Germany - Bad Durkheim

by Kimp 20. November 2016 01:57

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Bad Durkheim Germany

The Durkheimer Wurstmarkt (Sausage Market) is Europe’s largest wine festival, accommodating about about 600,000 people each year.

This is where wine meets relaxation and great times. The standard size glass at most wine festivals is 250 ml (1/3 of a bottle), here it is 500 ml (2/3 of a bottle). This isn’t cheap low grade box wine, it is of the highest quality, and is poured straight from the bottle that was vinted in.

It is held in the spa town of Bad Durkheim, which is in the Rhineland-Palatinate region in Western Germany, near the Rhine River which is known for producing some of the world’s greatest wines. All of the area around the town, is vineyard. It looks like a town sprouted in the middle of a massive vineyard.     

The first one was held in 1417, and it has continued every year since, this being the 600th festival. I think the reason, is that there this is a very popular spa which has a very large paved parking lot.  A perfect place that can accommodate lots of rides and booths.  Not to mention the park like atmosphere in all areas near the spa, and the quaint town that it spills into. The festival booths continue to spill into several of the town’s streets, making it seem very comfy. Topping all of that off, with many great local restaurant’s, in support of the year around spa atmosphere.

The German health care system has identified a human syndrome that they call, “Burn out Syndrome”. It is recognized as by their health care professionals, and a person exhibiting its symptoms, is given a doctor’s prescription, to live at a spa until it has been treated. The normal amount of recovery time is a few months, but I have heard of people who have taken two years to recover from “Burn out Syndrome”.

The Roman’s may have invented spa’s, but the Germans have perfected them. They can be found all over Germany, some being the main feature of a town and some blending in with a larger city.

Vintner’s villa

I stayed at vintners villa about 2 miles across the vineyard’s from the festival. It was a long, but beautiful walk through the vineyards, and well worth the effort. Beautiful and peaceful. Like going back to a time before automobiles and heavy machinery. They gave me a cold-cut meat, cheese, and fresh bread platter, that perfectly complimented their wine. I felt at home with a large family there, just hanging out and lounging, most of the time.

All of Germany has an open land culture. So long as a person respect the owner’s property that they are on, nobody cares that we are on it, nor what you are doing on it.  I have never seen a “no trespassing” sign’s nor a locked fence around any property in Germany. Several people bring their small trailers and mobile homes, and park them overnight for free, on the small roads that are in the vineyards. Same with automobiles.

Broomstick Restaurants

Besenwirtschaft  (Broom pub) is the German Name for one of the finest traditional German experiences, that I have taken part in. They can only be found in the wine growing region of Germany.

 Around 1400, German laws allowed winemaker’s to sell their own wine, tax free, during early Spring and Harvest, for only a short period of time, in limited quantities, to individuals. Like two weeks, twice a year. This was to allow the small winemakers a chance to earn a meager living and stay in business. That tradition is still alive today.

They are usually only open for a few weeks out of the year, but some are open for a bit longer, usually at the very beginning and very end of wine season. You know you are at a Besenwirtschaft, when you see an old witches broom hung above the sign or next to the front door. Often times, it is in the proprietors own house. But could also be an event room on a farm or even a small restaurant.

They remove the furniture from their living room and put up makeshift tables, to accommodate as many people as they can. They serve homemade food that that goes great with wine, and their finest wine vinted the year before (It takes an entire year to make wine, starting with the picking of the grapes).

Usually the food options are minimal, but I can assure you, that if you like homemade sausage, cheese, homemade noodles, and fresh German salad, that is probably one of the standard options. Whatever is on the menu, will taste great with their wine. These are very proud small winemakers, carrying on their family business.

For me, I have to make sure I’m not going to spill any wine, and ask them to kindly move any family heirloom items away from my general area, cause my body is big and is not always fully under my control. 

It is very easy to order the wine. Just ask for either red, rose, or white. They are only likely to have one or maybe two varieties of each of those types. It will come is a viertele , which is a 250 ml (1/3 bottle) clear glass cup, with a green handle. Usually with some type of grape decoration on it. Not sure, but maybe that is to disguise it, like during the prohibition. It is probably, cause it is harder to spill in that type of glass.

They don’t advertise much, because they don’t need too, but there are many, many Besenwirtshaft’s in the wine regions of Germany. You just need to train your eye to look for the broomsticks. That is one fine piece of German Culture,  that can only be found in Germany.

