Richard’s recent post about his stay in Munich reminded me of my visit to that city, and to its legendary Hofbrauhaus, in the summer of 1980.
I was traveling around Europe on a shoestring after my college graduation and, like Richard, was conserving money by staying in hostels and not eating out. However, I had heard about the Hofbrauhaus and decided I just had to drink a beer there. So I scrimped even more on the days leading up to the Munich leg of my journey to make that dream a reality (and a windfall due to a surprise invitation to stay, for free, at an Odense commune sure helped).
After I arrived in Munich and found a hostel I went right to the Hofbrauhaus. It was mid-afternoon and the place already was jammed. Patrons sat at long common tables, and burly waitresses carrying fistfuls of beer steins and platters of food weaved through the mob. I found an open spot, ordered a huge tankard of beer, and was promptly engaged in conversation by young women also seated at the table. They said they were members of a local bowling team celebrating the end of their season. They were happy, loud and red-faced, inhaling snuff and guzzling beer, and eager to practice their English with an American.
I don’t remember what we talked about — I doubt if they would, either — but they insisted I try some snuff, and after a few more gulps of beer I agreed. They demonstrated that you tapped out the snuff onto a spot on your hand at the base of your thumb and snorted it up. It was the only time I’ve ever tried snuff. It was disgusting, but I appreciated their company and their generosity. I felt welcome at that loud, bustling place, and the beer was good, too.