Let's Talk Food: Beer, society’s social lubricant, sloshes in celebration each fall

The biggest “beer bust” in the universe is almost over. Only four days remain before beer-sodden Germans gather up their steins and quietly go back to their normal lives. Oktoberfest, which began in Munich on Sept. 19, was as big and rowdy as ever. Thousands came from all over the world to lift their tankards in salute to the world’s oldest and most popular brew.

Beer enthusiasts need not despair. Throughout October there are plenty of celebrations, although none can complete with the gigantic beer halls in Munich and throughout Germany. It can come as no surprise that there is a Bavarian Oktoberfest in Milwaukee. The United German Societies of Milwaukee claim their celebration is the oldest and most authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest outside of Munich. More than 20,000 beer guzzlers gather for a celebration of Germanic traditional music and food.

I’d go just for the food; piglet roasted over an open pit; bratwurst; char-broiled chicken; rollbraten, a rolled roast stuffed with an onion mixture; loads of sauerkraut; pretzels, strudel; and a plenitude of beer and wine.

There is plenty of authentic music and dancing, the Schuhplattler in which men clap their shoes together, slap the backs of their heel, slap their lederhosen and slap the ground. As for the women, they simply whirl to the music.

Almost every community with a large German-American population celebrates with Oktoberfest. There are celebrations in Cullman, Ala.; Hays, Kan.; Tulsa, Okla.; Cincinnati and numerous others.

There are references to beer that go back to early Neolithic times (9000 BC) with early Sumerian writings that refer to a type of beer. Egyptian and Mesopotamian documents indicate that the first traces of “liquid bread” based on fermented grains originated in Mesopotamia. The Egyptians and Mesopotamians were the greatest beer drinkers of ancient times. They drank their beer warm. It was made from barley bread crumbled in water and fermented in date juice flavored with cumin, myrtle, ginger and honey.

Each beer from each region has its own unique flavor and taste, due to the water used in its preparation. The softer and purer the water, the better the beer. If hard water is used, the drinker is apt to suffer from headaches and severe hangovers.

. Beer adds a totally different flavor to foods. It is ideal for marinades. Basting with a glazing sauce or substituting beef for other liquids in some recipes will enhance the dish with an extra fruity, nutty, sweet or tangy taste.

Lobster in beer sauce

If shrimp steamed in beer is special; why not lobster?

Ingredients

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups light beer

½ cup chopped onions

1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds

¼ teaspoon white pepper

3 cups cooked, diced lobster meat

Preparation

* Mix the flour with a little beer until smooth, then combine in a saucepan with all the beer, the onions, caraway seeds and pepper.

* Cook over low heat, stirring steadily, to the boiling point, then cook for 5 minutes longer.

* Arrange the lobster meat on a serving dish and strain the sauce over it. Serves 4-6.

Beer bread

This bread is a genuine surprise since it is so simple and so good with little effort.

Ingredients

4 cups enriched self-rising flour

¼ cup sugar

1 can or bottle of beer

1 egg, slightly beaten

Preparation

* Combine the self-rising flour and sugar. Add beer and eggs all at once and stir by hand. Using a mixer overbeats the mixture.

* Place in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for an hour and 10 minutes.

* Remove from pan immediately and cool on a rack. Makes 1 loaf. Delicious when toasted.

ASK DORIS

Question: We just returned from visiting relatives in Ireland. One of the treats served with tea was called cheesecake muffins. They were wonderful and when I asked my aunt for a recipe, she tried to tell me how to make them. I really want a written recipe and hope you can find one for me. -- Louise Sargant / Bonita Springs

Answer: This recipe calls for raspberry or strawberry jam but I’m sure any fruit jams or jellies will do, including orange marmalade for a real Florida treat.

Irish cheescake muffins

Ingredients

— crust:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups shortening

¼ cup cold water

— filling

¾ cup raspberry or strawberry jam

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 eggs

Preparation

* Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

* Place flour in a large mixing bowl and cut in the shortening and add enough water to make a crust that is not sticky.

* Divide dough into 24 balls. On a floured board, roll crust balls into 3 or 4 inch rounds and line them into greased muffin tins.

* Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of jam into each muffin crust. Set aside.

* In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.

* Alternating, add 1 cup flour and 2 eggs to creamed sugar until all flour and eggs have been added.

* Spoon batter over jam in tins.

* Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm or when cool, store in a tightly closed tin. These muffins keep well. Makes 24 muffins.

For comments and questions regarding today’s column, contact Doris Reynolds at foodlvr25@aol.com

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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