Things I find interesting about Germany

Since I got so much positive feedback on my last post, I’m motivated to write some more. 1

Living in another country is filled with surprises and this is one of the main reasons we chose to come here. This post is just a listing of some of the things I’ve come across that are surprising to me. Most of it is little more than dinner party trivia.

All of the photos on my blog are clickable for larger versions.

Food related

In Germany, and most of the rest of the world, eggs don’t need to be refrigerated. How is this safe?

  • Eggs aren’t washed, which would remove their natural protective layer
  • Hens are vaccinated against Salmonella. 2
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Here’s where we store ours

Many people I know in the US love to eat raw fish (AKA sushi). Some like to eat raw beef, either in the form of a rare steak or perhaps in the form of carpaccio

Germans (and some other countries)…. we eat raw pork. Here it’s called Mett

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Doubly un-kosher and un-halal. Turns out there are a bunch of other ways meat is eaten raw

Germans are known for their sauerkraut. When eating sausages in the northeastern US, folks refer to it as “Kraut”. I wonder if those same people would find a glass of sauerkraut juice to be equally appetizing? Rote Bete means “red beets”

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Red beet juice and sauerkraut juice

Pork and sauerkraut are definitely yummy together.

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Ham hocks go well with sauerkraut

Smoking

In the US, smoking is something to be embarrassed about. Not so much here. Even though the tobacco industry is getting squeezed as much or more than in the US, many smokers don’t hesitate to smoke in public. About a week after we arrived here, we had an example of this. We were in a tunnel that connects between streetcar terminals waiting for the elevator. A dude lit up about 10 feet from us. “Us” included Lydia and Malcolm who are clearly little kids. In the US, I think a smoker would have walked another 20 or 30 feet away.

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Marlboro ad
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Cigarettes can be purchased from a vending machine. You do have to prove age by swiping some sort of id.

The anti-smoking campaign is a bit more serious here, though I wonder how much of an affect it has.

The text says: “smoking can be deadly”
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“smoking damages your lungs”
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Smoking is a cause of heart attacks and cancer
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Smoking clogs your ateries

Alcohol

Germany is known for beer. Some trivia from this site

  • At 11.4 billion liters, Germany produces 26.4% of European beer.
  • Germans drink most of that (10.7 billion liters)
  • That’s 131 liters per person per year.  Three American 12oz’ers in one liter means about one beer per day across the population.
  • 60% of that is Pilseners. 3
  • Another 12% is “export”, but honestly, I don’t think it tastes much different.

I remember hearing a story from a German friend that when he was in the German army that soldiers from the Bavarian state were often allowed to have a beer with lunch since it’s considered a cultural thing.

I probably drink one or two .5l bottles on most days, so I’m doing my share.

Having said that, I think the varieties of beer available in Portland are more interesting. Note the statistics above. I do think it’s cool that you can go to a restaurant and order “a beer” without follow up. Imagine ordering “coffee” in the US.

Beer is cheap here and there are lots choices within the handful of beer types. For a case of 20 half liter bottles, you will generally pay 10-14 euros. ($11-$15.5). A friend’s mom, who’s on a fixed income, drinks beer that can be had for 4-5 euros a case. I tried one of hers and it was fine. I’d buy it myself, but they don’t sell it in my neighborhood. 4

Speaking of my friend’s mom, reminds me of something that happened with my grandmother. I was a skinny 16 year old and we had just gone shopping. A case of beer has some heft to it; it’s easy to share the load and carry it between two people. The distance from the car to our front door was a good ways and while she clearly didn’t have any trouble carrying the load, my arm was getting pretty tired.

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One of the two local drink shops
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cheapest beer I’ve found
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even the shopping carts are beer-friendly

What is missing here is the porters, IPAs, Pales, and such. If they are sold, they’re tucked into a corner somewhere.

Never too early to begin educating
Never too early to begin educating

As you can see from the pics, Germans are pretty relaxed about alcohol. A much healthier attitude, I think.