My History

I grew up near the wine making region of Ohio. There are some great Ohio wines vented near Lake Erie. I owned a home two miles from Lake Erie for several years, and my grandfather used to visit me every year at grape picking time.

A women who owned a vineyard a few miles from my house would call me when it was the perfect time to pick the grapes. She sold all of her product to a large company, so she did not make any wine herself. The company would send a person to the vineyard to test the sugar content in her grapes, then schedule the picking time around their test results and their knowledge, showed that their sugar content was at a peak. She would call me, and my grandfather and I would get there a few days ahead of them, to pick enough to make about 10 gallons of wine (5 gallons each).

The process is very simple and inexpensive, but a bit time consuming and takes a lot of attention to detail. Basically, the only difference between Red, Rose, and White is the type of grape. Red wine has an initial two week fermentation with the skins, Rose is red but fermented without the skins, and white is always fermented without the skins.

The chemical process is all natural. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as a by-product. When a wine is very dry (no sugar taste), it started with about 25% sugar or less. 25% sugar produces 12.5% alcohol (which would be 25 proof. Proof is the starting sugar content). It is difficult to get wine with an alcohol content higher than that, because the alcohol eventually kills the yeast that is making it. It takes a special kind of yeast to get a higher alcohol content. Less sugar, means less alcohol, but will also be dry. More sugar, makes a sweet wine, or sometimes another fruit juice is added that has higher sugar in it.

Grapes have yeast on the outside of the skins naturally, but to ensure a good product, start with the best wine yeast.

The grapes are crushed and the seeds are always removed before fermentation. Deseeding the grapes is the most manual, boring, and time consuming process. A single seed will ruin the wine.

Not all grapes, make good wine. Another chemical that is natural in grapes is called tannin. Too much tannin, gives the wine a bitter and acidy taste. Some tannin is good, but not too much. There is a chemistry method to test tannin content, and it can be adjusted slightly if needed, but the best wine starts from the perfect grape. Concord grapes make the best table grapes, but the worst wine. Start with a good wine grape.

The only other piece of knowledge needed it the exact sugar content. That can easily be measure with a specific gravity meter. The more sugar in the juice the higher the bobber will rise in the glass, because the sugar increases buoyancy. That is just need to determine how dry the wine is going to be, and it’s final alcohol percentage.

The making is easy after the prep. The initial fermentation is in open air, and lasts about three to five days.  After that, the skins (if the skins were left in) will have floated to the top. The wine is siphoned from the open container, into a large container (I use glass, but wine producers probably use barrels). The juice must fill the container to the top, because after this, air spoils wine and turns it into vinegar. Air contains living micro-organisms that will spoil the wine (before this, there is enough carbon dioxide exiting to keep air from entering). A simple device called a bubbler is used to stop the top of the container. It allows the carbon dioxide to escape without letting any air inside. A few weeks to a month later (when the bubbling is nearly gone in the bubbler), it is bottled (sooner if a sparkling wine is desired), corked, and stored for the remainder of a year. This is also done via siphon, since the yeast will be at the bottom of the container. Sulfites are always added as a preservative for long periods of storage.

The ideal conditions for wine making and storage is about 55 F and slightly moist. That keeps bad aromas and flavors from effecting the wine. The moister, is so the cork does not dry out. Wine is usually also stored on a rack, at a position that keeps the cork moist with wine as a precautionary measure, but that is not really a requirement. The requirement is that the cork not be allowed to dry out, allowing air to enter it.  

Learning German

I have been slowly learning Deutsch (German). Many of the words are derived from English and are similar, but there are a several unique words as well.

The most difficult is that the article “The” has three different conjugations. There is a masculine version, a feminine version and a neutral version. What confuses most people is that they tend to think that masculine or feminine has to do with the word that it accompanies. Like, one would think that a Bikini is feminine, and not masculine at all. It is because the word Bikini has a very masculine sound to it, so the “the” that goes with “the Bikini”, is the masculine sounding,  “Der Bikini”, instead of the feminine sounding “Die Bikini”. If the word Bikini had a soft sound to it, then it would use the feminine “the”. Once I figured that out, it all started to make sense.

