March 17, 2011

As German as...

I'm baaaack, and, by request of some of you beautiful readers, more sarcastic than ever. Except for that last statement, where I was truthful, no sarcasm intended. You are beautiful :)

Today I want to talk about some common misconceptions that some people might have of Germany. You see, before I had ever had the chance to visit Deutschland I never really had the desire to travel here. Sorry German readers, I mean no offense, but it wasn't high on my list of 'must sees'. I am definitely more of a beachy kind of girl (I know it's hard, but read: beachy, not bitchy, k, thanks).

And before you start telling me that Germany has beaches too, I'll stop you. I know it does. But they are only warm enough for my Texas blood a handful of days out of the year. And the water is more than just a tiddy bit nipply. Brrrrr!

See, I have even been to one. Nice day...even with the ice cold water.

But you know what? That is ok. Germany isn't 'known' for its beaches. It is known for beer, sausage, pretzels, lederhosen, Mercedes Benz, David Hasselhoff...oh wait, he's ours.

With all of these iconic symbols, a lot of misconceptions get thrown into the mix as well. There are several things that us North Americans might call "German" or think come from German culture, but in fact have no real hard connection to Germany at all. 

And for a Texas girl, who never had German cuisine, had never been to Germany, knew no German, I had quite a few of these delusions in my head...that is, until I became such a badass German expert! Haha, wow, obviously just kidding. 

So, I'll try to straighten out some of these fallacies that I think are worth clarifying. And German readers, I would especially love to hear your feedback on this topic. Correct me if I am wrong on anything. I will only block you from blog for a little bit :)

First Offender:
Wiener Schnitzel
Sources (1, 2)

Well, I think the chain of gut rotting tasty hot dog huts causes this word to be confusing from the get-go. But Wiener schnitzel is not a hot dog or any kind of sausage. Rather, it is a thin cut of veal, breaded, and fried up to a deliciously crispy and juicy consistency. 

And it's origins aren't German. It is a traditional Austrian dish, although it is just as loved and served in Germany. Kind of like how us Texans think TexMex is our state food. 

Mmmmm fried goodness. Looks a lot like Chicken Fried Steak, doesn't it. (source)

The word Wiener (quit laughing) comes from the name of a person from Vienna, Austria. Wien being the German name for Vienna. Hmmm, that even makes it sound like those little Vienna Sausages in a can are that much more authentic! Yum, meat in a can.

Second Offender:
German Chocolate Cake

Oh, but I still love you and your gooey coconut frosting just the same! (source)

Nope, not German. Doesn't have anything to do with Germany. The dark baking chocolate used in the cake was developed by an Englishman by the name of Sam German for Baker's Chocolate. The first record of the recipe for German Chocolate Cake was printed in local Dallas, Texas newspaper in 1957. Baker's Chocolate took notice of the recipe's popularity and started distributing copies of the recipe with the dark baking squares. And from there it became a national America, not Germany. 

Black Forest Cake. Ya'll hungry yet?! (source)
Germans don't do too many cakes like we do back at home. But they do make one heck of a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or Black Forest Cake. Yum!

Third Offender:

Sauerkraut literally meaning "sour cabbage" (source)

Oh Sauerkraut. I never knew you could be soooo delicious until I came to Germany. For those of you who have never tried traditional German sauerkraut and have only eaten the nasty, out-of-the-can grossness at ball parks, I pity you. It is so, so good here.

But Sauerkraut, which is almost as synonymous with German culture as beer and wurst, did not originate in Germany. The Chinese were the first to cash in on this shredded cabbage staple.
Looks pretty darn good too! (source)

It is believed that Chinese laborers building the Great Wall of China over 2,000 years ago noshed on this goodness. It is thought to have been brought to Europe around 1000 years later by none other than Gengis Kahn. And that is when the western world took over and made it their own.

Fourth Offender:
The Swastika

Chart of swastika symbols throughout the world (source)

Now inescapable of it's Nazi past, the Swastika has actually been around for thousands of years. Earliest evidence of the symbol dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization and Classical Antiquity. It remains popular in religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It was popular even in Western culture until the 1930s when it became associated with Nazi Germany. 

