Tag Archives: food

What Germans think we eat…

I was out in Neuss today, when I noticed a sign outside Lidl advertising their upcoming British food week.

Now, aside from my incredulity that Germans would be flocking to the supermarket to stock up on English fare, I have to admit that I was curious as to what Lidl would have selected as “British specialities”. The whole array was illustrated on a tartan tablecloth, so I supected there might be a Scottish theme – but apart from the shortbread, I can’t say I spotted one.

So, without further ado… I shall reveal the selection!

Germany British food

What Germans think we eat…

Starting at top left, we have a ready meal of fish and chips. Alaska pollack pieces though, rather than North Sea Cod.  The chips claim to be extra fat… but there is no mention of mushy peas or malt vinegar on the box, so authentic it won’t be.

Next up – three flavours of crisps. Confusingly these are referred to as Chips – but these are different chips to the ones you get with your battered pollack pieces.  The flavours are sea salt and balsemic vinegar, lightly salted and sea salt and black pepper.  Oh dear oh dear. I don’t think any Brits would be rushing to buy those then! No malt vinegar, no cheese and onion, no prawn cocktail or smokey bacon or worcestershire sauce… not even any hedgehog or tandoori….

The luxury caramel shortcakes look nice. I think my Mum used to make those once in a blue moon.  But moving across, even I have to admit defeat at the tea selection.  The first one is called English Tea Time. The second is called 8 O’Clock Tea and the third is 5 O’Clock Tea.  Now, I suspect just a hint of Germanism creeping into these brand names. I’m familiar with English Breakfast Tea… but only a German could be so precise as to dictate that it should be drunk at exactly 8 a.m.  The same with the afternoon tea. Last time I looked, afternoon tea could perfectly well be taken any time from around 3 in the afternoon up to about half past six. Only a German would define tea time quite so rigidly. I’m thinking that the only option is to buy the one called English Tea Time… which by definition is any time you want a cuppa.

Across from the tea is some cheddar cheese. What a shame that for British week they picked the only type of English cheese regularly available in Germany anyway. Surely it would have been more interesting to have picked a crumbly Lancashire or a mature Wensleydale…

Next to the cheese is a tin of baked beans (not exactly Heinz, but at least I’ll grant them that it’s authentically part of the British diet).  There are also what look like fake After Eight Mints…  (though here the Germans are remarkably silent on the appropriate hour to eat these).

But I do confess to being very confused by the final items – which are three flavours of Joghurt British Style.  At first glance these seem to be no different to anyone else’s fruit yoghurts…. but maybe I’m missing something here. What on earth is a British Style Yoghurt? Anyone?

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Filed under food, Life in Germany, shopping in Germany

Rhineland Tapas…

We were out the other night in a local pub, and I noticed an intriguing menu suggestion on the blackboard. Rheinische Tapas… or Tapas from the Rhineland.

Of course it just had to be tried!

So here is what it looks like…

Rheinische Tapas

Meine Damen und Herren… carpaccio of Blutwurst (black pudding) with a mist of chopped onion…. raw pork…. salted herring and beetroot puree… with a side of chopped raw onions… snipped raw spring onions…  bruchetta of chopped Blutwurst and raw onion with radishes… fried onions… and toasted baguette… mustard was optional. Altbier (local dark beer) was not optional… it was most definitely a Pflicht (duty)…

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Filed under About Germany, food, Life in Germany

Civic vegetables

These days I rarely catch sight of an English menu in a German restaurant. We’ve been living here so long, that the waiter normally doesn’t spot us as foreigners – at least until we’re actually ready to order.

But this weekend, we had visitors from England, so when the waiter offered an English language menu we were happy to accept.

This was when the problems started.

“What’s a civic vegetable?” Asked Christine.

“A what?”  I wondered whether our local town hall had started growing cabbages in its municipal flowerbeds.

“It says Civic Vegetable. You can have it with a sausage or a pork chop apparently. But what it it? Some sort of urban carrot?”

As ever with strange translations, I had to work this one out by translating backwards. Eventually I came to the conclusion that they meant something like “gutbürgerlich” … so plain, hearty fare. Probably Grünkohl (curly kale).

And so it turned out. The civic vegetable was a kale and potato hotpot and the “fried pork chop” was actually Kassler… so actually gammon steak.

I think I’ll stick with the German menu next time…  restaurant English is far too tricky!

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Filed under About Germany, food, German language, Life in Germany

Fish and chips at the fairground

I already mentioned that Whitsun in Meerbusch is not complete without a trip to the fair.

Apart from all the rides, it’s fun to browse the wonderfully kitschy stalls, with their strange array of things to eat…. popcorn, candy floss, toffee apples, lebkuchen-hearts…

Of course there’s one stall which we Brits always make a beeline for. The Backfischbude. This is the one place and time when you can get proper English-style Fish ‘n’ Chips in Germany.

The only secret the the Germans haven’t discovered about Fish ‘n’ Chips (nobody breathe a word, OK) is you need to add proper malt vinegar. This is impossible to find in German supermarkets. We import it ourselves from Britain.

So on Saturday, we went along for our Fish ‘n’ Chips with a secret stash of our precious malt vinegar carefully decanted into a miniature whisky bottle.

As we sat down to enjoy the feast, we did get some odd looks from Germans as we all appeared to pour a generous measure of Scotch onto our fish… in fact I could almost hear the clunk of jaws dropping when not only we adults but also our children followed suit.

Finally, I have to share with you this couple of slot machines I found lurking over near the dodgems. They don’t make ’em like that any more!

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Filed under food, German festivals, Life in Germany

Summer has arrived!

For months we’ve all been dreaming about it… even our neo-nazi-lookalike cat has spent a long Winter of the soul waiting for the Summer to arrive again.

Well now it’s here (even if only temporarily) … and our entire family life has moved outside. Not just the tables and chairs… but also the washing, bicycles, the grill and all the trappings of a large and disorganised, highly un-Germanic family. It’s just as well that we can live in the open air really. My chronic inability to get on with the gardening means that the house is disappearing under wisteria, ivy, honeysuckle and a lunatic grapevine. In another month we probably won’t know there’s a building there at all, and we’ll have to sleep in the farmyard too.

When the weather is lovely like this, one of the great joys is grilling every evening. The Germans plough their way through kilos of sausages and steaks at this time of the year. But I’m enjoying learning how to make all sorts of grilled vegetables at the moment. Last week I acquired a sort of mesh-pan which makes it a lot easier because you can turn them by giving the pan a good shake. Drizzled with a basil, olive oil, garlic and lemon dressing they’re wonderful.

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Filed under cats, Life in Germany