the tale of two käse

Last weekend I went to Oktoberfest at the Cannstatter Volksfest Verein in Northeast Philadelphia. This cultural organization celebrates the customs and traditions of the German heritage. My Oma met my Opa at the existing location, shortly after her journey to America in the 1940s, and it has since remained an important part of our family. The club provides a taste of the homeland for German immigrants and their ancestors.

It’s as if you’re transported to Germany after you enter the simply decorated, whole-heartedly German clubhouse. Beers are constantly flowing, people are chanting “prost” and many are singly proudly auf deutsch. My oldest brother is part of the GTV Almrausch dance group, and they performed traditional Bavarian dances throughout the night. Beautiful steins, lederhosen, and dirndls were auctioned off as oompahs and accordions pumped in the background. 

As a self-proclaimed foodie, my favorite part of any kind of festival is the grub. That evening, the Cannstatter sold a spread of German cuisine. Instead of choosing a safer option like wurst or schnitzel, I tried the leberkäse. I assumed that it was some kind of cheese dish, as käse means cheese in German, but ohhhhh was I wrong. After two unpleasant bites, I learned that the spongy pink mystery meat, that was disguised by brown gravy and mushrooms, was liver meatloaf. I typically do not discriminate against different types of meats, but it was the texture, along with the fact that I was expecting gooey cheese, that made me a leberkäse skeptic. 

My experience with leberkäse had me dreaming about another dish with käse, one that actually contained cheese... käsespätzle. I first had käsespätzle at Oktoberfest in Munich three years ago. It’s Germany’s version of mac and cheese and mmmm is it delicious. This style of the American comfort food contains dumpling-like noodles that are intertwined with stretchy emmental cheese. The mound of carb heaven is topped with frizzled onions and fresh green parsley. It’s just what you need after a few Maße. 

Though I did not have the most positive experience with my meal selection last Saturday, I am still a lover of the customary foods of the German culture. Next week, I will share my recommendations of the types of food that you should try when you are traveling in Germany, particularly if you are heading to Oktoberfest.