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The (second) breakfast of champions

The Local · 7 Dec 2009, 16:51

Published: 07 Dec 2009 16:51 GMT+01:00

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Germany is governed by ritual, as strange and as rigid as those in Japan. However, instead of the oriental tea-ceremony, the Germans have the “Second Breakfast.” Usually this is an elegantly packed, lovingly unpacked Leberwurstbrot, which must be consumed between 9:30 and 10 am.

The other day I went to the bakers for a cup of coffee and found that I had to balance my cup and my Fleischsalat (only Germans could come up with something called “meat salad” to put on your toast) on the very edge of a table because the place was full of orange-glowing rubbish collectors, carpenters and gardeners. A bus driver popped by and so did the policemen who should have been keeping an eye on the local Jewish memorial.

“Aha,” said one customer, “you celebrate Bergfest too?” Mountains give me nightmares – I have long argued for making Bavaria flat – so I didn’t understand the reference. Apparently the Bergfest, and my apologies to readers who have always known this, is celebrated at 12 o’clock on Wednesday because it is the summit of the working week. From then on, it is all downhill towards the well-deserved weekend.

Fine, I thought, I have learned something new. But the next day, while walking the dog, I noticed that all my fellow workweek mountaineers were sitting in their trucks eating Leberwurst on bread at precisely 9:30 am. It was like that irritating television advertisement for that midmorning snack Knoppers: “Mornings at half past nine in Germany!” It’s almost as if the stomachs of the whole German population have been programmed to rumble since their first Pausenbrot at school. How many calories does a German labourer need? How many Puddingbretzel have to be consumed before he can successfully check your tyre pressure or fix your sink? How many hours does he spend actually working?

There are even regional takes on this second breakfast culture. In Plattdeutsch, or Low German, it’s called Fofftein. We can deduce from the word that the North German spends no more than fifteen minutes on his Brotzeit. The Berliner, according to my investigations, takes 45 minutes. Perhaps a certain Bundesbank director could do the appropriate calculation to see how much time is crumbling away every month. Germany seems convinced that it has made the giant leap into a service society – shopping until 9 pm on Fridays! But it is still held back by archaic routines such as this second breakfast. Or have you ever tried to ring a plumber at 10:15 a.m.?

The answer – obviously – is to introduce the Anglo-Saxon model. The priority of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government has to be to persuade the nation to eat the full English breakfast every morning. Scrambled or fried egg, baked beans, grilled tomato, two sausages, mushrooms, fried bread. Tea with milk. Cornflakes or porridge. The resulting boost in productivity should put Germany firmly on the path to growth.

Now, you don’t have to be a top dietician to work out the problem with the English breakfast. It was devised in the Industrial Revolution to give workers the 3,000 calories they needed to dig in the coal mines; by four o’clock, they had burned up the energy and were ready for teatime. But you don’t burn 3,000 calories by working in a call centre. So, there is the risk of getting fat. Not, though, if you use high quality ingredients and eat in moderation. In that case, the breakfast can do you nothing but good. Organic eggs, home-made bread, grilled bio-tomatoes, meaty tight-skinned sausages.

Story continues below…

Britain is full of happy octogenarians who have eaten the bacon-and-egg breakfast all their lives, all fitter than I am. Germans should convert now to get the nation’s proverbial intestines chugging. Who knows – maybe soon you will be able to get your washing machine fixed in the Fatherland at 9:30 am.

For more Roger Boyes, check out his website here.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:16 December 7, 2009 by lordkorner
This article is complete garbage and hard to digest.
20:35 December 7, 2009 by gwatts
The British should be the last people to be giving advice about food to anyone!
20:56 December 7, 2009 by Renate
First: the life expectancy is higher in Germany that in Britain.

Second: the British 'culinary art ' is the biggest load of cxxp that one could use to obstruct his/her arteries. Really, you -probably- have the worst cuisine of Europe.

Third: the United Kingdom comes in as the third fattest country in the world. Do you know why? Because you eat enormous quantities of sxxt, beginning with your suicidal over-caloric breakfasts.

Stop trying to 'export' your lethal 'dietetics', we have enough with ours :p
22:47 December 7, 2009 by coyote3000
I have to agree with the others. This has to be one of the worst articles I've read lately.

Besides, what's wrong with having a snack at 9:30 or 10? And certainly eating some wurst on a rye bread or some fruit is better for you than scoffing a tray of donuts, muffins, biscuits, etc. etc. during a coffee or tea break.
23:22 December 7, 2009 by adc102
Do you seriously think British people eat that kind of breakfast every day???

