This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve got to say it.
Disneyland is not the happiest place on Earth.
Oh, no. Not even close
The happiest place on Earth is any bar, brewery, or beer hall where there is live polka. Where revelers are clad in lederhosen, hoisting their glasses in the air - shouts of “Prost!” all around.
Because, here’s the thing – it’s impossible to be unhappy when polka is playing.
Just ask the woman I saw at work last night. She came in with the sourest look on her face – all pinched and pouting, looking annoyingly aggravated. But then. Then! Tuba Dan started to play.
The rhythmic “bump, bump, bump,” of his song circled the room. It came up through the floor, vibrating the old wooden boards. It moved into toes, knees, and legs, impossibly infectious. Customers swayed on their barstools, following the rhythm, singing the lyrics they’d known for years. These songs are well-known, well-loved; a staple at every church picnic, Oktoberfest, and wedding reception from here to Waupaca.
I watched this woman – this angry woman – watched her shift from one foot to the other, her eyes scanning the menu. I watched her face soften, her head move back and forth. I watched her lips spread into a smile, her shoulders bounce up and down. She ordered her beer, sat down and enjoyed the end of the song.
“…Roll out the barrel, for the gang’s all here!”
And the gang was all there. There were customers and friends and family. People who got brave and got up – taking the mic and singing the lyrics. Kids dancing in a small circle at the front of the room. Steins lifted and lowered, filled and emptied and filled again.
There were no rides, no cartoon mice, no castles fit for a princess. But, there was music and friends and brats made with beer. And, for the umpteenth time in the year that I’ve been home, I was grateful to be here, be back, be home. Because, for me, this truly is the happiest place on Earth.
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
¼ cup brown mustard seeds
¼ cup Oktoberfest beer of choice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard seeds, and beer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, put the mustard seeds in a large mortar and pestle with the sugar and salt. Grind until desired consistency is reached. (I like a really thick mustard, stone ground and gritty.)
Store in an airtight container for 1 – 2 days, until desired level of spiciness is reached before refrigerating for up to three months.
Serve mustard with fresh baked pretzels, if desired.
*recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook