A Primer on Bavarian Food

In preparation for Oktoberfest, here’s a look at the kind of fare you’ll be having at a proper beer garden.

by Philbert Dy

Oktoberfest is fast approaching. Most people associate the festival with the massive consumption of beer, and this is certainly correct. But the festival is also a greater celebration of Bavarian culture. Any Oktoberfest event worth its salt will certainly have some real Bavarian cuisine on offer. Here’s the kind of thing you should on the lookout for when you find yourself in a beer garden, looking for something to go with all your beer.



You already know what a pretzel is, but a real Bavarian pretzel tends to be much heartier than the typical version you’ll get from some place like Auntie Anne’s. The whole thing tends to be much thicker, and the skin is chewier, giving the pastry a more satisfying bite.



Soft cheese mixed with butter and spices, and often a little bit of beer. Spread liberally on pretzels or bread. Be careful, though: you can easily fill up on Obatzda. Save some room for the mains.



Leave it to the Germans to make a salad out of sausages. Sausage is sliced up, mixed with onions and a tart white vinegar dressing. Have it, and pretend that you’re eating healthy.



Slow braised red cabbage. It’s a sweet and tangy side that goes really well as a side to the heartier entrees on the typical Bavarian menu. The slight bit of acid helps cut through the richness of all the meat.



Cabbage fermented with lactic acid bacteria. It’s kind of like kimchi, minus all the Korean spice. Its sour flavor goes really well with sausages. Bonus: like kimchi, Sauerkraut is rife with probiotics, which means it’s good for your gut health. And when you’re binging on beer and sausages, you’re going to need all the gut health you can get.



Slow roasted pig trotter. It looks a lot like crispy pata, but the knuckle is roasted whole for hours in an oven instead of being boiled and friend. The result isn’t too far from our local version, but the meat is generally firmer and less greasy.



Schnitzel basically refers to any meat that’s been pounded flat, breaded and then fried. The dish actually originates from Austria, and the Wiener Schnitzel, which is the version that most of you have probably heard of, is made with veal. Pork is common, though, as is chicken at this point.




Wurst is sausage. You know what sausages are. Any good Oktoberfest feast will have a variety of sausages made from different kinds of meats. Bratwurst is typically made with chopped veal and pork. The specific Bavarian style of sausage is Weisswurst, also made with veal and pork, but with none of the preserving methods typically used in the making of sausage. It is heated in water, and served still floating in its cooking liquid. Enjoy with heaps of sauerkraut.




Strudel is actually Austrian, but it is probably the best known dessert of the region. Dough is stretched thin and rolled with some sort of sweet filling. The most common version is apfelstrudel, which features a sweet apple filling.


Bavarian Cream

Strictly speaking, Bavarian Cream isn’t Bavarian at all. It comes from France, and is a pastry cream that’s been thickened with gelatin. It is nothing at all like the filling of a Bavarian cream donut. It is a thick and heavy cream best balanced with some tart fruit.


The German Club of the Philippines will be holding its 79th Oktoberfest celebration at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on October 6 and 7. For tickets, email reservations@germanclub.ph, or call the German Club Manila at +632 8942899.