It's something we eat every now and again.. sometimes on a weekend or when on holiday. Who on earth has time to cook that kind of meal in the morning!
08:59 December 8, 2009 by LancashireLad
This is brilliant.

I can tell from every comment who is British, and therefore able to read between the lines, and who isn't and can only take things at face value.

Chill !!!

I do however have one huge gripe with this article.

Baked beans have no place in civillised society, let alone an decent English breakfast.
09:09 December 8, 2009 by DoubleDTown
My dear Boyes, you have a point. What you don't have is a whole column.
10:07 December 8, 2009 by Gaffers
I don't know which is funnier. The article or the ridiculous responses? The article was meant as tongue in cheek and possibly written to test just how long it would be before the first "British food is the worst in the world ... blah blah" comment was posted by the dumb folk.

Proof of the lack of German sense of humour?
12:03 December 8, 2009 by loz_adele
God, you guys really need to relax! The article is obviously meant as a joke and a bit of light reading (I say obvious because like adc102 says, no Brit eats a full monty every day and I'm always amused at how many Germans actually think we do). All that stuff about how fat we all are and have the worst cuisine in the world (and I'm sorry but living in Germany I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen 'food' I wouldn't touch with a barge pole - pickled herring anyone? And what the heck is that weird slab of what looks like pig fat and still has thick black hairs poking through?! bleurgh) I think British and German cuisine are pretty similar really, they're both very deftig and you see fat people in both countries. So is it really called for?Just cos someone made a bit of a joke about the 'second breakfast'? Lighten up people : )
14:14 December 8, 2009 by eudaimonia42

german people don't understand sarcasm.
17:24 December 8, 2009 by loz_adele
Oh for goodness sake! Of course it's not news, it's just a bit of fun! What is with you people? All newspapers, online or on paper, have similar articles where they poke fun at stuff or express an opinion about something. Some of us get fed up of reading about the latest war or financial crisis and articles like this are a nice change in between the real news. You don't have to agree with it or take it seriously. I find Roger Boyes' stuff funny. Why don't you just stop whingeing? If you don't like it, don't read it it's as simple as that.
05:59 December 9, 2009 by bmck
It sarcasm - just a 'filler' article.

That is, until they run another story about an Iranian who makes documentary about how Iranian govt abuses dissenters - then claims asylum because she didn't realize that Iranian gov't abuses dissenters.

Still can't get over that one....
17:04 December 9, 2009 by Sharon Vida
Very interesting and funny story. I am an American who eats a simple breadfast early and then I am ravenous by 10am. I was glad to read that I am not the only person who is hungry for a second breakfast. Unfortunately, I have a desk job and eating anything more that a piece of fruit would add unwanted pounds.
17:21 December 9, 2009 by richard_vijay
Roger Boyes is a typical Island Monkey.One a Briton always a German hating Island Monkey.
18:40 December 9, 2009 by Al uk
FAO Lancahire lad regrding your comment on baked beans

20:02 December 9, 2009 by lordkorner
Baked beans do have a place in civilized society, on a slice of toast,best snack ever as long as the baked beans are Irish or British....
03:02 December 10, 2009 by Scottrocks9
You don't need to read this article if you have ever read another article by this phoney Schmarotzer(free-loader).The English have been known to produce great writers in the English languagebut this loser is not amongst them. The Local should rid itself of such third-rate people riding on an irrational prejudice against a society(Germany)that outdoes the English in everything.If this person can be paid for writing such rubbish month-in and month-out, or whatever his schedule is, well anybody can.
12:00 December 10, 2009 by debschen72
This is brilliant! I was LOLing so much when i read this article.
20:51 December 11, 2009 by Englishted
Life expectancy is longer in German?

I don't know but it seems like it.
21:23 December 11, 2009 by langohio
I never experienced the second breakfast the months I studied in or traveled through Germany, but our hosts (in the ex-GDR) did always lay out quite a buffet.

I never quite saw the attraction in spreading butter over sausage over bread to start the day. But then, in the States mayonnaise (do you call it "salad cream" in the UK?) has always been my favorite sandwich condiment, which I'm sure both Germans and Brits would find revolting.

And in America we also have a fleischsalat: it's called "corned beef salad" and you make a sandwich out of it. Sometimes it's prepared with mayonnaise, which really is the universal culinary solvent in American cuisine.
23:53 December 11, 2009 by Yontrop
I found the article unfunny and rude. I'm not German, nor do I think that many of the other posts here are from Germans. Most Germans would probable stop reading at the ¦quot;My Dear Krauts¦quot; line.

