Meat and cheese at Viktualienmarkt
Bavarian Food Tasting Tour, part 2
I think where we left off was at the Augustiner Brewery. If you’re just joining, I’m taking you through the edible highlights of Munich, Germany during a short trip I took in the summer. Pretzel, beer, sausage–check, check, check. It’s painful to be a vegetarian in Munich, Killian the guide from Munich Walk’s Bavarian Food Tasting tour tells me with a smile. I can’t imagine pain to what degree when we make our next stop for meat and cheese at the bustling market Viktualienmarkt, otherwise known as the stomach of Munich.
Two things draw my attention immediately at the Viktualienmarkt: the maypole and the crowd. Traditionally, the maypole is where celebrations happen with dancing, music and lots of colour. It stands tall between two columns of vendors, and you almost miss it if you lay low amongst the seated crowd. Picture a food court. Now, take away the gaudy signs for hamburgers and pizza pies, the walls, the harsh lighting. There. See everyone? They’re eating and huddled closely together. Now one more thing: replace those uncomfortable swivel chairs with great, long picnic benches.
That’s better. Now you’re ready to eat. If you can find a seat.
Seriously, that’s what Viktualienmarkt looks like: a giant picnic and everyone is out here for lunch. Which surprises me, because it is 12:30pm on a Tuesday … isn’t everyone at work? Actually, Killian says, it isn’t just tourists who flock here, but locals come for lunches and groceries. Munich used to have one small market to feed the whole city, and when people realized their household appetites were bigger than what the market could supply, King Maximilian I marked out the property to be devoted for sales of cereals, fish, fruit, and all those great German butcheries.
Killian and I take our time sampling the meats he’s brought to the table, tearing off pieces and dabbing the slice stone bread into a soft cheese, made with three varieties. I am a fan of markets, so it’s easy to get pass time here. One thing for sure is that you’ll be sharing a table with others at the square, and looking around me I feel like I can see into the intestines of what Munich is eating: men are laughing over a plate of stringy sauerkraut and hefty brown link sausages cushioned by fluffy mashed potatoes; a girl is feeding pieces of her crusty loaf to her dog; women are chattering on a standing tabletop with shimmering half-filled glasses of wine; friends are walking past with full bags and carrot top sticking up.
When you’ve taken too much onto your plate than you can eat, they say your eye is eating more than your belly. But if you sit here for a while at Viktualienmarkt, your eye might just get a feast just as satisfying.