Their use of plurals is more difficult in my opinion, but that starts to make sense after a while, as well. It is the ending of the word that gives it a masculine or feminine sound, and often times the plural ending changes it from a masculine to feminine sound, so the article changes as well. Plurals almost always sound feminine. Like Der Student (very masculine sound), becomes Die Studenten (a much softer feminine sound). The plurals have one of the following endings e, en, n, er, r, s or the exact same word, but with the article changed to feminine (just to follow the pattern, I am sure).

Also, most people pronounce German in very staccato manner, but there are parts of Germany, where a more legato and softer approach is used. There are people who speak it in a very soft sensual manner, and make it sound beautiful. In fact there is one women who speaks it soft enough to make my heart go pitter patter even when I don't understand what she is saying, and I call her buttercup. Well, maybe that isn’t completely due to the language.  

In any event, I have a long way to go, but am feeling more comfortable every day. I know if I learn it too good, that will be the last day I spend in Germany, so I’m not working that hard at it. It might have something to do with the eye contact.

German language also has a formal version and an informal version. The formal is what is taught and the informal is what is usually spoken among friends.

German culture never small talks. They just speak frankly. Like, they would never talk about nothing for several minutes just to butter someone up and then ask to borrow their truck for a move next weekend. They would just ask to borrow the truck, right up front. In American culture, if you don’t small talk up front, you are perceived as insensitive. So that is a shift as well.

Cake and Coffee German Tradition

All German’s traditionally have cake and coffee at 1500 (3:00 P.M.). Not 5 minutes till 3, nor 5 minutes after 3, but at 3 exactly. That’s one break that is a constant throughout Germany. Everyone takes the same break and the Café’s fill up. Most German cakes are a little dry, not very sweet, and are meant to be consumed with coffee. I happen to like that, but some people don’t. Like any food product, a person has to know what it goes best with, to get the most out of it.

Fest

This wine fest has all of the tell tale sign’s of German Ocktober Fest. Tents and all, except the beer has been exchanged for wine. It has great time written all over it.

Some of the tables are probably reserved at night time, but it is mostly wide open during the day, so I stopped in the largest tent to sip on a 500 ml glass of white wine and take in the festivities. The day time has many of the same activities as night, except it is light out and the crowd is sparse.  However, the die-hards, come early, in order to stake out a great table, for the whole day, including the night.

I was not planning on staying too long. Just an hour or so.

Several tables in front was an entire table of German’s, obviously an entire family and friends, and one caught my eye right away. A women, probably in her 40’s or maybe 50’s. She is was what a Norwegian friend of mine calls, “butter face”. Meaning everything but her face looks like she is in her twenties. She was wearing “DameHosen”. 

DameHosen are the buck shin short’s with Bavarian suspenders. The female shaped version of LederHosen. Very few German woman can rock that look. Most German women are tall and have chicken legs, which do not look good in that attire. It takes a women with Tina Turner legs to rock DameHosen. The blouse is usually the traditional women’s dirndl blouse. The Authentic look is with off-white socks that end just below the knee, and low heeled shoes. The Americanized version is leather hot pant’s, with white thigh stockings and stiletto’s (we won’t see those in conservative Germany, and to be honest, I favor the more conservative look anyway).

With them, was a dude who strongly resembled Willie Nelson (American country music star, now in his 70’s). Tall, slender, old dude, with long white hair, a great smile and the appearance of being three sheets to the wind at around 12 noon. German’s do not like drunken people, so they were more or less just ignoring him, but hey, he’s part of the family, so it’s cool having him around anyway.

There came a time when Willie was looking around the room and he set his sights on me. He see’s someone sitting alone, smiling, appearing to have a great time, and sipping on a large glass of wine. He is probably thinking, gee that looks like someone in need of a friend, and I could use a friend too. So he comes over and I think he was trying to bum a cigarette. Maybe to strike of a conversation, or maybe he was out of money and desperate.

So I gave a sympathetic look, shrugged my shoulders, and said “Kein Rauchen”

(no smokes)

“Ich lernt Deutsch. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut!

(I’m learning German. My German is not good.)

Willie moved in a little, put an arm around me and smiled. We stood there for a few seconds as I was looking for something simple to say. I muttered “Sind ie mit Drei Kase hoch?” as I motioned in the direction of timeless beauty.

(“Are you with three cheese high?”, Three cheese high is a derogatory German phrase for a short person. Something that a person would only say in a kidding manner, while smiling sincerely.).

