Category Archives: Germany

My comments on all things Teutonic.

The Top 10 Weirdest German Foods I Have Learned to Love

When you think of German food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Lots of meat? Sausage? Bread? Sauerkraut? (Endless fields of pig bodies to satisfy Germany’s disturbing and straight up demonic appetite for all things swine?) Before moving to Germany, I thought of these things too, because I had no idea just how weird and diverse German food really is — or that I would someday learn to love the nightmarish display of grotesqueries at the grocery store.

What follows is a list of the 10 weirdest foods I have learned to love as an American expat living in Germany:

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1.) Zungenwurst
Also known as Blood Tongue, this little childhood trauma is made from pig’s blood, tongue, fat and sometimes oatmeal or breadcrumbs. (They probably throw a live piglet in there too, just to keep things cute.) The first time I tried Zungenwurst, I hacked it back up into my napkin and told my wife I could taste the screams. The blood was so potent it was like sucking on a mouthful of pennies. But I kept at it! I tried it again a few weeks later, and again at my in-laws place, until one day I kinda liked it. Then I really liked it, and now I’m the one who buys this awful shit at the grocery store.

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2.) Weltmeister-Brötchen
These guys are made out of wheat and rye flour, and for some reason enjoy calling themselves the “World Champion Bread Roll.” Pretty cocky, if you ask me. But look at all those seeds! There’s enough to choke a pigeon. I bet if you buried one of these rolls in the dirt, an entire forest would spring to life. Anyway, as an American, I was really only familiar with white and whole wheat bread, so these dense bricks of heartiness were entirely new to me. I took to them pretty quickly, however, because my wife said all the seeds would be good for my pooper. (And if you know me, you know I’ll eat anything if it increases the armor class of my anus.)

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3.) Speck
Speck, or ‘lardo,’ is just straight up pig fat. Sometimes it’s served with a thin layer of meat, but that’s just cosmetic; make no mistake, you’re putting pure fat into your mouth, and Germans lack the common decency to be ashamed of it. I took quite a while to shake hands with Speck — and I still look at it a little sideways — but it’s pretty good. You gotta heat it up, of course, and I learned the hard way not to eat it straight: put it on some bread or it’ll give you a phenomenal stomach ache. Kind of like you ate a big wax candle.

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4.) Grünkohl
Grünkohl is green cabbage or kale, and Germans eat it mostly in wintertime. I actually think it’s kind of gross, but when you throw it on top of a steaming pile of sausage and potatoes, well, you’ve got yourself a party! I first experienced Grünkohl after a Grünkohlwanderung (Green Cabbage Walk), during which my wife and I — plus a huge group of Germans — walked through a snowy forest in celebration of a friend’s birthday. We drank the entire time and played humiliating team games, and when it was all over, we sat down to a huge meal of this green nightmare cabbage. It was awesome.

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5.) Wiener-Würstchen
Check it out! Hot dogs in a jar, yo! Oh, I knew I would love these sumbitches right from the start. Just like American hot dogs, they’re made entirely of asses and eyeballs. They’ve got that salty twang we love so much, plus a satisfying pop when your teeth burst through the outer skin. Okay, so they sound completely disgusting, but trust me on this one: Wiener-Würstchen rule. Just don’t get any bright ideas about drinking the water in which they’re contained — it is pure, liquid sodium. And by sodium, I mean it tastes like Poseidon’s saltwater piss.

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6.) Griebenschmalz
So this stuff is just spreadable pig fat. There are chunks of fried pork rind in it, plus herbs and salt to really give your body the old middle finger. They even sell versions with apple and onion pieces, because Germans are completely out of their minds. It took me quite a while to embrace this stuff, but now I love it. Hell, I eat more Griebenschmalz than my wife does, because, although she doesn’t know it yet, we are locked in a competitive race to the grave. “Good luck paying off the mortgage after I’m gone, honey!”