This picture is no joke. The Edmonton Swastikas Hockey Team, 1916 (source)

Fifth Offender:
Polka Music

And the only cure is more cowbell! (source)

Ok, I admit, maybe this one was just my naive little self. But I had always thought of Polka as traditional German music. It was the sound of the tubas, accordions, and the 'oom-pa-pa' that always brought visions of Oktoberfest to mind. 

But Polka music, although popular in Germany, originated around the 19th century in the Czech Republic. The name comes from the Czech word for "Polish Girl", which is confusing enough already. So I will just stop there :)

Anyways, I hope that cleared up a few wrong ideas you might have had about "German" products. And if you knew them all already, eff off good for you, smarty pants!
See ya'll tomorrow for another edition of Frackin' Friday. Ohhh, can't wait to cuss some more in German!
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  1. This post is awesome! The only one that suprised me was the sauerkraut. Being half german i ALWAYS got called sauerkraut when i went to a British school in Germany.

  2. German Chocolate Cake ... Black Forest Cake ... "no matter" it flippin' delish! cute post :)

  3. Inspiring. I may steal. (side-eyes).

  4. Loved this post; have to admit that I was surprised as well about Sauerkraut especially with it being called "Liberty Cabbage", due to it's perceived German origins, during WWI.

    In any event, glad to see you back!


  5. Very interesting. It's funny how so many things are named in ways that have nothing to do with where they came from, or what they are. Great post!

  6. @Ponys - well thanks! I know, I was surprised about that one too. German sauerkraut is still the best though ;)
    @b.lee - I don't care what you call it, I will just be shoving it in my mouth anyways!
    @Mollie - go for it! I would love to see a British/English one!!
    @Patty - I thought about including that little bit too. I thought it was funny they called it that. You are always so sweet, thanks for the internet hugs :)
    @Debbie - well thanks! I tried :) It was interesting to research, that is for sure!

  7. Coolio Linds!! I just read this post to Teejmeister and he loves ya! We were laughing!!! And I agree with the sauerkraut. Totally nasty back home, but one of the girls here treated us to Christmas dinner here and we had the purple sauerkraut, it was absolutely delicious!!!

  8. Wiener Schnitzel - you sit on a throne of lies!!!! I'm so disappointed... ;)

    Speaking of - I walked past one of them yesterday on my way to Chipotle to get my super healthy salad of lettuce, beans and shredded pork when I saw that Wiener Schnitzel now has bacon wrapped hot dogs. I threw up a little in my mouth...

    hee hee


  9. Oh HM ICK!Bacon yuck

    Don't forget to mention the w makes a v sound here. Loved your list. Only reason I knew about Polka was my uncle

  10. There was women's hockey as far back as 1916?! Yeah Canada!

  11. I've never even heard of a hot dog called Weiner Schnitzel! We always eat at a German restaurant in New Braunfels and I love the food there. I'm sure it's not traditional, but I always go for the Chicken Schnitzel or potato pancakes (yum!).

  12. Epic fail, an old boyfriend used to buy sauerkraut in big bins and eat it straight out of them while watching football, you'd think it was PB. Just thinking about it makes me gag! Loving the cowbell reference. Hope your hubs kicked it hardcore the other night!

  13. @KY - well thank ya! I cleaned it up, it had some booboos. I am glad ya'll liked it though!! I didn't know I liked sauerkraut until this year, but I am in love now!
    @HM - hahaha, love your comment. Too funny. And that made me gag a little just reading. So gross.
    @Ms Sarah - i know, gross. Yes, I should have mentioned that. It is a Veener Schnitzel :)
    @Kara - heck yes they did. Only in Edmonton where there is nothing else to do :)
    @Heather - I have never heard of anyone call a hot dog a wiener schnitzel either. It is the name of that fast food place. Guess you haven't seen those. I bet NB has some great German/Austrian food!! Yum!
    @Morgan - ewww, bet he smelled good! hahaha wonder why you broke that one off. He did kick butt, they won. But only one win in the series, this playoff thing takes a while. Thanks for thinking of us though!

