Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Making, Wandering, and Feasting: May Festival at the Neuberg Abbey

This last Saturday we celebrated May Day at an abbey nestled in the grassy hills of Neuberg.  It all seemed so magical: here I was, in Germany, going to a Maifest with monks! Beer! A spitted ox!  It was so Christian and pagan all at once - we were inviting the new spring to come in but doing it all in a sanctioned cloister of godly men.  (I was less interested in attending the festivities for Walpurgis the night before - it basically involves tramping up the Philosophenweg at the dead of night, which would be great fun except that in this instance you'd be surrounded by drunken university students carrying fake torches.  If it were more pagan, and less drunken-college-party, I would go.)  Anyway!  The abbey grounds were indeed lovely.

 It was a pearly, gray day, and the walk there was nice and refreshing.

The monks run a shop full of local products, many of them made at the abbey.

Fresh eggs!  The eggs in Heidelberg, in general, seem fresher: the yolks are a brighter color, the shells often have a bit of down stuck on them.  It may not mean anything, but it seems a bit closer to the earth to me.

I am a weak-kneed fool when it comes to bottles and jars of handmade goodies.  Witness that I have 1) my own homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam at home as well as 2) unfinished jars of quince and plum preserves from a local restaurant.  So what did I do?  Promptly bought a jar of apple-ginger jelly.  Good thing I am not a drinker or I would have made off with a few bottles of monk-brewed apple brandy and what-not.

We were promised a whole spitted ox (it said so in the adverts) but we apparently arrived too late: the earlier May Day revelers had gnawed that thing to the bone!  Though I must say, this is a small ox.  "Must have been a baby ox," I remarked, to which my friend said, "Please don't say that again!"

Never mind, we had excellent roast trout and potatoes,

we watched the monks imbibe,

and did some imbibing ourselves (along with some Feuerwurst and pretzels).

And the walk home in the twilight, along the river, was lovely.

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