'The Amazing Race' Pit Stop Fiver: Welcome to the City of Hamburgers
Friday, March 05, 2010
The Amazing Race this week sees the eight remaining teams fly over the Atlantic and into Germany, home of Beethoven, the Luftwaffe and black forest cakes. Although, of course, that's not the only thing the racers will have to deal with. I'm sure they'll deal with many other different things like train stations and heights and beer. Oh, yes, beer. Didn't we see that coming?
As always, I'll set up this Sunday's episode in cheap style, armed with Wikipedia and what little knowledge I have of the country. It doesn't make me a more reliable source than most others, but at least it makes me a willing student in learning more about the country that gave us Adolf Hitler. As if that's a good thing.
The Germans love their beer. What else would you expect from the country that's home to the Oktoberfest? Germany has one of the highest amounts of beer consumed per person: it's estimated that the average German drinks 116 liters of the stuff per year. The country has produced bear since the beginning of the 9th century, since hops--an important ingredient in beer--was prevalent in the region. In fact, the first instances of hop cultivation was recorded in the present-day Hallertau region in the year 736.
And Hamburgers, too! Take note: big letter H. The teams are headed to the city of Hamburg--it may be the second smallest region in the country, but it's a major center of culture and industry. And yes, the city lent its name to the hamburgers we usually grab at the nearby drive-thru. Although it's a purely American product, it is usually attributed to immigrants from Hamburg. Just to make things clear, people from Hamburg are called Hamburgers, too. And they're not really the flame-grilled sort.
Hamburg is a castle nobody knows about. That's where the German city got its name from: a castle named Hammaburg, built upon the orders of Charlemagne in the 9th century. While the word "burg" means castle, nobody can determine what the "hamma" means. Nobody can even determine where that castle used to stand.
The Beatles started here. Okay, so that's a misnomer. They did start in Liverpool, but they lived and performed for a few years in Hamburg, partly because their booking agent, Allan Williams, had another successful band in the city. They performed in several nightspots, but things went awry: they played at another club and broke contract, George Harrison was deported for being underage, and Paul McCartney (along with former Beatle Pete Best) were arrested for attempted arson. Still, it was there where they released their first record, which led them to record executive Brian Epstein. The rest--along with their famous hairstyles--was history.
There's a lot of music going on in Hamburg. Apart from the steady flow of musicals in the city, Hamburg boasts of a strong alternative scene, and at one point was a major part of the heavy metal scene. Germans also love their electronic instruments: the psychedelic trance scene is dominant in Hamburg. (I must mention, Kraftwerk--arguably Germany's most important electronic act--was from Dusseldorf.)
I don't know if that sets us up, but early press releases for The Amazing Race did say the teams will retrace the Beatles' early days and will drink a lot of beer... I think that's enough.
(Image courtesy of Hamburg.de)