The most anticipated festival on this sailing city’s calendar has kicked off (or will officially kick off today when Joachim Gauck opens it). Kieler Woche is not only the largest sailing event in the world, but, and perhaps more importantly, it is one of the largest Volksfeste in Germany. And in a country that adores its Volksfeste, that is quite the achievement.
Despite the myriad activities happening across the city for the next nine days, including several live music stages with some German classics like the Irish Ray Gearvey (his success in Germany is so … quintessentially German somehow) and other stars like Anastacia … and the sailing, for us the key element of Keiler Woche is the food. Namely, the International Food Market.
Annually, it stretches across the Rathausplatz, holding stalls from many corners of the globe. Everyone gathers to binge on French cheese, Pakistani curries, Finnish elk burgers, Belgian waffles, Thai noodles, Spanish chorizo, Italian seafood, Danish hotdogs, Hungarian langosch, Argentinian empanadas … and wash it all down with all the world’s beers, wines and schnapps. If you’re lucky, the live music stage will have some sort of band pumping, alternating between some schlager classics and country covers.
This year the Australian stall (sponsored by Fosters … can I please reiterate for one final time, I promise you we don’t drink it. We really don’t. We dooooon’t.) features a choice of three burgers; steak, lamb, and kangaroo. Kangaroo wasn’t on the menu last year, which was surprising, because Europe seems to assume we feast on it regularly (we don’t, we really don’t – we can, and some do, but it isn’t the national dish) but it has made it this year. And my goodness, is it popular. They were grilling up vast quantities of the meat yesterday, and there were delays as hungry Germans placed their orders for the typisch Aussie meat (which, in actual fact, is lamb). SG finally got his kangaroo burger which, pleasingly, featured beetroot (because we do, we do, we really do love beetroot on burgers) and rated it rather well. I have been very impressed, both years, with how the Aussie stall has acquitted itself; a selection of homegrown wines (although not amazing ones) Bundaberg rum (a classic) and good meat. No cringe factor in sight (like, you know, crocodile skewers and alarmingly-named things like ‘Crikey Mate Fried Onion Dippers’ or ‘Flamin’ Uluru Emu Pie’ that a certain American-owned chain restaurant seems to favour).
And so the eating begins. I dipped my toes in last night with a warm, chocolate-drizzled Belgian waffle. My stomach these days isn’t functioning at full capacity, it has been squished into some sort of unknown location, possibly between my ribs, possibly between my kidneys, who knows.
Today we will head to the water and likely eat pommes at the best pommes stand (ie: the one with the biggest variety of sauces) and SG will probably find room for a half-metre Bratwurst.
And then, who knows? Kiel is our food oyster for the next eight days.