The Irish have St. Patrick's Day, Italians have the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and Germans have the ubiquitous Oktoberfest as their most prominent cultural celebration in the US. While it's easy to get the lederhosen and pigtails down for a celebration of this harvest festival, the food might trip some people up when going for a real, authentic Oktoberfest party. To help your snack table keep up with the decor and spirit of the occasion, here are four traditional German snacks that are essential for any Oktoberfest get-together.
Much like Italian restaurants provide a roll and olive oil before a meal, German meal etiquette often includes a beefy, doughy pretzel to snack on before the main course arrives. A thin, crispy knot won't do in this case, but something chewy with big chunks of salt on top is sure to please. For bonus points, adding a dish or two of hearty course, brown mustard is the perfect traditional accompaniment to a filling German pretzel.
While typically enjoyed as a plate of fried veal or pork, this traditional snack can be appetizer-ized by just adding toothpicks to make instant, easy to pick up schnitzel bites. Add some traditional dipping sauces like a simple mushroom cream sauce or a veggie-packed zigeuner sauce to make your schnitzel stand out from the pack, all while exposing your guests to some serious German cuisine in the process.
If you want the real deal, you won't get more authentic than the Southern German and Austrian classic: Leberkäsesemmel. This sandwich is very popular as a form of fast food even today, making it a great way to keep your menu in line with the times. The meat of the sandwich is Leberkäse, which is like bologna, so it will be familiar to your guests. What can make or break the sandwhich, however, is the authentic kaiser roll it's served on. In fact, these kaiser rolls make any sandwich at your party better and more authentically German, so if you're going to be serving lunch too, an extra bag of kaiser rolls will never steer you wrong.
Of course, no Oktoberfest party is complete without some good beer. Styles that invoke the truest German sentiments are a pilsner for the light beer lovers in the crowd and a bock for fans of a darker brew. Wheat beers are also common to German cultures if you're looking for a style that's a little outside the box.