On September 29, 2017, the OU German Club organized a großer Stammtisch at Das Boot Camp in Norman, OK. I should probably start by defining the term großer Stammtisch. Translated literally from German, Stammtisch means cracker barrel, though not referring to the restaurant so well loved throughout the United States. In this context, a Stammtisch is a gathering of individuals to discuss current events and other topics of interest. And the adjective “großer,” which precedes the word Stammtisch, simply means “larger” or “greater.”
Unfortunately, as a newbie to the German language, I was unable to fully participate in the discussions going on at this gathering – much went over my head. Nonetheless, it was eye opening to hear individuals speak fluently in a foreign language, even while drinking what could easily be described as a substantial amount of beer. This leads me to a discussion of the food and drink at the Stammtisch. I had only had German food once before, and I could barely remember what I had; as I recall, it was Spätzl, German pasta covered in Gouda cheese. At the großer Stammtisch, I tried one of the most famous German dishes, Wiener schnitzel. Essentially, it’s breaded, fried pork. Although it was definitely tasty, in my opinion, Chick-Fil-A has them beat when it comes to fried food (although as an enormous fan of Chick-Fil-A, I might not be completely unbiased). What was more remarkable than the food, however, was the large quantities of alcohol that could be purchased at the restaurant. Their signature glass in which beer was served was a glass in the shape of a boot, and these glasses ranged in size from one liter to a massive three liters. No one ordered the three-liter option, but the idea of drinking anything, much less beer, in that quantity astounds the mind.
Although I did not get to participate in many German conversations, attending the Großer Stammtisch was an illuminating experience that, I am sure, only begins to capture the feeling of actually being in Germany, where everyone speaks a language that is foreign to you. One day, hopefully by the time I go to Germany, I’ll be able to join in these conversations. The Großer Stammtisch organized by the OU German club offered me a great opportunity to see the great German love of beer and food and experience conversation in a language other than my own.