Tag Archives: Food

Fish Allergy Facts: Why I Can Eat Tuna Without Dying (According to My German Wife, Who Is Not a Doctor)

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“Filthy, slimy, angels of the sea.” — Image Credit: TheAnimalDay.org (https://www.flickr.com/photos/theanimalday/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I was born with a pretty wicked allergy to fish. My parents first discovered it at Disneyland when I was just a little kid; we were tossing chunks of fish to the dolphins and the juices ran down my hands and arms, causing redness and swelling, which earned me a hasty trip to the emergency room. “Oooh, look Mom! Flashing red lights and a siren! This is WAY better than Pirates of the Caribbean!”

Since then I’ve avoided fish as if my life depended on it, because… it kinda does. Salmon, halibut, cod, catfish, herring, anchovies, trout… all of them cause a rapid allergic reaction when they touch my skin — especially my lips or the inside of my mouth. And the sensation is truly unpleasant, like swelling, throbbing, burning, itching and aching all wrapped up into one perfect pain. Like it was designed specifically by God himself to punish me for being a naughty 8-year-old boy who should have known better than to burn all those tiny little ants with a magnifying glass.

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“… so that you may know the anguish you have inflicted.” — Image Credit: Kate Brady (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cliche/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

But the real danger would be if I ever ingested enough fish to cause my entire body to freak out and my windpipe to swell shut. That’s called anaphylaxis, and I don’t know about you, but I think it sounds like just a barrel of laughs. Luckily, I could never really consume enough to cause such a reaction unless I decided to chug a glass of fish juice or swallow a fistful of fish oil capsules. And that wouldn’t be an accident at all; that would be suicide.

Oh sure, I’ve flirted with fish a few times over the years. You know, just to see if I was still allergic. Like, at a friend’s house, I once touched half a fish stick to my lip only to spend the remainder of the evening looking like a 5th grader with the world’s most aggressive case of oral herpes. And then one time, during a work meeting in the mid-2000s, my entire office went out to lunch at a Japanese restaurant. We all ordered miso soup, and I’d never had a problem with it in the past, but this time it was made with real fish broth. It tasted so good I drank that shit right from the bowl, and about one minute later, my upper lip swelled up and stuck out so far I looked like a Simpsons character.

Planked Alaskan salmon and asparagus

“Planked Alaskan succubus with asparagus.” — Image Credit: Jessica Spengler (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

To this day, I really don’t know what fish even tastes like — especially salmon. That stuff looks delicious, but it’s supposed to cause the most intense reaction of them all, so I leave that sexy bitch alone. The one kind of fish I can eat, however, is tuna.

I was about 25 years old when I discovered tuna didn’t mess with me. It happened by accident: One day, I thought I was holding a chicken salad sandwich, but when I bit down, it turned out to be tuna fish, and oh… my… CHRIST was it delicious! That weirdo tuna meat all mixed up with relish and mayonnaise? I was in heaven! It was like discovering a whole new set of taste buds! Crazy taste buds — and they were having a freaky bondage sex party right inside my mouth! And later I discovered I can even eat raw tuna, like at a sushi restaurant! (But if it bumps up against my wife’s sashimi salmon, the party’s over and I’m headed straight back to Fucksville.)

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“You beautiful creature… where have you been all my life? Oh. Literally RIGHT in front of my eyes.” — Image Credit: thebittenword.com (https://www.flickr.com/photos/galant/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

So I’ve been a pretty zealous tuna lover ever since. Wouldn’t you be, after avoiding a delicious type of food over two thirds of your life? Now, I make sure and buy at least three cans of tuna every time I go to the grocery store. It makes an awesome snack, especially if I’m in a hurry. That’s why, the other day when I sat down next to my German wife on the couch to start a movie, I confessed to her I’d just eaten an entire can in like 30 seconds. She laughed and said it’s weird that I can eat tuna but no other fish. Then she went on to speculate as to the reason, saying:

“Maybe tuna is not really a fish. Maybe it’s a water chicken.”

 


 

Dr. Tomatolove or: How I Learned to Stop Loathing and Love the Tomato

I hate tomatoes - flipping the bird, middle finger

“You know what sucks about you guys? EVERYTHING.”

