I think no one can deny the fact that living abroad changes you. From simple things like what you eat and drink to the way you think and behave in certain situations, there are lots of changes that you might not even notice at first. Recently I’ve been reflecting on the changes that happened to me since I moved to Germany almost 2 years ago. I started to realize that my eating and drinking habits changed a lot. When I first came to Germany, I lived as au pair with the German family. Later I moved to the hostel to work and didn’t have to think about cooking because the meals where included. This gave me a chance to get a glimpse into what people in Germany really eat and drink.
1. Bread, bread, bread
We actually eat a lot of bread in Ukraine. Bread is considered one of the basic foods and many people eat it every day but it was not a case for me. I would eat bread sometimes but I didn’t like it so much, Before moving to Germany I didn’t even know that Germany was such a ” bread country”. So when I first walked into a German bakery, I was surprised how many varieties of bread they had! And it is not just Bretzels 🙂 Apparently, there are around 300 different sorts of bread in Germany. Slowly I also fell in love with bread. Now almost every day my day starts with bread and I even eating bread for dinner (Abendbrot) doesn’t feel weird anymore.
2. Mixing juice with sparkling water
In Ukraine, we either drink pure juice or we drink water. I heard about Saftshorle (fruit juice with sparkling water) before but honestly, mixing juice with sparkling water seemed weird to me at first. Why would you even do that instead of just drinking juice? But after a short time, I not only started liking it, I became slightly obsessed with it. There is nothing more refreshing than an Apfelshorle (apple juice mixed with sparkling water) on the hot summer day. And I don’t understand how I drunk pure juice before, it seems way too sweet for me now!
3. Mixing wine with sparkling water
Similar to Saftshorle, German people mix wine with sparkling water. My first thought when I heard about this was: Why would you waste wine like this? Now Weissweinshorle (white wine with sparkling water) is my drink to go on the hot summer days.
4. Mixing beer with lemonade
I never loved beer until I discovered Radler. Radler is beer mixed with sparkling lemonade. It comes in different variations and under different names in Germany and other German-speaking countries. Radler contains less alcohol than a normal beer and tastes more sweet wich makes it a perfect drink for people like me who don’t like the real beer taste.
5. Coffee and cake
The German tradition of coffee and cake is something I love and hate at the same time. When you meet for coffee or are invited for a coffee to someone’s house, you can expect a cake or some other sweets also to be there. It is very hard for me to say no to the cake, so imagine how many of them I ate in the last 2 years. I also noticed that many German people like to have a coffee break 1-2 hours after lunch and don’t mind having a coffee break even at 16 pm.
6. Coffee with milk
In Ukraine, I used to drink coffee without milk because this is how my family did it. I loved the taste of black coffee and didn’t feel any need to add milk or sugar to it. But my host family in Germany would normally drink coffee with milk, so I decided to try it too and there was impossible to go back. I eventually tried to drink black coffee again, but the taste seemed not so good as before. I don’t know if it is a coincidence but 8 out of 10 Germans I know drink coffee with milk. I would love to see some statistics to confirm my observation but can’t find anything on Google.
7. Ice cream all year around
People eating ice cream on the street in winter? Two years ago I would call them crazy. In Ukraine, ice cream is a typical summer dessert and while you can find it in shops al year round, it is not sold on streets in winter. And even at home, people tend to eat it mostly during the warm months. But in the hostel where I work, we have ice cream for a dessert all year round and many shops don’t stop selling it in winter. I saw people eating ice cream on the street on the warmer winter days but maybe it is because in Freiburg winter is quite mild.
8. Going crazy over Spargel
There is probably no other vegetable Germans love more than white asparagus. There is this time of the year between the end of April and the end of June when a large part of German population gets obsessed with white asparagus. And I haven’t been an exception ever since I tried it. Honestly, I can’t even properly explain why I like it. The vegetable itself doesn’t have a special taste but for some unexplainable reason, I could eat it every day served with potatoes, ham and hollandaise sauce.
9. Drinking tap water
The quality of water in Ukraine is nothing to compare to the water in Germany. I heard that you can drink tap water practically everywhere in Germany, but I was still a bit suspicious at first. Maybe it is safe but what about the taste? Finally, I gave up and admitted that tap water and bottled water usually don’t differ that much in the taste.
10. International food
Living in Germany was a great chance for me to discover not only the German food but also other international cuisines. I feel that in Germany the choice of international food is much bigger than in Ukraine. At home, if we went out with friends, we would usually head for pizza or sushi. But in Germany, the choice is not so easy because you have Italian, Greek, Turkish, German, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Thai and so on. Even in the hostel, the menu is quite varied. We have Italian pasta or lasagna one day, German Wurst next, Greek Gyros another day and even some Asian noodles from time to time.
Did you notice picking up some drinking or eating habits after living or traveling abroad?
What were the weirdest drinks and dishes that you have seen in a foreign country?