why.
The first day, after my walking tour, Heather recommended a place near Marienplatz called Tegernesser Tal. She claimed they had the best beer in Munich. I was sold. If you have been following my blog, you already know how amazing I found this place. But just because I like a good ol’ foodie pic, I’ll throw this one back in just for the halibut (bad food pun, sorry had to do it).
As the first real meal I had in Munich, this place set some high expectations! But it really only did get better.
From what I had been told about the food in Germany by my German friends, I knew I had to try two things: currywurst (which I had in Berlin) and weisswurst, which is apparently best had in Munich. What I had been told about weisswurst, and this is not a joke at all, was that the way you eat it traditionally is to “suck” the sausage out of its casing. Again, not even joking. So, while we’re on the walking tour, I’m telling this to my four new friends (the Irish and Hamish) and they all think I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes. To be honest, for a bit I thought I had too.
But in the end I was right! Not only was this confirmed by Wikipedia, but two rather large and very obviously German folks sitting next to me at the Weisses Braühaus when I finally found my weisswurst.
Not wanting to partake in this rather messy endeavor alone, I enticed my roommate Otto from Georgia (country not state) to join me for a morning weisswurst, complete with a weissbeer of course! Mind you, it was 10 am but in Munich you aren’t anyone if you aren’t drinking first thing in the morning. It’s an interesting place.
However, upon arrival of our sausage breakfast, I was further informed by our German neighbors that while the traditional method to eat weisswurst may be “zuzeln” (Bavarian word for sucking), nowadays things have changed. They adapted manners. Today, you will find your sausage-loving Bavarians with knife and fork in hand, gingerly peeling the sausage from its casing and eating it like so. I, of course struggled with this procedure, as I am left-handed and my mom blames all my inability to use utensils on this fact. I was such a mess in fact, that our table mate asked me what I was doing to my (and I quote) “beautiful sausage”. Clearly I have much to learn.
To walk off my delicious, yet obscenely filling breakfast, I took another short city walk with my favorite guide, Rick Steves. And while there were a few repeats (Munich is only so big), I saw quite a few things I had never even heard of before coming to the land of lederhosen. Namely, Asam’s Church.
This was never mentioned anywhere to me and I still can’t quite figure out why. This shimmering façade of gold and ornate marble molding is perhaps the most ostentatious church I have ever seen (and at this point, I have seen a lot of churches).
One of the best things about this church, I’m my opinion, is the complete contrast from the outside to the inside. Yes, the outside is beautiful and obviously very well done. But, compared to all that is going on past this marble threshold, it pales in comparison. Just as you should not judge a book by its cover, I suppose also you should not judge a church by its steeple (or lack there of in this case, but you get the point).
I told you one of the best things, so now I want to tell you the best thing. Or show you, more like. This ceiling appears to be domed, but in fact it is actually flat! Completely blew my mind! I started at this ceiling for so long that my neck actually started to cramp up. I was determined to find the corners, but alas, I could not. Kudos yet again to my main man Rick and his audio app because inside, you won’t find a single signboard telling you the history of the church (like how it was made, who did what, how much it cost); but Rick, Rick will tell you. And you would be surprised to know that Asam’s Church was actually constructed on a very tight budget. The flat ceiling isn’t the only corner that they cut. The pillars that appear to be marble are in fact wood. Amazing!
From here, it was many more churches and interesting factoids that would consume many hours of your time and mine. So, long story short, take the Munich city walk and learn all about the things that Heather won’t tell you because it’s worth it!
Eventually all this walking made me a little thirsty so I figured it was high time to partake in the ol’ Munich tradition of Hofbraühaus. And just in time to try their Oktoberfest brew! Tasty stuff, but not as good as the local beer in Bellingham. Europe just can’t hang with the Ham when it comes to craft beer, according to what I’ve seen anyways.
And you can’t have a liter of beer without sausages so I strapped on the feed bag and went to town on some tasty white sausages and homemade potato salad.
Now, in his audio tour, Rick Steves describes this place as being “grotesquely touristy”; unsurprisingly, I agree with him. It’s not the best food you will ever have in Munich. My meal at Tegernesser Tal was not only cheaper, but better too. However, that said, this place is an institution to the city of Munich. It has been around forever! In my opinion, even though it’s touristy it’s worth one beer, at least.
While the sausages in Munich are divine, I feel that I have been misleading you to believe that’s all there is. That would most certainly be a travesty because the depth in which Munich dives into pork products doesn’t stop with ground meat, oh no. It continues! My personal favorite: crackling pork knuckle. So. Good.
Now, what you see before you is a massive amount of food. Not all of it is mine, but half of it is and that’s still some serious carnage. The other half belonged to my roommate and new favorite dining partner, Otto. On the map we were given at the hostel, this Biergarten in Bavaria Park was advertised as having traditional food at affordable prices. So I was sold. No matter the distance, I was going to eat there come hell or high water. And we did.
Walking in, this place was very similar to all the other beer halls you find scattered about München town, but the quality of food was much higher and the service was even better! Although the owner admitted his restaurant was not as old as the likes of the Augustiner braühaus you find across town, it was modeled in the same style. Apparently consistency is very important in the German beer tradition.
Speaking of which, there are 6 main breweries in Munich. These master brewers are almost as old as the city itself and have been making beer the same way since the 15th century or so. Of these six, Augustiner is the oldest and was originally brewed by the monks of Munich and used as a bartering tool for the monastery. This was the choice beer of the Wirtshaus am Bavariapark. Unlike the beer situation in the states, in Munich it’s slim pickin’s. Generally there’s a Weiss (light), a dunkel (dark), and a radler or something similar (beer and lemon soda). It’s quality of course, but once you’ve had enough of one type, your options are limited for the next round. At any rate, I much preferred the dunkel to the Weiss. The Irish guys back at the hostel, on the other hand, couldn’t shut up about the Weiss. It’s all subjective really. And that’s beer in Munich.
Back to food. When I came time to order dinner, the owner came around to our table and explained everything on the menu to us, which I found very thoughtful. He went into detail about each dish and its accompaniments so we would know exactly what we were ordering and how much time went into its preparation. Needless to say by the end of the spiel, I was foaming at the mouth. So we ordered the biggest thing on the menu of course. But we split it, and somehow that makes me feel less like a fatty.
Again, I could spend hours relaying this meal to you, but you would get bored and I would repeat the foaming at the mouth bit; so to save us both, I will just say that if ever you are in Munich and you see crackling pork knuckle on the menu, order it for the love of God! You will not be disappointed. It’s everything you have ever wanted from a large hunk of meat and more.
And that’s food in Munich. It’s amazing, but if I was there one more day I might have had to buy a couple new pairs of pants. Lord knows what would happen if I lived there. There isn’t a vegetable to be found, unless it’s potatoes; then you can’t get enough of ’em!
From the beer to the sausage, Neuschwanstein to Dachau, the Irish to the New Zealander, Munich was a blast and a half, but it was time for a new adventure. In Salzburg. See ya there!