I have hated tomatoes as long as I can remember. Even as a child I cursed the name of that imp from hell who decided tomatoes should go on everything: cheeseburgers, salads, sandwiches, pizza — all ruined by this filthy vegetable. If a tomato touched one leaf of my salad, I didn’t just disregard that particular leaf, I jettisoned the entire quadrant. If there was only one pizza to be eaten, and every single piece had a slice of tomato on it, I would grab one and use my napkin to wipe that mother down until the crust showed. In college I tried to eat a cherry tomato at a party and wound up dry heaving in front of a bunch of hot chicks. Hell, even at 2am — drunk as tits and baked like a cake — I would still pick the tomato chunks out of my Taco Bell. I haaaaaaaaaated tomatoes. HATED THEM.

It’s wasn’t just the taste, and it’s wasn’t just the texture; it was the one-two punch of taste and texture. I mean, tapioca pudding has about the same mouthfeel as fish eggs and glue, but it tastes awesome. And Brussels sprouts taste like straight up poison, but they feel like baby cabbages dying inside your mouth, so they’re kinda fun. No, tomatoes ruined my day in every way they possibly could; by tasting like bloody, organic battery acid with the texture of jellied eyeballs wrapped in foreskin. God dammit! What a perfectly engineered adversary!

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Son of a BITCH.

But in order to truly hate something, you have to be at least a little bit afraid of it, right? Isn’t that how loathing works? I honestly don’t know what tomatoes ever did to me to earn such scorn, but it must have been awful. Like, in some alternate universe, I’m probably stuck on a planet populated entirely by tomato people, and they just love to smear themselves across my naked body all day long and then fart in my mouth. It’s how they celebrate Christmas.

The point is, I’ve avoided tomatoes my entire life… until now. This past summer, I finally decided to get serious and shake hands with the red devil. And it’s not just because I moved to Germany; it’s because my wife and I live in a house with an actual yard in the back, giving us enough space to have a garden where we can grow our own vegetables. Oh, I know what my fellow tomato haters are thinking about now: “Here comes the part where you tell us fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes are different from every other tomato we’ve ever eaten. And that is stone-cold bullshit.”

You’re right; if you really can’t stand the sumbitches, it won’t matter where you get ’em. Do you know how many times my friends and family members have told me that if I just ate this one, special, super organic, jerked-off-by-Mexicans, magic tomato, it would change my attitude forever? Millions. Okay, not millions — probably closer to 5 or 6 times — but still. I understand your pain.

I’ve tried to like tomatoes. I wanted to stop fighting the good fight, but I just couldn’t do it. They were too gross. Then my wife and I started a garden, and I made two decisions:

  1. I would eat one tiny piece of tomato every single day until I learned to like it.
  2. These tomato pieces would only come from our own garden, because that’s supposed to make them taste less horrid.

And that’s exactly what I did. I slowly acclimated myself to tomatoes like a sickly goldfish in hot water. At first I was like, “NOPE. THEY STILL SUCK. THIS SUCKS.” But gradually my knee-jerk reaction weakened. I stopped gagging and was able to actually chew and swallow small pieces of raw tomato. And you know what really made the difference? The fact that when I plucked a ripe tomato right from the vine in our own garden, brought it inside, cut it up and ate a piece, it tasted sweet. Sweet like sugar — I shit you not. I’d never experienced that before! Not even from fresh tomatoes picked in the exact same way and placed in front of me at a friend’s house. Eating my own tomatoes was the key, and it actually became a pleasant experience.

Another thing which really helped were my wife’s Caprese salads. She loves ’em, but I could only ever eat the mozzarella and basil before. Now, I eat the whole thing, and the best part — I can’t believe I’m saying this — is the tomato. It’s what really ties the dish together. I’ve even graduated to eating burgers and salads with tomatoes on them, and they don’t even have to come from our own garden! (God, I seriously feel like a heathen or a traitor to my country or something.)

I’m not saying tomatoes are the greatest thing in the world, but it’s really nice not to have to pull them off everything I order at a restaurant. It’s like I’ve been at war my entire life, and I’m just now experiencing my first ceasefire. I’m not fool enough to stick my head up out of my foxhole and declare my love for the enemy just yet, but I’m not going to snipe their commanding officer either.

To be fair, I still can’t bite down on a cherry tomato without a good old fashioned dry heave — oh my Christ, the seeds just spurt inside your mouth without warning, like a rude sailor — but maybe someday I’ll get there. Maybe. In the meantime, I must grudgingly award tomatoes with a slightly nauseous 3 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

— OGM


Visiting Konya: Pictures and Videos from Our Trip to Turkey

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So much tea, it will forever haunt my dreams…

As you may have read from our last post, my German wife and I recently enjoyed an epic trip to Konya, Turkey, and we had a blast. This post, however, contains the pictures we took, plus a video at the end, which will give you a nice summary of our experience in just 4.5 minutes.