  14. Very educational post! I love good sauerkraut too, when I can get it :) My friend Anne and I used to go up to Alpine Village in California for German food and chocolate every year--good stuff!

    Have a great day!

  15. I never would put Germany & Beaches together! Lol I know I'm an idiot! German chocolate cake isn't german food?! Neither is sauerkraut?! Learn something new everday! In april we're going to be doing an international themed week and I love for you to do a post about Germany. If you're us


  16. Love this and I love sarcasm. This post really makes me hungry. I'm not going to lie, I love beer and brauts...all of this other fantastic food Germany has to offer is just icing on the cake! Prost!
    It's a week of giveaways on A Taste of T

  17. That's great! We lived in Denmark for the summer when I was 11 and we went to the beach there. The 'beach' consisted of a dock, jellyfish and dirty water. Oh, and a lot of naked people...who didn't shave. I'm more of a 'blue-water' gal! I finally posted your button on my blog roll...Love your site!
    :) marcy

  18. Sarcastic and funny! I love that :)
    Thank you for stopping by my blog and I'm your new friend :) Hope you're enjoying this week!
    I haven't posted in a while so that's my goal for today.
    Looking forward to more of your posts. Enjoy your upcoming weekend :D

  19. My eyes totally got glued on the Black Forest Cake. Yummy!

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

  20. @KT - well thanks! I try :) The legit stuff is literally mouth watering!
    @Jet-Setting - haha, don't worry, I like here and still don't think of it together. I am glad you learned something, even if it is rather useless :) And I emailed you about April, sounds great to me!
    @Tanya - haha, I knew you would. They do have some delish food over here, that is for sure.
    @Marcy - haha, that is totally what I think of here. Not that same as a Caribbean blue water beach for sure! Thanks for posting my button. Have to stop over and see yours too!
    @KellyAnn - What a really sweet comment, thank you Kelly-Ann! I am glad you stopped by then :)
    @Brownbugz - haha, quit licking the screen, will ya?! haha. Happy St. Patrick's Day to you too!

  21. Love this post - how couldn't I as a German in Texas :) I actually mentioned quite a few of these in a post a while ago about things that Texans think are German ( And I cannot believe that I forgot the worst offender WIENER SCHNITZEL!! Too funny!!

  22. So what actually "did" the Germans come up with?

  23. I can't believe with my combination German and Czech heritage that I didn't know polka's background- silly me! I didn't know about sauerkraut, either, but I always thought it was strange how similar it seemed to kimchee. Now it makes sense!
    This is a fun post, I love your "cultural facts" posts!

  24. haha..great post! Its like "Ripleys Believe it or not"!

  25. Thank you for this informative post! I would love to visit Germany someday.

    And thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you'll drop by again soon!

  26. Ok so ummm everything I thought was German is not? What the hay? Umm my favorite though:
    Beachy not bitchy, lol! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

  27. I bet the beaches there are similar to the beaches in Ireland...they are there and they are pretty...but brrrrrrrrr talk about freezing your bum off if ya get in that water!!!

  28. Nice list and as a German, I thank you for clearing up some of these misconceptions. I do think though, that it is not only the origin that makes a food "national", but also what is done with it. While it might be the Chinese who first fermented Cabbage, I think the way it has been used in German cuisine over centuries makes it a German ood in a way. I have never tasted Chinese sauerkraut, but I am pretty sure that German sauerkraut has become quite different from the original over time.

    Aaaaaaaaand there is one point that I actually object to in your post. From my own experience during the time when I lived in Texas, I have to say that we are a lot more creative and original when it comes to baking cakes than Americans are. All these cakes baked with candy..... in a way that always seems fake to me. Also... any country in which the birhtday cake loved by everyone is covered with disgusting oversweet frosting with fake colors and artificial taste is not good in appreciating real cake in my opinion.

