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:

zungenwurst-tongue-sausage-german-food-deli

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.

weltmeisterbrotchen-seedy-german-bread-roll

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.)

speck-lardo-german-pork-fat-1

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.

grunkohl-german-food-kale

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.

wiener-wurstchen-jarred-sausage-hot-dogs

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.

krauter-griebenschmalz-fat-german-lard

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!”

prosciutto-italiano-salumeo-german-food-2

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.

mettwurst-schinken-paprika-german-food

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.

sulze-paprika-and-schweinkopf-german-food

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.

Schinken-Teewurst-cured-spreadable-german-meat-food

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


 

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124 thoughts

    1. Speck is no different from bacon – Speck does not get cooked it get cubed and you make it just like bacon – taste is not that much different :) but its just like bacon :)

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      1. As a Canadian, I feel like I’m an authority on bacon. And speck…speck is NOT bacon. It’s not even “like” bacon. They both have pig fat, that’s where the similarities end.

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    1. This is my 7 year old’s favorite wurst… she actually cleaned out our local store of their last 3 packages before a holiday weekend. Thankfully, she doesn’t like ketchup… I definitely think I’d gag.

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      1. Ok I have to say that you picked “almost” all the food i do not like and I am German – Speck is bacon and make it just like bacon :) Wieners out of the jar is like old old food from the dollar tree – seriously …yuck I am German and would not eat them — we get them fresh from the market or over the counter at the fresh meat area in the store and once you ate them there trust me you love love — The bread spread that seems raw and the Paprika sausage is smoked if you eat it the right way (lol) it is really good — German spread belongs on german broetchen and bread the sausage with a brotchen and a beer lol — its all in how you eat it –the Gruen kohl in the jar – same thing Dollar tree lol never ever we buy it fresh and cook it – Makes a huge difference – —- What makes me really upset is some of the place in the states pretending to cook German food and i go to try it and well —- (i ordered Gipsy Schnitzel which is made out of a boneless pork-chop with fresh cooked bell-peppers and onion in a red sauce very tasty served with noodles or potatoes ) I looked at my plate after i tried it and told the waitress –What is this ? She assured me it is what i ordered i told her that there is no way it is horrible and looks like something that came back out of your stomach and put on top of the meat- I asked the cook what he cooked well – a pork-chop a can of tomato sauce plain and salsa added and seasoning — YUCK — that’s not German food … Horrible — Many places do that its like a Impostor — lucky me i know how to cook lol but all in all The German food has many great things …If cooked Right and you eat it with what you should try to eat it with :)

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  1. Hello! France has some pretty weird stuff too including that head cheese. Gross! Unlike you, I haven’t learned to love it at all. Hilarious post as usual. Best line: “…and Germans lack the common decency to be ashamed of it.”

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  2. Grunkohl, schmalzbrot, Mettwurst, prociutto, and even….sulze! Om nom nom. Actually I will only eat Sulze if it is made by the butcher from real chunks of meat…not from the head of pig. I even indulge in roh hack. Nothing like freshly ground raw steak meat on a slice of baguette.

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  3. I’m German and I would eat only 3 out of 9. Prosciutto doesn’t count just because its so popular here. It comes out of massive pig farms in Northern Italy. It’s weird stuff, borderline smelly and yummy at the same time.

    Some of the food you mention is so gross it should be banned and sold under the counter to crazy Kraut Aficionados. Like “Fromage avec des habitons”. That’s cheese sold in Corsica, comes with live bugs in it.

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      1. Nope. I don’t eat those parts of pigs if I’m willingly told about them. (Hence why I only eat Hebrew National hot dogs.)

        Lachs are cheap, according to Kaiser’s and Aldi anyway. I’m good. I’ll just eventually get a nice set of gills…and possibly a fin or tail.

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  4. Thank you for another hilarious post. You had me in stitches. Literally. We do eat strange things, don’t we. Have you also noticed how salty everything is in Germany?

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      1. Not quite – but similar.
        gastr. Swabian pockets [Pasta squares filled with meat and spinach] As the translation says, popular in the South of Germany. Plus – Speck is existing in two varieties: Fat variety Speck (what you have shown) and “durchwachsen” which will remind you more of Bacon. I prefer the latter.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. World Master Bread Roll. More a World-Champion-Breadroll – as it is with different seeds it is thought to be good for your fitness. And Sülze is aspic or brawn (and even the English ate it made from a pig’s head) Griebenschmalz translates as crackling fat. You are welcome. (Dict.cc is your friend – but do not get too initmate with it – it is all mine!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am German and wouldn’t eat most of the stuff.
    Concerning “Schinkenmettwurst”: Try proper ones some time. Not the disgusting stuff from the supermarket (and if you buy there, take the high quality stuff), but fresh from the butcher. There is a world between them. Same for Wiener Würstchen! I am of the firm opinion that they don’t belong into a glass.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. After 10 years, the only one of those I’ve had is a weltmeister broetchen and can say I’m very grateful to have not integrated in the culinary department. Those pig parts look disgusting.