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liquor sold by checkout

In the US, when going to a carnival, street faire, or other public event, all drinks are segregated to a separate area. Here, it’s mixed with all the other activities. I don’t have pictures, but we went to a wine fest 5 and there were lots of kids around. In Portland’s many brewfests, you basically shouldn’t bring your kids. Drinks here are served is glasses made of glass 6

You can buy tequila on Amazon

BTW, you can buy Bud here too

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Not a lot of health food

In my area, there’s one store that could be labeled as a health food store, but it’s not the type of place anyone would go for their normal shopping. We haven’t found an equivalent of Whole Foods or New Seasons. There is a small “farmers market”. Why do I put it in quotes? Here’s a photo of the main veggie stand. It sells bananas. Even the southern European countries don’t grow them. In fairness, I’ve only been to this one once and I need to ask the merchants to see where it all comes from. There’s a guy who sell honey from his own hives. I want to ask him about it so I better manage the three hives we have at our Portland home.160804-IMG_20160804_101205810

Candy

Germans have a sweet tooth. When you go to someone’s house, you pretty likely to find some sort of candy on the coffee table. 7 Here are some photos of the sweet stuff section of the local real_markt_logo. This chain store is similar to Walmart of Fred Meyer.

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The sweet part of the baking section
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Gummy bears and chewing gum
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gum drops and Dickmans
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MMs on the left and right
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Toffees and chocolate bars

Five aisles of sweet stuff!

Dickmans

A note on one of the pictures above, which contains the marshmallow’eque Negerkuss. Neger is sort of the German equivalent of the N-word. A very toned down version. When I was a little kid here, it was used in the same way that “negro” was used in the US. Not quite nasty, but often not so nice. In any case, kids love to eat them some Negerkusse. A friend of mine tells me that he used to make sandwich with them. The word’s not used anymore, but the schokokuss lives on.

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Love that BBQ

Germans like to BBQ. More sausages and not as much hamburgers than in the US. Mostly, I’m including this section for the pictures.

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Grocery Carts

As a kid in Los Angeles, I remember there where a couple pickups that would drive around the neighborhood collecting grocery carts. For many people, the shopping cart was the most convenient way to bring home groceries. Today that’s not possible, since the wheels will lock up on you once you leave the premises.

Here this “problem” has been solved since I was a little kid. To use a cart, you have to put a coin in the cart handle. Easier to explain with a picture.

160806-IMG_20160806_142406407I’ve once seen a family here using a cart to get their stuff home. I can’t say whether they returned it. It does remind me of something I experienced in Israel. When I lived there (4/98-12/00) it was still common not to have car. To compensate for this, grocery stores had a service that if you bought more than some amount of food, they’d deliver it to you for free. The threshold wasn’t very high; maybe NIS200/$50. My girlfriend at the time utilized this even though she did have a car. It was nice to have someone bring it to the door.

Well, there’re other differences I’ve noticed, but I want to finally get this post out of my drafts area. Hope you enjoyed.

 


  1. I actually did start on this one right after that post but life can be busy when you’re not working.

  2. I believe that many US chicken farmers also do this.

  3. think Sella Artois or Pilsner Urquell. Note that this type of beer is named after the Pilsner region, which is in Czech Republic

  4. we don’t have a car

  5. Germany has many vineyards, especially along the rivers.

  6. you pay a 2 euro deposit. It’s a good way to get some decent glasses

  7. perhaps it should be called a candy and chips table

3 thoughts on “Things I find interesting about Germany”

  1. Hi Miles! I loved this; great information. The anti-smoking advertisement on the packages of cigarettes are no joke. I’m not a smoker. I wonder if Germany has a lower percentage of kids that smoke because of the aggressive advertisements on the cartons. I want to say it should deter people from wanting to buy cigarettes, but you never know. I love sauerkraut, but I must confess I have never thought to myself “I sure could go for some ice cold sauerkraut juice”. I hope you and your family are well (looks like everything is great). Looking forward to your next post!!!!

  2. Great post, Miles! It brought up memories of a number of trips to Germany. I especially enjoyed the idea that Bavarian soldiers are allowed a beer with lunch as a nod to their culture. Maybe I have some Bavarian blood in me…

  3. Wow Miles, great information. It’s really nice post to get to know a little more of Germany. I bet you and Robie are missing your veggies huh. The warning pictures on the cigarette are no joke. Very graphic. Bring some dickmans back when you visit. Saving your blog on my faves. Love you.

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