Let’s Talk Food

How else would I start a travel blog?

My food experience here has probably not been “traditional” German because my tour guide is a vegetarian who doesn’t really like the typical German food. I suppose that’s not too different from me showing Mara around the US because I’m not one to eat burgers and fries, so maybe it is an accurate portrayal of a German college student.

Anyway, my first night Mara and her roommate cooked risotto with tomatoes, mozzarella, and arugula. I’ve asked her to translate the recipe from German to English so that I can cook it in my flat in London. Even with the recipe in English I might struggle a little because the recipe will be in mL rather than cups, but that will be a challenge for another day.

There is bread everywhere. Germany is a carb-lovers dream, but you won’t find the typical soft, bleached bread that Americans like. They have pretzels, rolls, and simply slices of bread – all full of texture and flavor. It’s served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I can understand now why this is what Mara was most homesick for when she was at my house.

My first morning I woke up to my first German breakfast - rolls with a lot of different toppings. Note: there was peanut butter, though I think that is due to the fact that both Mara and her roommate studied in the US.

My first morning I woke up to my first German breakfast – rolls with a lot of different toppings. Note: there was peanut butter, though I think that is due to the fact that both Mara and her roommate studied in the US.

It is still surprising to me that I can’t read anything, including menus. So, rather than having people read me entire menus, I have had to be trusting and let them recommend delicious food. So far, it’s been successful because I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve eaten. Here are some of my restaurant adventures:

Street Kitchen

This is a Vietnamese restaurant that is enjoyed by a lot of college students because it is delicious and cheap. We made a reservation because it's so popular, but Mara warned me they would likely hurry us out. I had some type of chicken and noodle dish with salad served on top that was topped with some kind of spicy dressing. I cooled down with a refreshing traditional Vietnamese drink (or so I'm told) that is basically lemonade, but with limes.

This is a Vietnamese restaurant that is enjoyed by a lot of college students because it is delicious and cheap. We made a reservation because it’s so popular, but Mara warned me they would likely hurry us out. I had some type of chicken and noodle dish with salad served on top, dressed with something spicy. I cooled down with a refreshing traditional (or so I’m told) Vietnamese drink that is basically lemonade, but with limes.

Traditional German

Mara and I ventured to her hometown of Göttingen so I could meet her mom and sister in person (as opposed to the usual Skype meetings). To celebrate the long-awaited introduction, Mara's mom treated us to a traditional German meal! As you can maybe see in the picture, we ordered the same thing, mostly because I let her choose for me. I had schnitzel, white asparagus, which is the seasonal specialty, and potatoes, washed down with alster (beer mixed with sprite). Mara encouraged me to order my drink on my own, so I mustered an,

Mara and I ventured to her hometown of Göttingen so I could meet her mom and sister in person (as opposed to the usual Skype meetings). To celebrate the long-awaited introduction, Mara’s mom treated us to a traditional German meal! As you can maybe see in the picture, we ordered the same thing, mostly because I let her choose for me. I had schnitzel, white asparagus, which is the seasonal specialty, and potatoes, washed down with alster (beer mixed with sprite). Mara encouraged me to order my drink on my own, so I mustered an, “Ein Alster, bitte,” but then was flustered when he asked me small or large. I told him small, and when he asked me to confirm, for some reason I said, “Oui,” which is neither English or German, so I don’t know where that came from. I think it’s good to have humbling experiences like that.

Germans like to finish a meal with a shot of espresso, but I was amused to see that it is paired with a shot of water. This is the only free water I have managed to find in Germany.

Germans like to finish a meal with a shot of espresso, but I was amused to see that it is paired with a shot of water. This is the only free water I have managed to find in Germany. By the way, this restaurant was called Kartoffelhaus, which translates to potato house – I’m not sure what could be more fitting for my first traditional German cuisine.

Audrey Café

Mara and I passed this cute Audrey Hepburn-themed café as we were rollerblading, but we didn't think it was appropriate to go there in skates. Today while Mara was in class for 5 hours, so I took that time to go back. As this was my first adventure on my own, I was lucky that no one was in the café so that I could ask the worker lots of questions (and double lucky that she was fluent in English). Normally I would've gone for cake and coffee, but it was just past lunch time, so a meal was in order. She explained all of the meal options and I went with a panini with eggplant (one of the anitpasti specials of the day). I asked her what she would choose to drink with it and she brought out two flavor options of fritz-kola, which is somewhere in between soda and flavored sparkling water. Normally I don't drink soda, but I'm going with recommendations, so I tried the elderflower flavor. Very refreshing and perfectly pink to match the Audrey Café decor!

Mara and I passed this cute Audrey Hepburn-themed café as we were rollerblading, but we didn’t think it was appropriate to go there in skates. Today while Mara was in class for 5 hours, I took that time to go back. As this was my first adventure on my own, I was lucky that no one was in the café so that I could ask the worker lots of questions (and double lucky that she was fluent in English). Normally I would’ve gone for cake and coffee, but it was just past lunch time, so a meal was in order. She explained all of the meal options and I went with a panini with eggplant (one of the anitpasti specials of the day). I asked her what she would choose to drink with it and she brought out two flavor options of fritz-kola, which is somewhere in between soda and flavored sparkling water. Normally I don’t drink soda, but I’m going with recommendations, so I tried the elderflower flavor. Very refreshing and perfectly pink to match the Audrey Café decor!

Audrey has international appealNot pictured:

  1. Breakfast cereal – Jacob and Will, I’m sorry to inform you that you would not be able to destroy some sugary cereal here. The “cereal” is actually just uncooked oats with raisins and sometimes nuts. It is served with either milk or yogurt. One of my favorite breakfast meals is oatmeal, but Mara said that people only cook the oats for children. Eating uncooked oats is tasty, but it takes a really long time to chew….
  2. Cake/Cookies – When we reached Mara’s home apartment, her mom asked us if we’d like some cake and coffee. Mara informed me that as a college student she doesn’t have midday cake, but traditionally that is the custom around 3 or 4 PM. The cake we had was rhubarb cake and plum cake, cut into little rectangles and eaten with small, specialty cake forks. Germans have a lot more utensils than we use in the US. While we’re discussing cake, I have been amused that the German word for cake is Kuchen, which sounds a bit like cookie, while cookies are called Keks (pronounced cakes). Note: Cookies here are not soft, so I brought Mara some homemade American cookies.
  3. I was prepared for the portions to be smaller in Europe, but that does not apply to alcohol. Everything is smaller, but beers are GIANT! If you want water though, it will be tiny. And probably sparkling. I miss my Camelback. Luckily, tap water in Mara’s apartment is good and free.
  4. German pancakes – In between an American pancake and a crepe, we find Pfannkuchen, with a texture that is slightly rubbery. Like the breakfast rolls, there are many toppings you can put on the pancakes. My favorite was nutella, strawberry jam, and fruit salad. You can either eat it flat or roll it up. I asked if they ever eat it with syrup, but the closest thing they have is a molasses that is made with some type of vegetable similar to a carrot, though no one knew the English translation.* At this brunch, Mara’s mom also made me try Leberwurst, and that is the only thing I haven’t loved here.

*Mara looked it up, and it is made from sugar beets.

In a few hours, we are meeting up with Mara’s friends to have a picnic! I hope this post leaves you feeling hungry and wanting some hearty bread 😉 Guten Appetit!

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