Willie smiles bigger, turns and heads back to his table, then with his back to me, he motions for me to follow him back to his table. Willie knows why I’m asking. This is part of the international subliminal dude language, that doesn’t need any translation.

I hesitated slightly, then found the courage to pick up my glass and join him, at the end of their table. Me and Willie are each living in our own world’s, where everyone likes us, and everyone one else at that table is pretty much ignoring us.  

Willie told me her name was Ulrike, which at the time I could not even come close to pronouncing. German r’s are rolled, which throws off my speech rhythm. Ulrike is the female version of Ulrich which means ‘Smart and Powerful’.  To me, she exuded both of those qualities, so she was named appropriately. Wille and I were talking a little, so I think they figured out that Willie had found a friend and invited him over.

Eventually, the mighty one turns to me and says, “Wer bist du?”

(The informal version on “Who are you?”)

I immediately came back with:

“Ich lernt Deutsch. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut! Ich bin die Party-Maus. Ich koche Kirschkuchen in der Kirche Küche. Du bist schon Buttercup. Wir Machen spass!!! Morgen die Katzenjammer.”

(“I am learning German. My German is not good! I am the Party Mouse. I cook cherry cake in the church kitchen. You are beautiful buttercup. Together, we make fun!!!” Tomorrow morning the cats wailing.)

German sentences are ultra simple, frank, and to the point. She probably thought that the buttercup reference, was about the flower that makes peoples skin glow. The early spring flower that fills a spring meadow and looks great against the tall green grass and a women in a white spring dress nestled among them.

Really it was a reference to the cartoon character Buttercup in the Power Puff Girls. The Power Puff Girls was an American carton in the 90’s representing three sides of most women. Bubbles was the sensitive one, who always looked at the positive side of things, Buttercup was the tom-boy who always wanted to use power to solve all of the problems, and Blossom was the mastermind, who got between the two opposing forces and manipulated them into a happy medium.

I cook cherry cake in the church kitchen, is a German phrase to practice while learning German. It has all of the difficult and confusing K sounding German words in it. Kirsch is cherry, Kirche is church, Küche is kitchen, and  Kuchen is cake. These are really easy to mix up. The look of the bakery person when I order ‘kichen church‘ is really puzzling to them. What do you mean you don’t know what cherry cake is?

Cats wailing is the German phrase for hangover.

I got a slightly delayed smile, so I guess that meant approval. Maybe or maybe not, but that was the best I could come up with.

German’s never small talk and they always wait for the person carrying the conversation to ask them a question before talking, which signals the transfer of the conversation onto them. Unfortunately I could not think of any simple question to ask, with my limited vocabulary. So I just picked up my glass and said “Prost” (Cheers). Her body language sent me a sign of approval.

A while later buttercup was collecting two Euro’s from everyone. I didn’t have a clue what for, but if that is what Buttercup wants, sure I’m fine with that.

She gives the total, about 50 Euro’s to the table service dude, and he brings back a huge hand written reserviert (reserved) sign and puts it on our table. Then we all head out of the tent. The mystery destination was a restaurant that must have been a fairly popular place, cause there was a long line outside.

Buttercup then asked everyone for two more Euro’s. Sure.

German lines are unlike anywhere else in the world. They don’t line up in a straight line. It is a method that I call “Crowd the counter technique.”, meaning that they just kind of stand around and take up all available space. If you are Closter phobic, or you need personal space, Germany is not the place for you.

Buttercup sees my hesitation, then grabs me by the hand and starts pulling me behind her, attacking the mass of people blocking our way.  She is like a broken record saying “Entschuldigung! Entschuldigung! Entschuldigung!”, which means Sorry or Excuse me. Fine for her, cause she is like 5 foot tall, with tiny feet, maybe a 120 pounds wet, and good looking. I am just trying to go slow, to make sure I don’t crush someone’s feet, and leaving a little time for people to open a hole big enough to get my ugly body in. She is yanking my arm out of the socket the whole way. I finally figure out that she wanted me right behind her to open a big enough hole for everyone else to slither in behind.

These people are looking a little upset, but no one is saying anything. So we get inside, she hands the 50 Euro’s in coins to the waiter, and I think she said, “Here is your tip. Where are our tables?”, on account of he sat us right down and we had quick service after that.

