Grey bread, butter, cold cuts, pickles: the cliché of the German dinner.
But the cultural change is clearly visible. Is the classic supper dying out after a hundred years?
In Germany, "Abendbrot" is often referred to as the evening meal. It is eaten between 5 and 7 pm. This is also how Germany travel guides and books on German as a foreign language explain it. But in the modern working world and the globalised era of the low-carb dinner, i.e. the recommendation of many nutrition experts to eat low-carb in the evening: The meal of slices of bread with cold cuts may be dying out. Is it the end of the cold cuts?
In countries like Spain and Greece, where Germans like to holiday, people usually eat warm in the evening - and later than in this country. Bread with sausage and cheese is considered a starter at best and not a full meal that is finished in time for the evening news on TV.
Cold supper as a custom of the 1920s
According to cultural scholars, the German custom of eating cold in the evening dates back to the 1920s. At that time, the demands changed - in contrast to the more agricultural structures in countries like Italy and France. Canteens were increasingly common in factories. Those who dined there at lunchtime often no longer wanted a hot meal in the evening. As work became less physically demanding thanks to mechanisation, many people preferred a lighter meal in the evening: bread, sausage, cheese, a bit of raw vegetables, done.
The evening meal became even more popular after the war.
At that time, the number of working women also increased. The quickly prepared evening meal became a tradition in many families. By the way, the evening snacks were never boring. Germany is known to be proud of hundreds of types of bread and sausages, often decorated with gherkins, radishes or hard-boiled eggs.
German recipes vary from north to south, from west to east
For almost every region there are typical German recipes that become specialties. Thus, the spectrum for fish dishes at the sea to hearty delicacies from the Alpine region.
In addition to bread for breakfast and dinner, people in Germany traditionally eat meat, vegetables and potatoes as a hot meal at lunchtime. The meat can be, for example, a schnitzel or roast. It comes mainly from pork.
Potatoes used to be available mainly as boiled and jacket potatoes. Fried potatoes, mashed potatoes or dumplings are also typical side dishes today, as are, of course, Pommes. Rice and Spätzle, or noodles, are also popular.
Classic German vegetables are cauliflower, beans, cucumbers, carrots and peas. Today, tomatoes or broccoli are also often found on the plate. In early summer asparagus is delicious, in winter Brussels sprouts and kale.
Abroad, the typical German food is considered to be bratwurst with sauerkraut and fried potatoes. However, German food has changed a lot in the last 50 years. People who moved to Germany from abroad also brought their dishes with them. Pizza and pasta are just as common in our country today as kebabs, gyros or sushi.
But German food is also diverse in varieties of bread, cheese, sausage and dairy products. Not to forget sweets such as cakes, pies and other pastries. Seasoning is mainly with salt and onions, plus herbs such as parsley and chives.
Morning, noon, evening
For breakfast there is classic bread, toast or rolls with butter and jam, honey or chocolate cream, but also cheese or sausage. However, many Germans also eat cornflakes or muesli for breakfast. In addition, there is a hot drink such as coffee, tea, milk or cocoa. Especially on weekends, a breakfast egg tastes good with it.
Traditionally, the main meal is taken at noon and eaten warm. In the evening there is the supper, which is actually bread. This is accompanied by sausage and cheese. However, many families now also eat warm in the evening. At noon, the adults are at work and the children often come home in the afternoon.
What do German emigrants miss most? The brown bread! Oh, yes!
You can't buy that in other countries. In Germany, a great many types of bread are baked. In addition to brown bread, there is mainly grey bread. But white bread is also available. The lye pastry originates from southern Germany, but is now also offered everywhere in the north.
Roast pork and meatballs
Even if hearty meat dishes are no longer as trendy as they were 50 years ago, Germans still like to eat meat and sausage. Most of it comes from pork, at 60 percent. Poultry is eaten at 20 percent and beef at 15 percent. Typical dishes include roast pork, meatballs made from minced meat, schnitzel, cutlets, roulades, goulash and sausages such as bratwurst, bockwurst and currywurst.
Salmon and trout
Fish is not eaten as much as meat, but is still popular on the plate. Traditionally, people always ate fish on Fridays. Some families still maintain this tradition. Alaskan pollock, walleye, carp and trout are gladly eaten. Salmon, herring and tuna also often end up on the plate.
Within Germany, however, there are also many regional specialties. In the northwest, for example, people like to eat Labskaus, in Baden they enjoy Schäufele, and in Swabia Flädlesuppe. From Dresden comes the Eierschecke, from Hamburg the Franzbrötchen and in the Rhineland tastes the "halve Hahn".
In the meantime, many things have spread beyond their region of origin, such as the Black Forest cake, which is enjoyed throughout Germany (although its origin is not entirely clear).
Fast food, organic or vegan?
On the one hand, the knowledge about the fresh preparation of food is often lost. People prefer to order a pizza or get a hamburger and fries from the nearest burger chain. This is not very healthy and leads to many people being overweight.
On the other hand, there are also more and more people, especially young people, who want to eat fresh and healthy ingredients. They shop in organic stores or eat a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Pizza, pasta and co
With the Italians who once came to work in Germany, the first Italian ice cream parlors and restaurants soon opened. The first ice cream parlor is said to have existed as early as 1799. It was opened in the Alsterpavillon in Hamburg, but by a Frenchman. In any case, the ice cream parlors and restaurants with Italian food and drinks are still very popular today.
Want to know more about German cuisine?
Why don't you book one of our group courses? You will learn German grammar and pronunciation but an important part of learning German is also getting to know the culture of the country and food is a big part of that.