Understanding Germans – No. 2 Breakfasting

In Germany it’s a break”feast” not a break”fast”

This is an extraxt from a most awesome article published by Adam Fletcher:

"Coming from England, I was very surprised to see how important the kitchen is to the German people. The English tend to treat it purely as a room of function, like the toilet, only with a fridge. You get in, do what you’ve got to do, get out.The living room is the heart of the home.

For the Germans, it’s a different story, they are happiest and spend the most time in their kitchens. It’s the most practical room in the house. You have a table, water, coffee, food, radio, serious, correct-posture-encouraging seating. They’ve correctly realised, if trouble does come calling, they’ll be best prepared for it by holing up in their kitchens.

German breakfasts are not meals, but elaborate feasts. If it’s a weekend, every square inch of the table will be smothered in an assortment of meats, cheeses, fruits, jams, spreads and other condiments. It’ll look like someone broke in and while hunting for valuables just tipped the contents of all the cupboards out onto the table.

The first time I experienced breakfast in a German WG it lasted so long that I drifted off into a sort of breakfast coma and they had to wake me with some eszet, which is a sort of chocolate strip you put on bread. I didn’t know you could legally combine chocolate and bread, it was quite a revelation. Now I just eat eszet with everything, and slowly I’ve learnt to eat more and also slower, during the long drawn out German breakfasts.

The worst gameshow I’ve ever seen was an English one called “Touch the truck”. It’s premise, if I can be so generous as to call it that, was that lots of people touch a truck and then we all wait, the last person to let go off the truck, wins the truck. It sometimes feels like German breakfasts work on a similar premise, only the truck is breakfast."

A habit I refuse to live up to is to have breakfast before I go to work. Really. People wake up an hour earlier just to have breakfast - and even if their work starts as early as 6:30 am in the morning (I doubled that just to make the point from where I am coming from!).

If you want to treat your colleagues on your birthday, spending a breakfast for everyone is widely accepted (no need to bake a cake or something fancy like buying a beer for lunch - no, don't think afterwork, nobody will spend the time with you). Breakfast musts are bread and butter (its "brötchen" if you want it to be called a "nice" breakfast (and that's what you want if you use that as treat). And at least 10 different kinds of jams, cold cuts or cheese. And coffee. Or tea.

Doesn't matter if its a weekday and as early as 5:30 or weekend 10:30. The only difference is, that you won't go for scrambled eggs on a weekday. And you'll have fresh "Brötchen" or "Semmel" (depending on where you live in Germany) bought this very morning at a bakery. Not a supermarket. But there is no difficulty with that, there are at least 4 bakeries in your closest neighborhood.

If you want to play it safe you go for "Müsli" instead. Children eat "cornflakes". Ideally those that consists of 95% sugar.  And if you want to treat yourself, press some fresh oranges (or by the nearly fresh stuff at the supermarket).

And if you want to live up to that you repeat the whole procedure for dinner!


Heike Fischer: www.heifischblog.com

Posted in Understanding Germans.