After we sit down, she turns to me and says in decent English. “I am surprised none said a word to us on the way in. I know, if I was waiting in that line, and someone did that to me, I would have had lots of words to say.”.  Somehow I don’t have any problem believing that. Maybe that is why she wanted some big dumb looking dude with her the whole way.

We eat, pay the bill, and head back to our table at the tent. The sun sets, and the big party is on. It had all of the characters and sounds of an authentic German Oktoberfest.

Six more hours of great time and it is still going strong, but Craig was up late the night before, he has a two mile walk up hill to get back to the villa and is beat.

I tell buttercup and Willie:

Tschüss! Die Party ist vorbei für Craig.“

(Bye, the party is over for Craig.)

And hit the road on foot.

Heino (Hi-No)

Heino, was Germany’s top pop star in the 70’s. He had a beautiful baritone voice, and he took old German folk songs and made pop versions of them. A massive hit in Germany. He had very full white hair and an eye condition that required him to always wear sun glasses. People thought he was albino which added to his mystical look. He was quite the ladie’s man, and I have often wondered if Mike Myer’s Austin borrowed part of the Heino mystic for his Austin Power’s character.

Heino performing a medley of his hits from the 70’s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqvtLoKzP2c

Usually there is a paid actor character, at the Oktoberfest who jumps up  on a table, sings a song, and kind of flirts with the Lady’s, that I call Heino. Not sure if that is who they are modeling their character on, but it is definitely a 70’s look that they have, and they are definitely singing and attempting to flirt.

His stage name comes from his sister Hannelore's difficulty pronouncing his given name "Heinz Georg".

 

In February 2013, Heino released a new album, called "Mit freundlichen Grüssen" (A standard letter closing meaning, Sincerely Yours, or with best regards), which topped the German album charts. It is cover versions of pop, hip-hop and rock songes, and at 80 something, Heino is on the cover wearing some getto bling.

 

Songs

Besides the traditional German songs, there are some American songs that are very popular at Oktober fest. Any song that is easy listening, would not be offensive to anyone, and has that feel good vibe to it, is very popular.  Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” is at the top of that list. Everyone, from every country in the world, knows every single word, and they all sing it as loudly as they can. There are times when it is so loud, you can’t even hear the band anymore. In fact, I think if the band stopped playing, the people would just keep on singing and not even notice that they band wasn’t playing anymore.

In 1976, a British band named ‘Smokie’, came out with a song called, “Living next door to Alice.”. It is about a dude who grew up next to a girl named Alice. He had a huge crush on her for the last 24 years, but never told her (the line in the song is something like, “for 24 years, gee, I wish I had the chance”). One day Sally calls him and ask’s if he heard about Alice. He looks out his window, a Limousine pulls into her drive, she gets in, and he never see’s her again. The rest of the song is about him being bummed out, cause he never told Alice that he loved her, but then Sally tells him that she loves him and was just waiting until Alice was out of the picture before telling him. However, he is still bummed out about Alice leaving.  The song and the melody have that easy listening, Partridge Family type vibe to it, but more of a somber feel to the melody. In 1995, the Dutch band  “Gompie” remade that song and added a large group of people yelling, “Allice? Who the fuck is Alice.”, in a convenient break in the song. It was a massive hit in Germany, and today whenever that song is played, the entire German population from 2 to 92 all yell, “Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?”.  It’s a huge hit at any family gathering in Germany.

Original version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6qnRS36EgE

Another crowd favorite came out in 1957.

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit                (A Toast, A Toast)
Der Gemütlichkeit                    (To feeling comfortable and at peace)
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit                (A Toast, A Toast) 
Der Gemütlichkeit                    (To feeling comfortable and at peace)

Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’Suffa!        (One, Two, Three, Drink Up!)

 

This is often follow by one of the following call and responses:

Call->  Prost ihr Säcke!"          (Cheers you prick’s)

Response -> Prost du Sack!    (Cheers you prick!)

 

Or an old military call and response:

Call-> Zicke zacke, zicke zacke (Military meaning ‘He who eats the cow, shits the cow!’)

Response -> hoi hoi hoi!         (Hey, Hey, Hey!, or I agree wholeheartedly)

 

Cheers !!!

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Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time.

Craig

 

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Comments (1) -

Jimmer
11/22/2016 10:19:23 PM #

haha, the party is over for Craig.

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