Food and Drink For Members

'Meat drowned in sauce': Germany's biggest food culture shocks for foreigners

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
'Meat drowned in sauce': Germany's biggest food culture shocks for foreigners
A particularly fancy 'Brotzeit' of breads, cheeses, meats and spreads at a restaurant in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Hörhager

From the ubiquity of bread to cold cuts (and meals), Local readers shared the biggest culinary culture shocks they experienced in Germany.


Bread time 

Many were amazed at how carb-heavy the cuisine is in Germany, with the last meal of the day, called Abendbrot (literally evening bread) often centred - not surprisingly - on a dish called Brotzeit (bread time), a platter of various breads, cheeses and cold cuts.

As a result, “I eat a lot more cheese, bread and sausage,” wrote Ghadi, 27, in Berlin. 

Anwar Donald George, 41, in Essen also noted how odd it is “having cold meals for both lunch and dinner.”

Another 44-year-old reader in Hamburg stated they were amazed by “the amount of bread options (which are delicious) and how much it is a major part of the culture.”

READ ALSO: Five delicious breads you have to try in Germany

Beer, beer, everywhere

Readers also noted that social life in the Bundesrepublik revolves around beer - but not necessarily the kind that will leave you wobbling out of the Kneipe (pub).

Various readers commented they were surprised by “how good the alcohol-free beer is” as well as how widespread Wegbier - beer you can take with you - has become.

READ ALSO: How alcohol-free beer is booming in Germany

People celebrating at Oktoberfest

Visitors hold up their glasses as they celebrate during the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich, on September 17, 2022.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

“I’m surprised that it’s possible to drink in the streets. In my country drinking alcohol like that is forbidden,” said Christian, 33, in Berlin.

“I was quite shocked when I arrived in Germany to find that alcohol, including beer, is sold at school sports events. In my home country, alcohol is never allowed at such events, and stores selling alcohol are not permitted within a radius of 500 meters from schools,” said Emerson P in Berlin.

Still, despite the ubiquity of alcohol, Germans normally know how to hold themselves together, noted some readers.

“Alcohol is available to purchase and consume almost anywhere and yet you rarely see hoards of drunken idiots parading and creating havoc,” said Germany traveller Steve, 58, who lives in Batemans Bay, Australia. 

“It’s totally different to Australia which has pretty strict alcohol sales and consumption rules and yet lots of intoxicated groups behaving badly is the norm especially Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.”


Meat-ing the Germans

While more and more Germans are embracing vegetarianism, readers still noted how Fleisch-filled the cuisine is. 

“I was shocked to find how the cuisine revolves around meat,” said Denny, 77, in Baden-Baden. 

“Most all main dishes are served with pork,” lamented Derald Preston, 56, in Vechelde, Lower Saxony.

Tom, 27, in Frankfurt noted all of the “raw meat on bread” but has not been convinced by the cultural delicacy. “I actually feel that I eat less meat since moving to Germany,” he said.

READ ALSO: Debate sizzles as meat eating hits new low in Germany

Practicality over enjoyment

Others felt that the Germans - unlike the French or Italians, for example - view food more pragmatically as fuel, rather than a delicacy to savour over a long lunch break and wine.

“I’m surprised by how utilitarian the approach to food is,” said Anders. 57, in Berlin’s Pankow district. “Unlike better developed food countries where food is part of local identity and something to be celebrated, in Germany you get the feeling it is but fuel to keep you getting on with what is really important (ie. work). Thanks Martin Luther”


“As an Indian, it took me a while to adjust to the relatively different approach to food philosophy of German food,” said Varun Arya, 36, in Freiburg. 

“That the food has to be looked at as components to be fed into the human machine, such as proteins, carbs, roughage, vitamins and (which) largely overlook the taste aspect of it was quite a shock and took some time to get used to.”

Saucy Germans

Others noted the amount of sauce and mayonnaise which Germans love to smother their foods in - even salads.

A plate of Currywurst and chips in Berlin.

A plate of Currywurst and chips in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

“For me a salad is fresh and it has greens, so it was a shock for me the first time I was invited to a Grill and was asked to bring a salad and I brought a fresh salad instead of Kartoffelsalat (potato salad),” wrote Yazmin. 41, in Solingen, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Orlando, 64, in Berlin was stunned by “the enormous amount of sauce used to drown meat in.”

Richard, 42, in Cologne noted that it’s “almost impossible to buy a sandwich without manky Remoulade on it.”

“Bratwurst is delicious but slathering it in a sweet ketchup sauce is revolting,” said John Pole, 75, in Kinheim, Rhineland-Palatinate.


Lack of ice cubes

Some cold drink lovers were surprised by the lack of ice cubes around, especially outside of the summer months.

“I’ve asked for ice cubes many times at cafes to be told they don’t have any,” said one anonymous reader.

They also noted that asking for ice cubes in a beer - similarly as is the case in countries like the US - is on par with committing a crime.

READ ALSO: 10 things I found shocking as an American after moving to Germany


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