I started my tradition of buying strawberries at the Viktualienmarkt the very first time I went to Munich. Traveling overseas can leave you in desperate need of grounding and this simple ritual helps me shift from hectic to feeling at home.
Viktualienmarkt is an open air market spanning almost 250,000 square feet around several city blocks.
What began as a primitive farmer’s market at the turn of the 1800s has flourished into foodie heaven, without any pretense.
My song for this entry is Templeton the Rat (of Charlotte’s Web) singing “A Veritable Smorgasbord” as he walks around eating everything he can get his greasy little rat paws on.
Victual, the Latin word for food, and Markt, the German word for market, really says it all. This food market was originally in the center of Marienplatz, Munich’s main city square.
As it began expanding too far to be contained within Marienplatz, King Max ordered that the market relocate to a larger square just around the corner.
Most cities have a farmers market. I’ve been to them in other states and other countries, but this one is the most impressive. Rain or shine, at Viktualienmarkt you can find traditional butcheries, local dairy, and the freshest produce.
Most days, the market is open from 8 am until the dinner rush ends. This shop has eggs from birds I had not even heard of, some of them dyed and elaborately decorated.
Certain farmers specialize in Italian, Swiss, or French cheese, but you will find varieties from around the world.
This is not a safe place for cheese addicts.
Rows of gourmet olives, tapenades, pepper spreads, cooking oils, dried herbs, living herb plants, and spices were delightful.
Shop after shop of fresh breads, pastries, cakes, chocolates, honey, Turkish candies, roasted coffee beans, and other sweets present endless options.
You can also find homemade bath and body products, balms, salts, cosmetics, accessories, and gifts here. My favourite shop is this build-your-own bouquet stand:
Locals do their regular shopping here in the Viktualienmarkt, and you will often see them carrying reusable thermal grocery bags.
A very close German friend has often said that the Germans do not like when guests touch their produce, and they even have a few crass sayings against the transgression.
In the center and all throughout, there are Biergartens where you can sit and enjoy the items you have purchased. There is also a massive beer stand that is set up like a cafeteria queue. When you decide which beer you like, you pay and follow the corresponding line to that tap.
You will receive your beer in a large glass stein that you have already paid to borrow, and when you return it they refund the surcharge.
Ever been to Aldi? It is the same concept as depositing a quarter that you get back when you return the cart. Efficient, effective, and logical *swoon*
Here is a Youtube video I found that has some better shots of the market:
In 1516 the Münchner Reinheitsgebot, Munich’s Beer Purity Laws, were established and mandated that the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley and hops. Any beer found to be impure was confiscated and… well, they say it was “destroyed.”
Restaurants in Viktualienmarkt serve everything from street food and sushi to casual German fare; from fancy Italian ristorantes and daily-caught seafood to Asian woks and tiny cantinas. Most offer these items in to go packages too.
Roasted potatoes, sausages, schnitzels, pretzels, frites, rotkohl, sauerkraut, potato salad, spätzle, and other standard German dishes are found in abundance.
Some places have a makeshift dining room under tents with clear plastic walls.. Those are nice for cold rainy days, but the best way is to sit in a Biergarten.
We visited one Imbißtube (snack stand) for a small snack to go with our beer and were given a large slab of pork schnitzel and a soft buttery pretzel. Fair enough.
There are currently around 150 different shops inside the Viktualienmarkt with every type of food and treat a person could ask for, and “that’s where a rat can glut! Glut! Glut GLUT!”
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