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Turnabout’s Fair: German Food in India?


I recently mentioned that I had eaten a nice curry dish while flying to India on Lufthansa, the German airline. Well, it seems turnabout’s fair play. Last evening I enjoyed an authentic German meal here in Hyderabad, with a hint of Oktoberfest provided, and in the company of a truly international cast of characters.

It was most enjoyable.

Lufthansa, Kingfisher Beer and the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces have combined as sponsors of an annual event here in Hyderabad. The locale is the phenomenal Ballroom at the Taj Krishna, a sight you simply have to see to believe. The staircase brings you down two floors, by European reproduction statuary.

I bought my dinner ticket a bit late, but there was still a bit of room. After the obligatory security checks (yes, even here they’re careful) I was through into the ballroom itself, ready to sample the promised German wares.

I was startled to see the size of the buffet being prepared! Grinning like a wolf in bunny heaven, I searched around for a place to sit. The band (imported from Deutschland by Lufthansa, who also brought a pair of chefs, many of the fixings, and all the costumed dancing girls) was about to get started.

I was startled once again; the band didn’t have an oompah horn, and no accordion! What kind of Oktoberfest band could this be? Certainly not one with any self-respect. Oh well, I reasoned, we ARE in India. At least there would be beer and dancing girls.

Grand StaircaseI found a table with only three young adults and asked if I could join. They were openly gracious and I sat on the left end of one of the long benches. Each table was expected to seat (at least) ten by the high point of the evening. Waiters were bringing around pitchers of beer and glasses, so I reluctantly forced myself to accept one (a glass, not a pitcher) and went along to go along.

Within a few minutes my table filled up with more young folks. They were from: the Netherlands, Hungary, England, Brazil, Iran, Germany and India. They were all happy and boisterous, which suited my mood just fine. Beer was disappearing so fast that Janusz persuaded one of the waiters to only serve us; that kept him busy enough, as it turned out. The spirit of the evening was so light that even calling the young men from India Ganguly and Dhoni only got laughs all around.

While the band ran through an opening set of modern German songs, rock-and-roll standards, Tejano and Salsa, and even an Italian lullabye, we in the audience struggled through more beer and watched the buffet beiing armed stocked. A truly impressive array of warmers and tureens were being assembled, and the smells were truly awe-inspiring. Even the small gods in my tummy were raising a ruckus from the aromas!

Finally the band moved on classic Trinklieder and the buffet was opened for grazing. I waited a few minutes out of politeness to my new friends (and not, as some may have hinted, because I was dozing from the brew, a base slur and completely untrue; besides, the band was too loud for snoozing), then I went for it.

The rewards were immediate. I found a Tomatensuppe mit Basilikum and it was wonderful, topped with fresh Parmigiano croutons. (Is than an oxymoron? Fresh croutons?) Warm bread made stowing that item a pleasure. Next I collected some Bratwurst und Knackwurst, mit Sauerkraut und Rotkohl. (Sorry, my German accent slipped in there a bit. I’ll try to keep it in check in the future, but with food this good it’s really tough to control!) I balanced those choices (literally) with some Rindsroulade und Bratkartoffeln, dann habe ich einige hinzugefügt Schweinebraten mit Soße. (Ach du Lieber! There I am for losing my Englisch but again!)

Oktoberfest Gear

Ahem, yes. Well. With all those tasty morsels gone, I struggled to my feet and wobbled towards the dessert board. Schokolade! Schwarzwälder-Kirschtorte! Pfeffernüsse! I was Tot and gone to Himmel, you betcha.

After a while the music was over, the last of the beer drunk, the last of the beer drunks carted off. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and so I waddled rolled headed off to my room, perchance to dream of German goodies. It was $20 well spent, and I had made some great new friends.

What about the dancing girls, you ask? (You would.) Well, they were a trio of grandmas from Düsseldorf, and their costumes were too warm for the hall; they left early…

Enjoy the (German Festival) Heat!

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