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  8. Your Zungenwurst is our Zwartepens ramped up. My wife simply won’t. Won’t buy it, won’t taste it. Nothing.
    There’s nothing that tastes like those pennies with some mashed potatoes. Mmmmm!
    We also have a penchant for eating bunnies and horses. Daily. On purpose.
    The horse meat scandal strikes and Belgians are all “which brand of frozen lasagna is that we’re supposed to be buying to be having the horse?”

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  9. A “Weltmeister” is a ‘world champion”…not a ‘world master” 😊
    Keep trying and ENJOYING! ! Not too much to enjoy food wise in US…😭

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      1. Because we are world champions in the only sport that matters.

        Seriously those buns were created when Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006. Before that they were just called Mehrkornbrötchen (multi grain buns) and a little smaller (square instead of rectangular).

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  10. Hehe!! Lots of yummie food you´ve found… And honestly? I would take a piece from each with me, if I´d ever visit the united states, where “real food” seems missing… LOL!
    Things we do not know seem always weird. But, congrats! You´ve tried! And thus learned… :)
    Though – Just avoid that cheep crab wrapped in tons of plastics and buy the fresh stuff. You will love these things even more :)
    .. and now I´m hungry…. *grins*

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  11. Ha ha, glad you are just as confused by all these foreign foods as I am here in Britain! For years I had been shuddering at all that kale nonsense – why on earth would you eat that stuff? It’s, like, healthy! – until I realised it is basically, Grünkohl. Just without the bits of Speck. Seriously.

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  12. Grünkol and Speck, it is pretty obvious you’re living in the North of Germany.
    Ever since moving East and later way down South, those are the things I really miss on a cold winter day…

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  13. Now that I’m a vegetarian, I travel the world and am completely adventurous in my eating —- as long as I’m assured that what I’m eating is vegetarian. That lets out 9 of your 10 listings.

    My husband’s a Brit, but he didn’t pick up any weird eating habits (eels, yuck).

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  14. Well I’m German and I eat all this stuff. Sometimes hard to find in Texas, but since my mom learned butcher as her job, I will always get some of the good stuff!

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  15. Have you somehow missed out on Katzenzungen (Cat tongues) — pieces of chocolate shaped like cat tongues — and Katzenohren — little pieces of licorice shaped like cat ears. Apparently there are no candies named after the body parts of dogs. Go figure! And, in response to an earlier post, where you bemoaned the absence of stain remover, try Sil Saptil fur Reise & Vorbehandlung. It comes in a humongous tube — like giant-sized toothpaste — and it works pretty well. Just put it on the spot/stain and throw the article in the laundry basket until you’re ready to do a wash.

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    1. Thank you for the tip about the stain sticks, Jaton! That’s awesome. I wrote it down for our next Amazon order.

      I’d never heard of cat tongues or cat ears. Now I must ask my wife about them. Like, right now. :)

      As always, thank you for reading and commenting, my friend!

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  16. Here in Italy they make that stuff that’s basically pig-anything and everything all mashed up and squeezed into a large sausage then sliced into delicate, delectable slices…..but you know what? – If you’re gonna eat pig, does it really make a difference if it’s muscle or brain or big toe? Pig is pig, is it not!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. with the exception of Prosciutto(which we southerners actually call Speck) and the Weltmeisterbrötchens, those are all foods I, as a german won’t eat. I don’t even know why they sell that stuff, but then again I also don’t know how some of my fellow germans can spend 70€ at the butcher’s. (I love meat, but sometimes there’s people who don’t seem to eat anything but sausage)

    OK, maybe I’d give the Wieners a chance, but not if they’re from a glass.

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  18. When I head to Germany there are some things I just cannot try – they’re pretty much your list up there! I’m sure if I lived there I’d give them a go – you’ve got to try everything once, right? The German husband loves Mettwurst and all the other raw meat products! I do have a penchant for Schmaltz though – they serve it with some bread at a local brauhaus and I can’t get enough of it, I just try to forget what it actually is!

