Herbst, or fall, is now upon us. I pulled my head out of my textbook for a while to enjoy it in downtown Kaiserslautern this weekend. My exploits allowed me to taste some delicious regional specialties.
Kaiserslautern is in the Rhineland-Pfalz state, which produces much wine. Fall is a great time for Neuer Wein, or new wine; this is fermented freshly pressed grape juice (must). I have also seen it called Federweißer (feather white). I first bought a cup of it at one of the stands downtown. Oh my goodness, was it good! This is a drink that could get people into trouble, methinks. It basically tastes like effervescent grape juice; I really didn't taste any alcohol in it (it's about 4% ABV). I continued on to the farmers' market and picked up a bottle of it for 3.50 euros. I learned that the wine should be consumed within a few days; it looks as if I need to have some friends over, stat! The bottle needs to be stored upright. The cap is not airtight since it needs to release gas from fermentation.
In addition to the Neuer Wein, I enjoyed some Kürbis suppe, or pumpkin soup. This was delicious and hearty. I can't imagine that it was remotely healthful as I believe it was loaded with cream, but did it ever hit the spot. I bought a bowl for 2 euros and it was served with a piece of bread.
After visiting downtown yesterday, I continued the fall fun today. The Gartenschau (Garden Show) hosted a giant pumpkin competition in which local farmers brought their pumpkins to be weighed. They even had a competition for the longest gourd and an unofficial, friendly competition between two farmers with another type of gourd (typical guys! ;). It was rather funny to see such a serious group of men examining the pumpkins and bringing them in via tractor with great care. I was shocked by the weight of the pumpkins; some weighed as much as a horse I owned (1,200 pounds)!
I then went on to have a special meal of Zwiebelkuchen (onion torte) and more Neuer Wein at Cafe Fegert. The Zwiebelkuchen is another fall regional specialty; the one I ate today was like a quiche. It was very rich, salty, and good. It's another dish that's fun to enjoy as a treat, but I won't be eating it often.
So far, I have enjoyed fall in Kaiserslautern, both in how it "tastes" and the activities.