Order the Sausage Tower and a side of potato pancakes. It’s good stuff.
This past weekend, we finally made it to Hofbräuhaus on the west side of Belleville. The wait was less than thirty minutes, a band played bouncy German music, and a St. Louis FC soccer game was showing on a nearby TV—all in all, a barrel of fun.
Caroline ate mostly applesauce and a few tiny nibbles of potato pancake, but Phil and I sampled extensively from the three-tier “tower” of wursts, sauerkraut, potato salad, and pretzels. The dining room, with long, picnic-style tables, feels airy, its high arched ceilings adorned with Bavarian-blue checks. For a couple hours it seemed like we’d taken the world’s quickest flight to Munich.
A dozen summers ago, Phil and I, with his brother Jay, had visited Hofbräuhaus in Munich when we were there for the World Cup. While there, I remember being struck by how much the local people looked like my relatives, like my people who came to America from Germany in the 1880s. Back then, long before my mom took the deep dive into genealogy research, I had little interest in my German heritage. We were there for the sightseeing and soccer.
At the original Hofbräuhaus, I ordered the Hefe Weizen. (When in Rome . . .) I drank only a few sips, since I’d never really liked beer and thought it tasted like hair spray. (I’ve never tasted hair spray, but I thought it might taste like beer.) We snapped a picture of Jay holding two beers and checked Hofbräuhaus off our places-to-see-in-Munich list.
A couple of long years later, I was pregnant with Caroline, and while I never craved ice cream with pickles or canned peas with powdered sugar, I craved one thing: beer. It was like my German DNA suddenly woke up and started making unreasonable demands. Imagine a fetus in lederhosen; I did.
Funny thing is, people frown on pregnant women chugging beer, so I quenched my thirst with root beer. Mug, IBC, Fitz’s root beer—I liked it all. But my favorite was the strong stuff, Barq’s. Then after Caroline was born, when the coast was clear, I ordered beer. It was everything my pregnant self had dreamed of (and it didn’t taste like hair spray).
At Hofbräuhaus on Saturday night, we drank Coke. Maybe beer next time. We did have a lot of fun watching little kids dance to “Roll Out the Barrel.” Caroline is too mature these days to get on the dance floor (especially if the music is not covered by Kidz Bop), so we sang and laughed in our seats.
In my opinion, the food at Saint Augustine’s Wurstmarkt, held every fall, rivals that of Hofbräuhaus. But German oom-pah-pah music is good for the soul in June, too. All I need sometimes is to sit across from Phil and Caroline at a long wooden table where it’s too loud to have a conversation.
Because love is devouring a tower of sausage—with my people.