They are some of the most hurtful words you can say to a German, or someone of such stock.
And while they weren’t said directly to me, the hushed tones in which a fellow guest at a dinner party whispered to her date “I don’t like German food,” revealed that she knew their impact and she was trying to shield me from their harm.
I stared in disbelief that someone could actually feel that way about the food I grew up with; the food that brings me such joy, even if now I eschew much of it as a vegetarian. Whenever I travel to Germany, I boast with pride when I’m with my husband at a restaurant and read him the menu, suggesting the best morsels to get a taste for my ancestral land.
The dinner guest justified her decision about an entire nation’s cuisine by recalling a meal she had during a business trip to Frankfurt. It was a pork knuckle the size of her head on a plate garnished with a few pan-fried potatoes. To her, that heavy, fatty beast of a dinner was German food. To many, that is German food — the stereotypical sustenance of a country known for its other sweeping generalizations of being populated by an efficient, punctual, beer and Riesling-loving people with a knack for building great cars.
How could she not see that German cuisine was more nuanced and diverse than that? That yes, they can do pork and potatoes like it’s nobody’s business and give you enough to last a week, but they can also do morels and white asparagus in delicate cream sauce to make a person swoon? Or do up a salad plate that puts to shame our simple Caesars or iceberg wedges, even those gussied up with cheese and bacon. And don’t get between a German and his trout — oh the magic they work with their beloved Forelle. —Continue reading—