Here are our pictures! We hope you like them!
Click one of the thumbnails below to start the slideshow and see the captions:

*** WARNING *** Video contains some colorful language. (Also, the sound quality absolutely blows, so you may need to adjust your volume settings higher or lower, depending upon which scene you’re watching.)

If you would like to read the original Konya post, check it out: Discovering Konya, Turkey: The Top 10 Preconceived Notions Dislodged from My American Brain

What It’s Like for an American Expat to Watch “Das Perfekte Dinner” with His German Wife

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“How do you say, ‘food snob’ in German?” — Image Credit: vmiramontes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/vmiramontes/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright.

Have you ever seen Das Perfekte Dinner? It’s a German reality TV show — stolen directly from its creators in the UK — in which 4 or 5 people take turns cooking and hosting dinners in their own homes, then rate one another on a point scale from 1 to 10. The person who scores the most total points wins €1,500 euros. My German wife loves this show and watches it almost every day. I used to watch it with her, until I realized I don’t give one dried piece of flying donkey shit about cooking.

Look, I’m from Portland, Oregon — a town full of foodies and hipsters of every flavor — so by all rights I should be all about this sort of culinary snobbery. I’m just not; to me, cooking is but a series of annoying gestures standing between me and the bacon cheeseburger which should already be crammed in my mouth. My wife, however, is a classy European lady. She has great taste in everything, from fashion to food, and absolutely zero tolerance for anything unrefined.

So as we were watching this one episode of Das Perfekte Dinner, she began mocking one of the contestant for having no idea what “seared ahi” was. (Forget the dish itself: this poor fool seemed not to know the difference between tuna fish and a can of spray paint.) My wife rolled her eyes like a stone cold aristocrat, saying:

“It is pearls for the pigs.”

*Translated directly from the German expression, “Perlen vor die Säue werfen.”

If you would like to read another classic Denglish post, check this one out: My German Wife Shops for American Baby Gifts

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


 

Tips from an American Expat: Everyday Products You’ll Miss after Moving to Germany

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Survey conducted by Dan, blogger and owner of Live Work Travel USA. He’s my opposite — a German expat living in America — like my evil mirror image from a parallel universe. Or am I the evil one? (Clearly one of us has to be destroyed.) But first, Dan asked me…


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“Welcome to America.” — Photo Credit: Ruth Hartnup (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthanddave/) — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

What food items do you miss most from America?

Mexican Food
Now, I realize I just named a type of food that comes from an entirely different country than my own, but hell — Mexico is right there. We’re like passive-aggressive neighbors; all smiling and waving to each other from across the street, then talking massive amounts of shit as soon as we close the front door. “Oh. My. God. Gladys, did you hear what Mexico did today? That slut.” So, I don’t miss that, but I do miss burritos. Big, sloppy, disgusting burritos the size of a newborn baby. Hell yes. And real guacamole. And tortilla chips that aren’t powdered with artificial flavoring, like some weird, evil German’s idea of what nachos should taste like. (Hint: nachos should taste like salt, not Satan’s jockstrap.)

Real Hot Sauce
Tapatio. Sriracha. Dave’s Insanity Sauce. Blair’s After Death Sauce. Mad Dog 44 Magnum Pepper Extract. (Why are these names so violent?) Now, most of these anus-burners can be ordered online, but not all of them. Real hot sauce is hard to find in Germany. Oh sure, they’ve got Tabasco in almost every store, but I said hot sauce, not red vinegar for complete pantywaists. My wife suggested I look in some local Indian and Asian food stores, and she was right! I found my precious Sriracha sauce. Problem is, the bottles are tiny, so they’re the same price if I ordered the big daddies and paid for the shipping, but still! Victory, I say!

Out of Season Fruits and Vegetables
I understand all of the reasons why eating locally-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables is a good idea. It’s good for the economy. Good for the environment. Good for your Mom (zing!). But I’m American; we simply cannot understand the idea of not getting whatever we want, whenever the hell we want it. “Mangos in December. Strawberries in January. No, I have no idea where they’re coming from. What’s the problem, hippy?” So I guess I don’t really care about any one fruit or vegetable in particular; what I care about is that I’m being forced into becoming a better person. When it comes to self improvement, I want it to be according to my schedule — ideally while on a comfy psychiatrist’s couch or readily available in pill form.