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7.) Prosciutto
Alright, so this is Italian food, and pretty much every American has tried it, but I never really ate much prosciutto until I moved to Germany. Now I buy it every week, and my wife loves it even more than I do. I mean, who doesn’t like cured meat? It rules. The thing is, my wife and I have a rough history with prosciutto; we’re about 100% certain it’s to blame for the heroic case of food poisoning we experienced in New York, so it took both of us a while to trust it again. The other issue is, every once in a while, we’ll get a batch of prosciutto which tastes really gamey. Like a big, pink pig is sitting right on your face. *Shudder* You know what? I’m not even sure why I keep buying it anymore.

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8.) Schinkenmettwurst
These things look like harmless peperoni sticks, right? That’s what I thought too, until I was so hungry I bought one in a panic at a train station and discovered they’re basically just tubes of raw meat. They’re cured, of course, but then they’re finely ground so they have the mouthfeel of earthworms. From that first bite, I kind of wanted to throw my Schinkenmettwurst across the train station and then stomp on it until arrested — but I also wanted to keep eating it. It was the oddest sensation. Like good and evil in the same mouthful. Now I know what to expect, so I can eat one of these things and be comfortable with the fact that it tastes great but also gives me the dry heaves.

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9.) Sülze
Have you ever heard of head cheese? That’s what this is. Normally I buy it sliced, but they also sell it in these revolting jars. Basically, Sülze is meat from the head of a cow or pig — sometimes including the tongue, feet or heart — which has been set in gelatin. Like a murder victim on display in a shop window. Is it just me, or does German food seem unsatisfied with merely killing an animal, but must go a step further and mock it as well? Jesus Christ.

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10.) Schinken-Teewurst
Schinken-Teewurst is spreadable, raw sausage. Again, it’s cured, but that does nothing to inhibit your gag reflex. I downright hated this shit the first time I tried it. But as a blindly tenacious American, I kept trying. I learned to like that it is roughly 40% fat and smacks of pickled hot dogs. I even ignored the stomach ache it gave me whenever I tried to eat it straight. Like most German foods in the grocery store, I have no idea why I like it. I just do. Maybe I love pork. Maybe I hate pigs. It doesn’t matter; now that I live in Germany, my entire diet consists of German food, so I will probably die with a cloven hoof in my mouth and a load of cabbage in my undies.

If you liked this post, there’s a solid chance you’ll dig this one too: 10 Easy Steps to Become the Worst God Damned German Language Teacher on the Planet


 

False Friends: 15 Examples How the German Language Is Trying to Kill You

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“Oh yeah, those are the exact same thing.” — Photo Credit: Kirby Kerr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rotofugi/) — Subject to CC 2.0 license. (Hue and contrast edited.)

False friends are pairs of words in two languages which look or sound identical, but are wildly different in meaning. The false friends between German and English are hilarious, and in some cases, lethal.

What follows is a list of 15 German nouns and their incredibly different translations in English:

