Due to a job promotion last year, my husband and I (and our dog) moved from the USA to Germany. We settled next to the city of Stuttgart where my husband's employer is based. Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany.
I was nervous about so many things prior to our move and wondered: will we adjust to the German culture? Will we communicate well enough in German? Will we like the food?
Okay, so I used to think Germans ate mostly pretzels and bratwurst! Along with a beer to drink.
They do love all those things, but in truth there is so much more to German cuisine than I had ever imagined. In fact, one of my biggest surprises living here is just how good certain dishes are. I have also learned that different regions will influence what you eat. So here in the southern part of Germany, also known as Swabia, there are certain food preferences. Let me share a typical day for you starting with breakfast.
The traditional breakfast in southern Germany is a large meal and usually consists of cold cut meats and cheeses. Coffee is an absolute must during breakfast, usually a dark coffee or perhaps a cappuccino.
The meats are typically some kind of ham that varies in color and taste. Some look and taste better than others in my opinion. Cheese is a big part of the German diet, especially mountain cheese. These are various hard cheeses that come from the Alps Mountain region that covers parts of Germany and other European countries.
Alternatively, a bowl of museli is quite popular. This is what Germans refer to when they say oatmeal.
I will often choose museli for breakfast. Compared to what I am used to, this oatmeal is thinner and more watery, but it is still very nutritious with fresh fruit on top.
Lunch is considered the hot main meal of the day. Many Germans will eat lunch at their office depending on where they work.
The typical lunch options at my office are schnitzel (thin, breaded and fried pork) served with fries, or fish and potatoes, or wurst (sausage) and spätzle (like a German noodle) or currywurst (a brat with curry sauce). I definitely love a good brat or schnitzel. I especially love schnitzel made of veal, it is so tender and delicious! But veal is more expensive here than pork or chicken, so it is usually reserved for holiday meals or other special occasions.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the 3 PM coffee break. If you are at work, you will take a break with your office mates to drink some coffee. If you are at home, you will meet a friend over a cup. Coffee rules everything in Germany!
It is standard for Germans to take 45 minutes for their lunch break so that they can take a 15 minute break at 3 PM.
The final meal of the day is typically small. Sometimes it is only bread.
The Germans have a name for this, Abend Brot, or night bread. This never happens in my house, but it definitely happens. Dinner is considered a time to sit together with family but not over a big heavy meal. Dinner can be a salad or what is left over from lunch. Potato salad is usually a side dish or served underneath other salads at restaurants. Dinner might simply be a bowl of soup, everyone loves soup here.
Of course I must also mention German beer. Beer is a staple for Germans at dinner time. By law all domestic beer must be made the same way, a pilsner type of beer. Southern Germans buy their beer by the crate (about 24 glass bottles) and then when finished will return the crate with the empty bottles back to the grocery store for recycling and for the deposit refund. This is part of Germany's Pfand system. My husband has readily adopted such customs.
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