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München at the Market

Written by: Brooke Estep

When we arrived in Munich, the first thing to catch my eye was the Victualienmarkt, also known as “the food market.” This collection of green-roofed wooden stalls, covered with pine branches, Christmas lights, and a plethora of holiday décor held the promise of handmade gifts, local delicacies, and much adventure.

Let me tell you –I was not disappointed.

The aesthetic of Munich’s famous food (or victual) market is just as charming as its contents. Even though we have an abundance of fresh produce at home, in Aldi or Kroger, I have never felt so compelled to buy oranges or fresh ginger when a sweater-clad elderly man is selling them from woven baskets under string lights.

The Victualienmarkt, from the end of November until December 31st is filled with “Weihnachten” (or Christmas) goods, and most every shop decorates their exterior while bundling up the interior for the holiday season. Stalls and tents overflow with fresh pine wreaths, dried fruit garlands, handmade ornaments with pine cones and cinnamon sticks, and other festive gifts. Other stations are filled with the smell of roasted chestnuts in patterned paper cones and a German Christmas specialty drink, glühwein (pronounced glue-wine). This mulled cider (with or without red wine) has spices and sometimes fruit in it. At the Weihnachtmarkt (Christmas market), you purchase the glühwein and the mug it comes in. You can return the mug, if you choose, and the stall owner will give you a few euros back. Or you can keep it as a souvenir, like I did, because they usually have pictures of the market and the date printed on the mug.

Even thought the market is Christmas-themed, there are still plenty of specialty food shops to visit. We passed multiple cheese shops, produce and grocery shops, and my personal favorite was the pickle and olive shop. Barrels of Gherkin pickles sat next to tubs of stuffed and spiced olives, ready to be consumed. A couple of of us tried Gherkin pickles, but to our dismay they were sweeter than we expected. For 60 cents, it was a memory worth making!

This charming market is right in the heart of the city, where tourists and locals mingle as though they were friends, cozying up to the same table and drinking hot cider, conversing about which blend of tea to purchase (helpfully translating from German to English), or shopping for cheese next to each other. Community and bonding over food are two precious things to me and apparently to Munich as well, since they placed it right at the city center.

The Victualienmarkt has already become a highlight of my time in München, and I already have a list in my notebook of things I need to go back for, whether that be gifts, food, or a sourer pickle.

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Brooke Estep

Paris-Munich Winter
Marshall University

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