Even though Oktoberfest is technically the 16-day festival celebrating beer held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, that runs from late September to the first weekend in October, there's still time to celebrate.
Thanks to a reminder from reader Pat Curiel of Portage, who shared her traditional German Potato Salad recipe for this week, even our changing of the fall colors is reason enough for us to extend our own Oktoberfest menus and celebrations.
It's been a decade since I traveled on a 10-day visit to Germany to visit Munich in the summer of 2011 with my sports writer friend Jim Rusnak as my guide.
While Jim spent some of his college time at Wabash living in Germany, it was all new to me experiencing life inside the ivy covered walls of Munich, which ranks as the third largest German city and is prized for its cultural wealth.
It serves as the city base for the European Patents Office and the Bavarian capital.
What began as a small village founded in the ninth century near a Benedictine abbey was eventually named "Munich" or "Munchen," the German word for the monks that founded its location.
For tourists and travelers, highlights of Munich include a visit to the rowdy beer hall Hofbrauhaus, where I joined legions of drinkers guzzling brews while I recall singing along with an 'oompah' band's rendition of John Denver's "Country Roads."
There are also the art galleries, antique shops, boutiques and sidewalk cafes under the colonnades along the wealthy and fashionable way called Maximiliansplatz.
The city's downtown government square, called Marienplatz, with its centerpiece dancing and jousting animated figures in the clock towers of the Glockenspiel, attracts crowds throughout the day.
On a somber note, this summer marked the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, which were held from Aug. 26 to Sept. 10, 1972. The international event was overshadowed by the Munich massacre, when 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, a West German police officer, and five terrorists were killed in a standoff in the Olympic Village, which I toured during my trip. Overgrown by weeds, with fountains now dry and crumbling, it remains as a moving reminder of what happened decades before.
A short day trip from Munich offers tourists the convenience and cultural advantages of a visit to the "Sound of Music" city of Salzburg, Austria, the Swiss Alps or King Ludwig II's famous "fairy tale castle" Neuschwanstein, which is nestled in the side of a mountain in Bavaria and served as the inspiration for the castles of Walt Disney's amusement parks.
As for Pat's delicious recipe showcased today, German "Kartoffelsalat" is a popular potato salad variation that is prepared with vinegar and oil, rather than mayonnaise, and adds bacon bits when served warm.
My dad has been busy digging up the last of our tiny red "new potatoes" from our farm gardens, which are perfect for Pat's recipe.
Add sausages (like Bratwurst, Weisswurst, or Wieners) served alongside this popular potato based German dish, and you're just a clank of a beer stein away from being transported to the menu world of Munich.
Pat's German Potato Salad
8 to 10 potatoes
1 pound good-quality bacon
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry or yellow mustard
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
DIRECTIONS: Boil potatoes; let cool. Peel and dice potatoes into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces and place in a sprayed glass casserole or baking dish. Cook bacon until crisp; crumble and set aside. Use bacon drippings to saute onions until tender. Stir in flour, sugar, salt, pepper and mustard. Stir in water and vinegar and cook until bubbly. Pour mixture over potatoes and mix; gently stir in crumbled bacon. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes. Makes 8 servings.