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  19. This is such a delightful blog to read. The Zungenwurst really looks and sounds pretty tough to swallow (both literally and figuratively), and the way you described it makes me either want to have a go at it, or run a thousand miles away from it. Looking forward to reading your next post, this is indeed worthy of being featured on WordPress. Keep blogging!

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  20. Griebenschmalz! I love it! Used to have rolls with Griebenschmalz (the brown one is so much better than the white one) and salt.

    Your list makes me homesick ;) Whenever I go and see my family I come back with a car full of Mettwurst, Wiener (usually poultry würstchen), cold cuts and beer.

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  21. Hello MGMWIG,

    I red your blog some time now, and I find it hilarious.

    But in regards to comsumption of Teewurst:
    Why this strange obsession with eating sausage raw (which I think means without bread)?

    May I introduce you to a german adage, which says much about the mind set of the historic german farmers:
    “In der Not
    essen wir die Wurst auch ohne Brot!”
    which translates to the unrhyming
    In a plight we’ll eat the sausage but without the bread.

    Even in destitution they were sure to find something to eat in the rich variety of smoked and salted sausages, that were found in any farming household.
    But more illustrating; the important thing to eat is the bread, not the sausage.

    So eat the sausage with bread. This may even help the mouth feeling of the Schinkenmettwurst :-D.

    Kind regards,
    Reiner Niemand

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  22. If that’s what you “Northies” eat, I think I’ll stay right here in the South. Ewwww. Give me some Schweinshaxe with Knödel any day.

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  23. Whoa, and I thought I had an adventurous appetite when I travel! Unfortunately it’s texture that usually gets the better of me so I don’t know if I’ll be able to try any of those foods that taste/feel like eating raw meat. Maybe when we’re in Germany I’ll just survive on giant pretzels :)

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  24. Oh wow, you have gone native. I always wonder how Germans can eat so much raw pork and not get cysticercosis. Seriously, can someone answer this burning question? It’s been bothering me for like 10 years.

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    1. Yes, we have actually a good and working quality system in our Food chain. Pigs receive regular anti-worm treatments. And inspectors are very thorough over here. Also the sanitation of pigpens is rather high standard. Some pigs (for Bio – organic – meat) even enjoy a life in the open.

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  25. Haha, nice! I love Weltmeisterbrötchen, and I really miss them here in the Netherlands, but for the rest, I only eat Wiener Würstchen and do not like the rest. At all. And I am German…haha

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  26. Hahahaha, it’s very funny how you look on german food :) (I’m Austrian, so I grew up with the same stuff.)
    Have you ever tryed Leberkäse or Blutwurst? :)
    On the other hand I also sometimes think Americans have a crazy food culture. A good excample would be mashed potatoes with marshmallows…

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      1. Haha, I must admit I’ve never been to America, but I’ve heard it’s a popular thanksgiving side dish. I wouldn’t eat such thing because the mix seems just wrong to me :)

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      2. Just to clarify, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows is a popular Thanksgiving side-dish. Not horrible, but not a favorite of mine. Every year SOMEONE always ends up making and bringing it…

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    1. Not mashed potatoes; sweet potatoes, usually in slices with carmelized brown sugar and marshmallows, which is baked. It is delicious to counter saltier thanksgiving foods.

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  27. Reblogged this on Mosel Musings and commented:
    I have to admit, whilst like this guy I too find some German food a bit strange, what strikes me the most is it remains true to its roots.

    Food back home seems to have been unceremoniously raped and pillaged by celebrity chefs who tell us our traditional Sunday roast should be cooked in “EVOO” (took me ages to realize what that was” and accompanied a side of quinoa and garnished with flat leaf parsley. And for Christ’s sake, why the hell did that Heston bloke have to insist Little Chef dribble balsamic vinegar around the edges of a morning fry up?!

    In contrast, German food – as weird as some of it may seem to outsiders – does remain pretty unadulterated and is as Großmutter would have cooked it years ago.

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  28. Important thing: You put the Zungenwurst first. Right were it belongs!!

    Have you tried Rinderzunge? Which is actually just a pure cut from the cured/dried (whatever) tongue of a cow. So without all the blood and fat part. I thing its even better than Zungenwurst.

    And you’ve forgotten “Mett” pure ground pork, with a rather high portion of fat. You spread it on a bun and garnish it with raw onion rings and salt and pepper. The whole creation is then called “Maurerfrühstück” (brick layer’s breakfast). Basically the breakfast or lunch for real man.