  1. Das Gift
    In America, we know exactly what gifts are: Nicely wrapped boxes full of goods made in poor countries. In German, however, das Gift means poison. Straight up, rat-killing, slug-shrinking poison. If you want to say gift in German, you have to say das Geschenk — and I agree; the German version sounds more like a tool used to stab someone in prison.
  2. Der Rat
    Rats — those filthy little rodents which helped spread bubonic plague throughout Europe in the Middle Ages — now kept primarily as pets by high school nerds with Cheeto fingers. Unfortunately, der Rat means advice or counsel in German. Actually, that’s kind of perfect; lots of government branches in Germany are named using this root word, like der Bundesrat (federal council), which is just full of rats…
  3. Der Stapler
    Remember Milton from Office Space, with his bright red Swingline stapler? Well, before you go burning your workplace to the ground over one of these things, remember, in German der Stapler means forklift or stacker truck, so if your boss screams, “Achtung! Stapler!” don’t just stand there laughing — fucking run.
  4. Der Quark
    If you’re a huge nerd like me, the word quark immediately makes you think of the Ferengi bar owner from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (Who, by the way, was the best character on the show — I will fight you over this.) If you’re a smarter nerd than me, quark makes you think of the elementary particles which combine to form things like protons and neutrons. Anyway, in German, der Quark means cheese curd, and it tastes like really thin yogurt with all of the fun and joy removed.
  5. Der Hang
    Depending upon my mood, the word hang will either remind me of hanging out — like I did in the mid-’90s — or the verb to hang, like from a noose. (Generally it’s the latter, because gallows humor is the only thing which alleviates my crippling preoccupation with death.) In German, however, der Hang means a slope or inclination. Isn’t that boring? I would so much rather think about death by hanging and the hilarious boner it gives you.
  6. Der Mist
    Picture it: A beautiful meadow just as the sun is coming up. The air is crisp and cold. Red and yellow leaves are scattered across the grass. A gentle mist is drifting from the trees, moving across the ground and tickling your toes. It’s a beautiful day to be alive. No. Just, no. Der Mist means dung or manure.
  7. Der Pickel
    Pickles are awesome, right? They’re delicious — all bumpy and green — and you can wiggle them in front of your genitals like a Martian dick. But that’s not what the word means in German. Der Pickel is a zit or pimple, which, if you think about it, is way more revolting than my freakishly green weenie. “Kiss the tip!”
  8. Der Smoking
    Sounds like it has something to do with cigarettes, right? Maybe cigars or pipes? Something that really gives cancer the old middle finger. That’s what I thought, until I discovered der Smoking actually means tuxedo. Not even close! And now that I know what it means, I can’t stop picturing James Bond in a tuxedo smoking a cigarette. Just stinkin’ his tailored suit up real good, like a true asshole.
  9. Die Robe
    As an American, the word robe brings to my mind a soft garment worn immediately after a shower. There are fancy robes, like the ones Hugh Hefner wears, and shitty robes, like the ones your dad used to wear — you know, the thin, faded kind, which would, without fail, give you an eye full of his cock and balls every time he sat down on the couch. *Shudder.* Thankfully, in German, die Robe is an evening gown, and that is a mental image which does not make my right eyelid twitch.
  10. Die Lust
    Oh, this one’s gotta be good, right? Probably something naughty. Shunned or illegal, at the very least. Nope. Die Lust means interest or inclination. Isn’t that just lame as hell? On the plus side, in German, you can walk up to a woman and literally ask if she has any ‘lust’ to go out with you. That’s pretty hardcore. Might as well ask if she’s lubed up and ready to make a porno.
  11. Die Nutte
    Sounds like nuts or Nutella to me, so frankly I like where this word is headed already. Unfortunately, die Nutte means hooker or prostitute in German. Can you imagine asking your waiter or waitress for some extra Nutella, only you totally blow it with your American accent? Nothing like a totally unexpected insult to ruin someone’s double shift: “Excuse me. May I please have some more of this delicious hazelnut spread, you filthy whore?”
  12. Der Puff
    I get it, innocent stuff, like “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” cream puffs, and Puff Daddy — or whatever the hell he called himself before he turned into a beautiful butterfly. No, der Puff isn’t innocent at all; it’s a whorehouse or brothel. This one is so misleading, it’s like sitting down to watch an animated movie with your kids, only to discover you’ve brought home some hardcore hentai, complete with throbbing tentacle dicks and helpless girls who never fail to show you their undies.
  13. Der Tripper
    Sounds like Jack Tripper from Three’s Company to me! This word is sure to result in comic high jinks after a simple mix-up forces a hapless bachelor to inexplicably trip over every god damned thing in the apartment. No Sir! In German, der Tripper is gonorrhea or “the clap.” Man, what I wouldn’t pay to see John Ritter alive again, screaming as he falls down the stairs, “Mother of God, it burns when I peeeeeeeeeeee…!”
  14. Die Parole
    This is what happens after you get out of prison, right? Where you prove you’re ready to reenter the population by having absolutely no fun at all? In Germany, die Parole actually means password or slogan, so if you want to talk about being released from prison, you have to say, die Bewährung. (Great. Now I can’t stop thinking about how many of our devoted readers might be ex-convicts…)
  15. Der After
    Yeah, I get it. After. But after what? Well, after my puckering butthole, that’s what. Seriously. In German, der After means anus. Isn’t that awesome? I can’t wait to go back to the gym tomorrow, hit the showers and show everyone what comes after my butt cheeks. “Run, hobbits! The Eye of Sauron is upon you!”

If you would like to read another post about my experiences learning the German language, check out this one: The Absolute Best (and Weirdest) German Integration Class I Ever Had