Let's Talk Food: Toast beer bread for Oktoberfest

Today marks the end of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Hundreds of thousands of Munich residents are heaving a collective sigh of relief that the world's largest and longest fair has come to an end.

More than 6 million people come from around the world to attend an extravaganza that many other cities have attempted and failed to duplicate.

The festival began on Oct. 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig, who was destined to become King Ludwig, married Princess Therese of Hildburghausen. The generous newlyweds invited the citizens of Munich to attend the festivities that were held on the meadow in front of the city gates. The fields were name Theresienwiese (Therese's meadow) which remains the site of the city's most important celebration.

Huge quantities of Oktoberfest beer are consumed with almost 7 million liters served during the 16-day festival. Though beer is the main feature of the bacchanal, the Oktoberfest offers a great opportunity to experience tastings of the best of typical traditional German foods.

I love German food, although the Food Patrol is off-limits at the world's largest beer bust. Such mouth-watering dishes as Hendl (chicken), Schweinbrater (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Wusurstl (sausages), Knodel (potato of bread dumplings), Kasepatzl (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), and of course, plenty of sauerkraut and tons of tasty pretzels.

The Germans do wonderful things with pretzels and offer them in a variety of sizes, flavors and shapes. And it was the Pennsylvania Dutch (actually German immigrants) who brought pretzels to the American consumers. The Pennsylvania Dutch are actually Palatine Germans who settled in the town of Litiz, located outside of Lancaster. William Sturgis is credited with baking the first state-side pretzel in 1861 and they rapidly became an ideal accompaniment to bee

It's no surprise that there is lots of frolicking and rollicking with beer as the harvest season progresses. Beer is the world's oldest and most widely consumed beverage containing alcohol. Only water and tea are more popular.

There are references to beer that go back to early Neolithic times (9000 B.C.) 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 war, which was made from barley bread crumbled in water and fermented in date juice flavored with cumin, myrtle, ginger and honey.

Bread and beer are very close cousins. The word "beer" comes from the German word "brod," bread. In Babylonia, the brew was used in sacrificial ceremonies and I'm sure you'll be relieved to know that Noah was careful to include a plentiful supply of beer before launching the ark.

Serious beer drinkers make up a special part of society. They are more gregarious and raucous. Beer drinkers are the loud, enthusiastic guys and dolls cheering with zest and enthusiasm at almost any occasions. Their wine drinking buddies are much more reserved and proper.

Beer is great in cooking, especially hearty dishes such as beef stews, pork loins, incorporated into barbecue sauces and some soups. Here is a simple and tasty recipe that even the youngsters in your family can easily prepare:

BEER BREAD

Ingredients

4 cups enriched self-rising flour

½ cup sugar

1 can or bottle of beer

1 egg, slightly beaten

Directions

1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2 Combine the flour and sugar and add beer and eggs all at once and stir until combined by stirring by hand, since using a mixer overbeats this mixture.

3 Place in a greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for an hour and 10 minutes.

4 Remove from pan immediately and cool on a rack.

Makes 1 loaf. Delicious when toasted.

Doris Reynolds is the author of "When Peacocks Were Roasted and Mullet was Fried and "Let's Talk Food." They are available for sale in the lobby of the Naples Daily News. Also available is a four-part DVD, "A Walk Down Memory Lane with Doris Reynolds." Contact Doris Reynolds at foodlvr25@aol.com.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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