Real Ketchup and Mayonnaise
When you order French fries here in Germany, you will typically be asked whether or not you would like them to be, “red and white.” This means half your fries will be drowned in mayonnaise, and the other half in ketchup. Since every American on earth knows dipping your French fries in mayonnaise is black magic communist devil worship (with herpes), I’ll skip over the concept itself. But dude, there is something deeply, terribly wrong with German mayonnaise. It tastes sweet, like Miracle Whip. I hate it, so I basically just avoid anything in this country that has a chance of filling my mouth with thick, white, porno goo. And then there’s the ketchup. Now, I’ve seen Heinz ketchup in the grocery store, but that’s not what you’ll get on the “red” side of your fries — you’re gonna get a weird, thin mutation of ketchup which tastes, inexplicably, like salsa. It’s like the retarded younger brother of ketchup, and nobody knows who the father is.

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“What… what in God’s name is THAT?” — Photo Credit: mike germany (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bestgermanfood/) — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

Which German foods do you like, that you wish you could get in America?

Real Liverwurst
Lots of Americans think they know what real liverwurst tastes like, but they don’t. And they hate it. This is because major supermarket chains in the States sell pink, mass-produced paste called liverwurst, but it tastes like salty foreskin. It wasn’t until I moved to Germany that I saw the full spectrum of liverwurst — every brand, flavor and texture — like a horrifying pâté rainbow in the sky. Yet even after sampling the real deal, I still wasn’t sure about it. My gag reflex remained on high alert: “Hey boy, what do you think you’re trying to sneak past us here? Didn’t we already talk about this back when you were 12 years old, when you smeared this shit on a cracker at that Christmas party? You spit it out into a napkin right in front of the host. Guess this is one lesson we’re gonna have to teach you twice.” What I’m saying is, it took me about 6 months to really make friends with liverwurst, but after I did, I loved it. I also enjoy the fact that so much of it is made from young pig and veal livers, because their youthful energy reinvigorates my own liver and repairs all the damage I’ve done over the years.

Weißwurst
You know Weißwurst: those white sausages served in a steaming ceramic bowl with a lid on top? They’re short, thick and perfectly smooth — like zombie dicks. I think they do sell them in some German restaurants in the States, but I’d never really noticed them before. Now I love these things! I don’t even cut the peel off, like I’ve seen the Germans do; I leave it on because I like the way it pops in my mouth. It reminds me I’m eating an animal which has literally been stuffed up its own ass, and that just seems so right.

Schinkengriller
Okay, now these sausages are the long, thin, dark red ones you see at German festivals. And since I apparently can’t stop talking about dicks today, I’m gonna go ahead and say they look like really long dog dicks. Like a full yard of the proudest Doberman ever. And there’s something saltier and tastier about Schinkengriller than the other sausages. They’re my favorite. I just don’t understand the tiny rolls and slices of white bread they’re served with. If you’re gonna jam your meat into a piece of bread, at least use a hotdog bun or something long enough to make the whole thing feel welcome.

Maß
And of course, in America, I wish I could more easily find 1-liter glasses of beer for sale. Hell, with the exception of local festivals and events, there are only a few pubs here in Hannover that sell them at all. This is probably due to the fact that Maß beers are really more of a Bavarian thing. (And Bavarians regard the rest of Germany the way Texans regard the other 49 states of America — with a playful sense of entitlement masking the fuck off attitude underneath.)

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“He must work out.” — Photo Credit: Alex-501 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/60705975@N08/) — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

Other than food, what products do you miss from America, that you wish you could get here in Germany?

Cheap Clothing
Seriously. Buying clothes in Germany is a painfully expensive ordeal. Especially when it comes to jeans. You can go to some ethically dubious chain and find yourself some cheap blue jeans, but there’s a decent chance some sweatshop child will have sewn a message into the tag: MEN’S JEANS, SIZE: LARGE, MACHINE WASH GENTLE, OH MY GOD PLEASE GET US OUT OF HERE.

Stain Sticks
Stain sticks and sprays are laundry products you can apply to stains immediately after they occur, and then sit on your lazy ass for up to a week before doing the laundry. Stains come right out. Maybe they do sell them here in Germany — or something like them — but I can’t find them anywhere. One time, I spilled red wine on my blue thermal sweatshirt, so my wife applied laundry detergent directly to the stain. Just got the spot wet and rubbed that shit right on in there. Ran it through the washing machine and BOOM; my sweatshirt was covered in these massive, hideous white blotches — like I’d just lost a fistfight with a bottle of chlorine.

