I am not a timid eater. Give me a chance to taste exotic foreign fare – snake, pig brains, alligator, bull’s tails, baby eels – and I rarely turn it down. But I finally met my limits last August in a Munich beer hall.
I loved Munich’s beer halls and beer gardens. Some could seat thousands of revelers, and even when empty they seemed to ring with drinking songs and roars of bosky laughter. The oldest were built in the 7th century, and a great deal of the city’s history has taken place in them – Mozart writing symphonies, Hitler rising to power, everybody holding his bachelor party. In the Hofbräuhaus, there’s a gutter under the tables, where centuries ago men who were too drunk to stand or didn’t want to face the freezing temperatures in the outdoor privy would simply relieve themselves under the table. Such a practical solution; so hard to see why it died out.
“Yes, it’s delicious,” I said.
“No, I mean it’s good for you.”
I stared at my portion of weisswurst which (I calculated later) contained 25 grams of fat, 73 grams of cholesterol, and .78 grams of salt. To say nothing of the giant pretzel and liters of beer ...
“It’s because we don’t use preservatives,” she added comfortably.
In that moment I realized two things. 1) Who was I to judge whether this breakfast was any less healthy than the typical American breakfast of chemicals and white sugar masquerading as a bowl of cereal? And 2) I didn’t have to say “yes” to every opportunity to eat local foods.
By showing a bit more common sense at some meals, I felt free to indulge in the local fare at others. When something truly special presented itself, I could say “yes!” or “tak” or “да” with all the enthusiasm I’d shown for the fried flies. Bon appétit!