Laufgelage and an outing in Oberfranken

This is going to be a short one because not a lot has transpired over the last two weeks. One particularly notable event, which was actually the only interesting thing to happen during the week before last, was the Laufgelage (“walking feast”). It is apparently the second biggest social event in Erlangen after the Bergkirchweih, held once a semester and consists of a three course dinner shared with complete strangers.

Basically, you grab a partner and sign up and you are matched with two other pairs for each course. One of the courses you must prepare and serve to two other couples at your home, and for the other two courses you have to walk to the homes of other people to be fed and watered. So you get to meet 12 new people while simultaneously enjoying dinner and drinks, which actually does sound like a lot of fun.

But something to remember is that Germans don’t socialise the same way that people from English-speaking countries do, especially in situations where they have to deal with new, unfamiliar people. Many seem to suffer from an entrenched reticence when forced into such situations. For that reason, the Laufgelage is a good thing and is precisely what German people need.

I didn’t actually participate in the event; Annette and her friend, Sarah, did and I remained a bystander, even though I didn’t get to join them for the entrée or dessert. In any case, they decided to put together a highly curious dish: pasta with pumpkin, red onion, chestnuts, chili and an orange sauce. Then four random German girls rocked up at our apartment, we all ate together and it was a quite nice and comfortable experience. I’ll probably participate in the next Laufgelage next year, if I can find a suitable partner by that time.

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On Friday I popped into Nuremberg to catch up with Mirj, one of my tandem partners. For those who don’t know tandem is a method of language learning via mutual language exchange. Anyway, we ate a very cool, modern Franconian restaurant called Fränk’ness where I consumed a so-called “Sauerbraten” burger which was surprisingly scrumptious.

On another note, this year will be my first Xmas away from my family and outside of Australia and I really had no idea what the hell I would be doing for it because flying back to Australia would be ridiculously expensive. Fortunately, Mirj invited me to Xmas with her family, which was super kind of her and I’m very excited to experience an actual winter Xmas for the first time.

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The Sauerbraten burger: slow-cooked pulled beef, red wine mayo, lingonberries, pickled red cabbage and “crumble”

Later on Friday, old mate David arrived and we did a day trip to Bamberg in Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) on Sat. I spent a weekend in Bamberg, the unofficial beer capital of the world, two years ago and was very keen to go back. We visited Brauerei Spezial and I enjoyed a much needed Seidla (500ml measure) of my, perhaps, favourite beer in all of Germany, a Kellerbier christened Ungespundetes or, simply, “U“. The U seems to only be available fresh on tap and, to date, I have never seen it in a bottle. Beer from Bamberg is generally only sold within a small area around the city to ensure freshness and even it came in bottles it would probably be tricky to find in Erlangen. David tried the smoked wheat beer and I was pleased that he didn’t hate it since smoked beer can be highly polarising.

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Spezial Ungespundetes: a truly magnificent beer

Anyway, we explored the old town and had a short break at one of the newer breweries which I hadn’t visited before. In Ambräusianum, which is a stone’s throw from the famous, tourist-saturated Schlenkerla, I sampled three house beers, a Helles, a Weizen and a Keller, which were all disappointingly average.

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Beer sampling at Ambräusianum

We later had lunch at what seemed like a quite popular restaurant, Kacheloffen, which had some absolutely delicious Franconian tucker, I got Schäufele (roast pork shoulder) and David had his first Franconian Sauerbraten. On Sunday we gorged ourselves on even more Franconian food; David got roast duck and I got peppered carp. The carp was delicious and tasted more like roast chicken than a fish; the only drawback was that there were quite a few bones.

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Peppered carp with potato and endive salad at Ritter St. Georg

In other news, I’ve booked a trip up north to Hamburg on the second weekend of December and also plan to also visit the cities of Bremen, Lübeck and Schwerin during this adventure. Most of my time in Germany has been spent in the south, so it should be very fascinating to delve into the cuisine and culture up north. The beer in the north of Germany doesn’t have a particularly good reputation but that’s a luxury I’m willing to temporarily forgo.

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