Standard Shower heads
Not handheld shower heads. I’ve talked about this before — how Germans love their handheld shower heads — but they’re not for me; I want the hot water to rain down on my head and shoulders like I’m standing beneath a waterfall. It’s soothing. Holding on to the source of the water keeps you from relaxing, and it’s not like the water won’t eventually reach your anus. Jesus. You don’t have to blast the poor thing with a jet of water like you’re suppressing a riot.

Standard Toilets
To be honest, most of the toilets in Germany seem to be standard, as opposed to low-flow. I haven’t encountered too many low-flow toilets here, but when I did, it sucked miserably. Your stinking loaf drops onto a dry shelf, where it remains until you flush. Then it streaks its way into a tiny cup of water before (hopefully) disappearing. You might be surprised just how effective a generous pool of water can be at stifling the true potency of your stink nuggets. Chances are, if you’re American, you’ve been taking standard toilets for granted your entire life. I sure as hell did.

Nighttime Mouth Guards (dental guards for sleeping)
Seriously, why can’t I buy these things in Germany? I clench my jaw at night so hard I am literally cracking my own teeth. Every dentist who has ever looked into my mouth has said, “Wow, your teeth are so straight… and you’ve really never had braces? But jeez, what’s with the nighttime grinding? Here, let me fit you for a €300 euro dental guard — one which your insurance may or may not cover — I have no idea…” And then I get to explain I use $10 dollar night guards from the States, and then the dentist acts like he or she has absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. (Oh, but they do, those sons of bitches.)

Over-the-Counter Medicine
NyQuil, DayQuil, Advil (Ibuprofen), Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Zicam, Excedrin, Claritin, Dimetapp, Neosporin (topical antibacterial) — you know, the basics. You can buy some of these things in Germany, but you’ll have to make an extra trip to the pharmacy (Apotheke) to do it. Oh, and you’ll have to speak to a pharmacist about them too, describing all of your disgusting symptoms in detail before they’ll hand over the goods. “Hi, I have a runny nose. Yes, snot is coming out of it. No, the snot is not brown or yellow. What? Did you just ask if my snot is thick? Look, can I just please have the nasal spray so I can breathe again, god damn you?”

Prescription Drugs
Germany and America have different regulations for prescription-strength medicines, so you can’t always find the drug you need here. This sucks pretty hard for expats like me. I’m American. I’m accustomed to blasting what ails me with the chemical equivalent of a howitzer. If I’ve got a headache, I don’t want to just get rid of it; I want to smash it out of my skull with a hammer. if I can’t sleep, I won’t politely ask insomnia to leave me alone for the night; I’ll stab that bitch right in the windpipe. And when seasonal allergies come around, I’m not going to gently usher them out the door; I’m going to give them two rounds to the chest and sprinkle cocaine on their bodies for the cops to find.

slippers-house-shoes-hausschuhe-germany-japan

“Too many shoes. Getting nervous.” — Photo Credit: Travis Sanders (https://www.flickr.com/photos/travis_sanders/) — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

Are there any German products you wish you could get in America?

House Shoes
Oh sure, we’ve got shoes we choose to wear indoors. They’re called slippers. What I mean are the kind of dedicated footwear every German owns — super comfy, donned the moment you set foot in your home — and typically stored in an orderly fashion in the entryway. I don’t mean like at a party hosted by some asshole who makes you take your shoes off and throw them in a haphazard pile in the corner so you can worry about them being lost or stolen all night long. I’m talking about house shoes; they make you feel at home, peaceful and relaxed, because they’re yours. Kind of like that scene in Full Metal Jacket: “These are my German house shoes! There are many like them, but these ones are mine!”

Scratchy Towels
Thin, scratchy towels are the norm here in Germany. This may sound like a negative, but it isn’t; I used to hate scratchy towels, but have come to love how easily they wick the water from your body. Hell, they downright suck the water off, and they exfoliate your skin at the same time. Like sandpaper that’s juuuust soft enough not to scratch off your fun bits.

Dynamo Lights
Dynamos are lights for your bike which run off the power generated by the rotation of your tires. I’d never seen one before moving to Germany, and I was immediately impressed. Who wants to slap a pair of batteries into a plastic case and then replace them every couple months? I love the idea of generating my own light — like Gandalf saving everyone’s ass at the end of The Two Towers: “At dawn, look to the East!”