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  29. So I bought a “sausage” to make a breakfast, and like you unsure I bought it anyway. Prior to cooking it however, I looked up the name and stumbled upon your article….I died laughing, seriously!!! The 2 items you listed I bought and OMG I don’t think I’ve laughed that much since I arrived here a month ago! It’s always interesting grocery shopping and trying to guess at what the hell IM about to purchase. One may say, be safe and just go to the commissary, but what fun would that be…course I’m not here long so may as well be adventurous!! Thanks again for the laughs..on to your next about being a thief…side note …I read the first paragraph and already snickered but had to get to cooking!!! Ciao! Or Chuse!!! Lol

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  30. With the exception of #2, chase them with a nice Northern Korn or even Doppelkorn and have your favorite Feierabend beer afterwards. You will never want to miss out on that combination anymore ;)

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  31. I am German but have lived in the US since 1968,that said I don’t agree with all the food descriptions, for Gruenkohl is the best cooked with some kind of meat like bacon for taste We Germans don’t just eat Gruenkohl by itself.I just ordered some schinken and bratwurst from Bavarian sausage co.they have great German food.I am from northern Germany and have eaten all these foods you have shown here,you are funny!

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  32. Hello, my husband and I are flying in to Dusseldorf today and I was wondering if you can recommend good restaurants and night life places. We would love to try interesting unordinary German food that is why i stumbled upon your blog. Please email me at kristabelmarie@gmail.com for any recommendations.

    Also for any events this coming up week in Dusseldorf if you know any. Thank you!

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  33. Love this. I am a German living in Taiwan, and in the Taiwanese/Chinese kitchen, no part of a pig or chicked is wasted.
    So the next time German friends come here and cast weird looks at pig ears, duck heads or BBQ chicken assholes on a stick, I will just shove this text down their throats.

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  34. When I went to Germany last December I was amazed by the quantity of their food that is a huge mix a many ingredients that we would have never tought to mix (in Canada). I tasted a ” cheese salad” spread on bread for breakfast. It was a strange mix of different cheeses with mayonnaise and carrots, and even corn!! But I miss it lol

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  35. I lived in Germany for more then 35 years and have eaten almost everything that is written about, my wife is from Frankfurt so what about “Hand Kaese mit Musik” (Hand cheese with music) It’s a bit of a smelly cheese served with onions, oil and vinegar. I love it just very hard and expensive to get here.

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  36. Reblogged this on Global Family Treks and commented:
    I’ve been in Germany for 4 years and I’ve still not gotten the nerve to try many xxx-wursts after trying out a couple of oh-so-cutely packaged wursts. Earthworm feel? F-ing accurate description. Thanks for putting words to that feeling.

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  37. All your mentioned Foods are yummy, yummy,BUT, I would never buy them in a supermarket or smaller grocery store packaged . . . I buy all my meats, sausages etc…at our local butcher shop . . . .and, you can taste the difference ;-)

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  38. Oh man, I feel right at home again. This was hilarious reading. Thank you! I often wondered what other people thought of “our” food..lol. I moved to Canada and I’m still searching for a proper bread here. This brings back so many good memories. One thing you forgot – Leberwurst. Lol that usually incites gag reflexes of the people around me when I unpack my lunch..lol.

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  39. Awesome post!!! You are quite an adventurous eater, and I definitely admire that. I’ve been living in Germany for fifteen years, now, and have come across most of these things–and I’m occasionally tempted–but then I order chicken salad. :-) Seriously, though, after reading this I’m sorta tempted to break out of the box. Maybe. Not with number one, though! Had you not mentioned hearing screams when you bit in, I might have gone for it. But I’ll never get that image out of my mind. GREAT BLOG.

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  40. As an American living in Germany also–this cracks me up. I may be vegetarian but now I can vicariously enjoy the half-raw sausages through this blog. Your writing style is hilarious!

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  41. dear lord, another couple of weeks and I am moving to munich – not sure if i am amazed or scared by what is expecting me there! :) i am brazilian married to a german man so you blog has been a constant read for me to learn a bit more of this wonderful country and their wonderful people. First time i saw my then german boyfriend spreading pork fat on a bread i was so shocked, then i tried and it is pretty amazing. my rule when i am getting in germany will be not asking what it is, just try it first and see if i like.

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  42. # 9 Sülze is not made of cows head or any entrails or pig feet.
    It is only the Pigs head, cheeks and tongue that is going to be used in it. The feet are cooked with the other stuff to give the gallert consistence when it is chilled. So no artificial binder agent has to be added.
    It is seasoned with onions, juniper berry, bay-leaves, pepper and salt.

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