18 September, 2011

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati 2011

Video courtesy of oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.

This weekend is the annual Oktoberfest Zinzinnati celebration in Cincinnati, Ohio, my hometown. In all honesty though, I hardly ever went to this festival when I still lived there because it was usually infested with weekend-warrior businessmen whose highlight of the year was to pour gallons of German beer down their throats and do the giant chicken dance on Fountain Square (oh how the city's founders would be gagging and crying if they saw how their beloved, historic city centre was being defiled by such an event), or with frat boys who were accustomed to being drunk in the middle of the day but needed some new excuse to pee in public, wear ridiculous chicken hats, and have a legitimate reason (outside of Greek Week) to sport lederhosen. I still think that such an enormous gathering - it is the second largest Octoberfest in the world behind only Munich, Germany - is an important cultural gathering for Germans living in the US, who apparently travel from all over the country to get to this festival, or German-Americans. Since I grew up in this kind of food culture, it is also why I am sad that out here on the West Coast I have to search out the fabulous sausages called "mets" or mettwursts to put on the grill. People just have never heard of them in this part of the world. 

Mettwurst = metts   Pronunciation:  MET-wurst OR MET-vursht  Notes:   At least two kinds of sausages answer to the name mettwurst.  People in Cincinnati use the name to describe a kielbasa-like sausage that's made with beef and pork, seasoned with pepper and coriander, and smoked.  They like to grill it and serve it on a bun.  Elsewhere, mettwurst is soft like liverwurst and ready to eat.  It's usually spread on crackers and bread.  Substitutes:  kielbasa (for Cincinnati's mettwurst) OR bratwurst (for Cincinnati's mettwurst) OR teewurst (for spreadable mettwurst). Definition and image above courtesy of foodsubs.com.

Image courtesy of rivertownbrewingcompany.com.
It's true that us Cincinnatians like our sausages, especially on buns with mustard and sauerkraut, and I particularly like the kielbasa (with sauerkraut and potatoes) that my Slovakian grandmother and Hungarian grandfather raised us on, being from countries that neighbor Germany. We also like our beer in the Queen City! Although Midwesterners like their generic Budweiser and Miller in unspeakable quantities, Cincinnati's German background insists that respect be given to higher-quality artisanal brewers too. Larger (reputable) ones like Becks, Hoegaarden, and Christian Moerlein will be present as well as some of my German faves Spaten and Warsteiner, and smaller-batch Cincy locals Rivertown Brewery and Great Lakes Brewing out of Cleveland, Ohio.

A cool way of seeing the Oktoberfest is through a fantastic new photographic, interactive panorama technology named "gigapixel" that I have been lucky enough to work with in some of my school projects. Thanks to a company called GigaPan that utilizes this new way of seeing the world up close, though the photos are shot from far away, we can all see an different kind of perspective of this year's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati celebration. You cannot actually see the festival itself because the skyscrapers are in the way, but the view gives you an idea of the surroundings. Just follow this link and tap on the screen to zoom in/out and drag to the left/right.


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