Tilt and Turn Windows
These things are yet another example of genius German engineering; a tilt and turn window can tilt inward at the top or open inward completely from the side. Germans invented them, and they rule. (Which is why the rest of the European countries totally ripped off the design.) In America, most everybody has windows the slide up or to the side, and I don’t know about you, but I am constantly breaking these things. Also, I am the clumsiest man alive.

Predial Numbers
I don’t know how they work, but in Germany, you can call America for less than a cent per minute using something called ‘predial’ numbers. They’re usually just 5 or 6 digits dialed before the country code, but only certain service providers allow them. Also, the caller has to be using a land line. But still, awesome! Predial numbers — in addition to Skype, WhatsApp, Instant Messenger, email, letters and postcards — were vital during the time my wife and I were in a long distance relationship. We talked every single day, for an hour during my lunch break Monday through Friday, and then 4-5 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Christ. Just thinking about all those months of heartache makes me want to cry all over again. I’m crying right now, in fact. Like a little bitch.

Effective Public Transportation
U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Bus, Fernbus, Metronom, Regionalbahn, IC, ICE — just about every German city provides access to all of these options. In the States, only a handful of cities even have a subway, and at this moment I’m having trouble remembering any of them except New York. NYC is lousy with subway trains, but I come from Portland, Oregon; we have the bus and a light rail train called The MAX (Metropolitan Area Express). Oh sure, you can hop on a train up to Seattle or something, but it sucks. Takes forever. We need high-speed trains, man!

Summary:

Until I received this survey from Dan, I never really thought much about foods or products I missed from the States. And I definitely hadn’t thought about things from Germany I might miss back home. I just didn’t care. What can you do about it anyway? Forgo clean undies by stuffing your suitcase full of hot sauce and prescription drugs? Shit, I’d rather get caught smuggling dildos.

The availability of American foods and products in Germany is actually quite impressive. In fact, I have to award Germany 4 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds for its effort:

Merkel-Diamonds-4-of-5

But the truth is, if you want to live in a foreign country, you have to adapt. That’s what every good expat does. In fact, the only thing I truly miss from home is the luxury of not having a language barrier. I miss my ability to handle minor tasks and solve problems without applying a bunch of time and effort. I am terribly lazy, you see, so I have to preserve what small amount of vital energy I have left. If I don’t, my wife will find me passed out on the floor because I tried to read a German baking recipe. “Salz, Zucker… that’s ‘salt’ and ‘sugar,’ probably… oh my God, what is Schlagsahne? Some kind of cream, right? Hitting cream? Aw Jesus…” BOOM! — I’m on the floor.

Thank you, Dan, for asking me these questions and prompting this blog post. And thank you, Reader, for reading it. If you’d like to see another one, check out: InterNations: An American Expat Answers Questions About Living in Germany


Thinking of moving to the US? Ever wondered what life is like for expats on the other side of the pond? For information on life as a German expat in the United States, visit Dan’s site:

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Live Work Travel USA


 

 

My German Wife Makes A Can of “Hot Pot” Soup and Leaves Me A Hilarious Note About It

Hot Pot Glass Noodle Soup German Canned

Within this can resides enough explosive power to detonate your colon like a pink sock full of gunpowder.

I guess Hot Pot soup originally comes from China, but they sell the hell out of it here in Germany. And let me tell you, it absolutely lives up to its name; it is hot, spicy, and, well… it fits perfectly inside the average cooking pot. But you know how my German wife and I like to pimp our pizzas on Sunday nights? Well, we also like to pimp our soups.

We add chili peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, hamsters, gerbils — just whatever the hell we have laying around the house — and throw them all together with a can of soup to make a flavor explosion violent enough to not only damage our mouths, but destroy them entirely. And the gastrointestinal effects? Oh, they confound they senses. Have you ever passed gas so fiery-hot it seared the very lining of your anus? Have you ever generated flatulence so potent it made you see stars? We have, and we do so every time we pimp a can of Hot Pot.

So the other day, my wife noticed the mushrooms in our refrigerator were about to go bad. She sliced them up — along with some random greens, an entire onion, and several handfuls of crushed red chili peppers — and tossed them into a boiling crucible of Hot Pot soup. I was off at my German language class, so she ate a bowl and left the rest for me, along with this fantastic little note:

hilarious note from wife to husband

To clarify, the note reads: “Hi sweets, I hope you had a good class. I made soup for us — hot pot and I think it’ll burn our little butt hole! Yours more than mine! :) I love you!”