When I read the comment that the article was ¦quot;just a bit of fun¦quot; and everyone was taking it too seriously, I thought maybe I had missed something and went back and read it again. That was a mistake and just irritated me more. Satire is a harsh form of humor and only funny when the subject of ridicule deserves it. Roger Boyes does not understand this. I could go on to point out the factual errors in the piece and the false innuendos, but why should I take my time? I'm not getting paid for this.

Then I remembered that Boyes is the ¦quot;Times¦quot; correspondent in Berlin ­ a serious reporter who may be out of his element trying to write humor. So I did a short search to find something he had written for the Times for a British audience and came up with this:


Also not serious reporting. The last line brought me back to my thought about understanding satire.

¦quot;(Mr Levi) ...has successfully made films about Jewish themes and the latest, Alles auf Zucker (Everything With Sugar), mocked orthodox Jews visiting relatives in Germany.¦quot;

¦quot;Everything out of Sugar¦quot; would be a better translation, but the important mistake is that the film doesn't mock anyone. ¦quot;Pokes fun¦quot; and uses irony but ¦quot;mocking¦quot; is something else. Boyes does mock Gemans and I think the Times should rein him in.
05:57 December 12, 2009 by locally
Yesterday,Some guy found the damn Hitler's car,Today his Brekfast's recipe,tomorrow another damn unreasonable topic.

Sometimes I wonder if the Editors of Local can't find something reasonable to write from all the serious events going on daily around the world.

Still hoping to start reading something interesting on this site.
14:37 December 13, 2009 by mikethomas
Roger Boyes has omitted bacon from his English breakfast which shows he knows very little about his subject. I must also say that he behaves like a typical British ex-pat all over the world in that he hears about some local custom (probably

oudated) and stereotypes all local people. Finally a little hint to my German friends - I live in Berlin partly because of the much better food here in Berlin, but be aware that much of Roger's article was tongue in cheek - not to be taken too seriously.
23:53 December 13, 2009 by Andy_ed
I had to register just in order to comment on the article and some of the ludicrous coments made by Germans being typically German and not understanding "HUMOUR"!!!!

Come on please, have you never heard of "tongue in cheek"? And before all the German readers of The Local start jumping all over me, I have lived in Germany since 1974, I am married to a lovely German woman and enjoy life here. But one thing never fails to amaze me....the Germans refusal to find humour in anything other than an obscure english film played only on New Years Eve or Silvester...(what does that mean anyway) And an idiotic, middle aged man from Ostfriesland. And yes, I still have my tongue firmly placed inside my cheek.
01:15 December 15, 2009 by Scottrocks9
It has nothing to do with Germans not having humour or people being touchy and not understanding wit and sarcasm. It is simply that this 'humour' is of such low intelligence and so pretentious that I cannot even read this garbage. Anyway, to each their own, but this guy Boyes is a phony and it's just a matter of time before more discerning readers become aware of that. The Local should dump Boyes.
02:07 December 15, 2009 by Ed Tracey
(The priority) ..has to be to persuade the nation to eat the full English breakfast every morning. Scrambled or fried egg, baked beans, grilled tomato, two sausages, mushrooms, fried bread.

What? Shouldn't it be "eggs, bacon, Spam" or the all-time favorite, "Spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam?"
13:22 December 15, 2009 by Mike Jennings
What about the devilled kidneys?

and to Scottrock- I don't think the nation that invented haggis can criticise English cooking! Have a happy Hogmanay!

Cheers, Mike J.
19:18 December 15, 2009 by pumba
what kinda article is this?

21:52 December 16, 2009 by MrDee
As someone who is half German, I found this article to pretty darned funny. What's funnier are these comments. My wife always teases me when I start to act German, and I then realize I have to start laughing at myself. My mother always used to comment on how the Germans and the Japanese are similar in many ways. I just can't break that profound instinct to be on time otherwise I'll be late and that can't happen.
11:05 December 18, 2009 by Böse Unkölsch
All that any of this proves is that both the English and the Germans who have lobbed into this discussion are as petty and catty and unfunny and defensive as each other. In the Anglo-Germanic world I trust only the Irish and the Austrians!

Only one comment here was worth the time it took to type: "My dear Boyes, you have a point. What you don't have is a whole column."

And that includes my own comment, but a body must do something to pass the time before second breakfast. That leaves only the question of how to hasten the day towards Mittagspause. Hier liest mann Express.
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