Today was the last day of Volkfest here in Ingolstadt and although the weather was grey, it didn’t stop us from visiting once again the Volksfestplatz. This has been my first taste of Bavarian Oktoberfest and so far, it’s really good. It’s really more than just Beer, sausages and huge Pretzel, it’s one of a kind festival , for all ages & family oriented, cozy and Gezellig as the Dutchie may call it.
Before we say Auf wiedersehen to Oktoberfest, I grab something that really interests me, the German Lebkuchen-the original Gingerbread! Now who wouldn’t be captivated by this yummy looking heart-shaped cookie? Hmmm Lebkuchenhertz…
I had my first taste of Lebkuchen when my husband brought some from his business trip in Munich last year. Here in Bavaria, Fall season comes along with abundance of these threats which is clearly seen in the shelves of local supermarkets, along with German baked cakes and pies in food stalls in the city center, and of course, a crowd pleaser in every Volksfest. There’s something very festive when you see these Lebkuchen hearts hanging in Fruhshoppen. You just got to grab one!
The one country that takes gingerbread making to a whole other level, especially for the holidays, is Germany. Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is the one with the longest tradition of flat, shaped gingerbread. Christmas season is when gingerbread makes its most impressive appearance. The German practice of making Lebkuchen houses (gingerbread houses) has caught on worldwide and is a fun and festive tradition in numerous countries around the world.
They range in size from small saucers to large platters and are strung with a ribbon for easy wearing. Of course they are decorated with the obligatory messages of love: “I love you” (Ich liebe Dich), “You’re my sweetheart” (Du bist mein sußes Herzchen) and “I think only of you” (Ich denke nur noch an Dich) and of course, since we lived in Bavaria, the famous Bavarian phrase, I like you “I mog di”.
Nuremberg, Germany is considered to be the mecca of gingerbread. Each bakery keeps its recipe a secret. The Lebkuchen (gingerbread) has a Protected Designation of Origin and must be produced within the boundaries of the city. In 1643, the city officially recognized the Lebkuchen-Baker profession by creating the “League of Lebkuchen-Bakers.” In 1645, the league created strict guidelines that commercial bakers had to follow in order to sell their lebkuchen.
Did you know that in Nuremberg, Germany, the quality of the lebkuchen gingerbread was so high that it was used as currency?
Leaving the Oktoberfest grounds without one of these for your sweetie is against the rules. So if you’re in Germany and have seen these yummy threat hanging in one of the stalls and bakeries, go ahead, indulge and have a bite. It is Goodbye for now for Oktoberfest but definitely a warm Hello to Lebkuchen season!