Recently, a friend I used to work with in Kentucky wrote me asking for my thoughts about living abroad. Since I've responded to him, I've been thinking quite hard about the differences between living here in Germany versus the United States, and thought I'd share a few for those who might be considering a big move or simply are curious. Since there are quite a few, I'll split this into a series of "Living in Germany" posts, starting with food. Below are some of my observations/perceptions after living here for 7 years.
- Typical German breakfast includes breads, cheeses, and meats. Basically a
sandwich first thing in the morning with a cup of very strong coffee. For kids, tea. Cooper gets lots of tea at his Kindergarten and at first he was coming home so thirsty because he hated it, but after a short while, he began drinking it and now loves tea.
- Lunch is usually a warm, large meal. At school, a local meztergeri (butcher) delivers the food each day to the kids. Sundays are days where the whole extended family tends to eat lunch together, and then head outside for a nice walk.
- Eating out in Germany is a very long affair. Do not expect to sit, order and pay in under an
hour. If you go to a restaurant that is reserved when you get there, it is reserved for the night. I've never seen a waiting list the entire time we've lived here. Typical restaurants you'll find in any German town include Italian (with a wood fire oven), Greek, German, and Turkish small Gyro establishments.
- German restaurants have mostly pork and beef, cabbage, and potatoes on the menu. Hardly any chicken options, and not too many vegetarian options. Though salads here area full of really good greens (not ice berg) typically, and have pickled vegetables like carrots and kohlrabi. Beer is honestly priced the same if not cheaper than water, juice or soda, and you see many more people opting for beer or just water over here.
- Germany, has much stricter laws for chemicals, GMOs, and other dangerous
issues relating to food. They simply don't allow them into the country. Organic
food is mainstream and can be found in every grocery store, even out here in a
tiny town of 6000. Even beer is not pasteurized and just tastes simply better over here.
- Farmers Markets are huge over here. Way more of them than in the states,
and way easier to buy food from local farmers than I found it to be in the US.
- Eggs are brown and fresh. The yolks are a rich yellow
and come from local farmers in all the stores near us.You find them on the shelves with milk, which took some getting used to. The milk is radiated and stays on the shelf until opened. Then you refrigerate it. Grocery stores in general are much smaller, with less processed food choices and cute little carts for your kids to use.
- Franchises are hard to come by, as is fast food. There are McDonalds and
Burgers Kings in big cities as well as on the highway, but not near as many as
the states. Plus, they just aren't the same as American establishments. They offer caprese (tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella) in Italy, they offer special National French beef in France, and over here in Germany, you can get organic milk/apples and juice for your kids, or beer with your combo meal.
- Every town has its own bakery and butcher, usually a handful actually,
where you buy fresh food daily versus stocking up for the week. Fridges are about half the size as American counterparts, so you can't really keep near as much food stocked up either. Oh, and the grocery stores don't carry medicines/vitamins etc, you have to go to an Apotheke (pharmacy) for that in Germany.
Well, that at least provides a summary of the big differences with food over here. I'll move on to other areas of life for the next post in the Series. If there is something particular you're interesting in hearing about, ask away.