    By the way.... I hope you realize I am being sarcastic as well ;-)

  29. Do you think if you mailed some Black Forest Cake to Idaho it would still be good when it got there? I'm not particularly interested in how it'd look, just that it wouldn't be moldy and would taste delicious. Just curious.

  30. Newest follower from the Fab Friends Thursday Blog Hop.
    Please stop by my blog and return the follow.
    Thanks! :)

  31. Cute blog...can't wait to read a fellow Texan! Found you through the blog hop - stop by if you get a minute. Thanks!

  32. @Sabrina - too cool! I have to go check out your site now...that I promise I did not copy, haha.
    @Marjory - Haha, you totally read my mind. I have that post coming up soon. In one word: Lots :)
    @Meri - oh Meri you made me feel so much better about myself. I thought I was the only one clueless about Polka, haha. Glad I could entertain with the useless but somewhat interesting facts!
    @Mrs K - haha, well thanks. I used to LOVE Ripleys!
    @Diana - You are welcome, and thanks for stopping by here!
    @Mac - coming from a German in Germany, that means a lot. Thanks!!
    @An Irish - haha, don't feel bad. I want you to do an Irish one!! Happy St. Patty's to you too!
    @Lesley - no kidding. They are pretty to look at, but no way am I getting in that water. Brrr.
    @Lutz - haha, your comment cracked me up. I mean no disrespect, and if it is any consolation, I LOVE German sauerkraut. It will always be my fave :) But, I also love the artificial, super sweet icing on cakes too. So we are at a tie!
    @Jordan - it would TOTALLY make it fine, haha. Actually maybe even make it more ooey and gooey. Yum! Maybe that could be my new business venture, haha

  33. Aww I love this! I didn't know some of this stuff myself. . . Boy lives right around the corner from one of those hot dog huts and I had to laugh out loud for a while when I first saw it, before it made me angry that it would spread such a misconception of the good good wiener schnitzel!

  34. @Sleppery - well thanks for stopping by!
    @Little Bitty - hey, always welcome Texas gals :) Need to head over to your blog too! Glad you came by.
    @Rebecca - Haha, yes! I stumped the German. You just made my day, lol, just kidding. I know, why did they name it that?!?! Too funny.

  35. Haha! I'm sure you didn't copy anything :) Your post includes more and is much better organized :) I enjoyed it!!

  36. The only thing 'German' I am familiar with is a German Mother in Law and I really don't recommend you go out and get yourself one. I tease my husband that he got me to marry him less than 5 months after our first date because he knew if I got to know his mom I would run far far away (but not to Germany).

  37. I had just discovered the Schnitzel one just 2 posts ago. haha.

  38. This was highly educational, and I appreciate it. But. That last line: the return of FRACKIN' FRIDAY??? For real??? Yee-haw!!

  39. You had me at beer.

    Then sausage.

    Actually, hubby's family is german, and I make kick butt wiener schnitzel. Not too shabby for an Irish italian in PA dutch country.

  40. Thanks for the edumacation! I also liked your post a while back "You do know German" or something like that. I like to learn about anything and everything. I guess that's why my trivial knowledge base is almost Jeopardy-worthy. Okay, maybe Junior Jeopardy.
    Jen Hemming and Hawing Again

  41. Well you know what Lindsey? I guess I wont be visiting you in Germany anytime soon since the main reason I wanted to go was the German chocolate...

    Seriously though, really interesting post!

  42. I cut a Black Forest cake on almost every birthday! And I made a Chicken Schnitzel recently so I did know that it was not a Hot Dog :D And yeah, the Swastika is an important part of Hinduism. It is one of the holy symbols. The Nazi Swastika is in the opposite direction of the Hindu Swastika though :)

  43. @Sabrina - haha, well thanks for cutting me some slack :)
    @Cake - Oh.My.Goodness, I am dying here. TOO funny. That is hilarious. I guess you get your daily dose of German more than you would like too!
    @Copyboy - I had no idea until I was here. It has the word wiener in it, so it must have been a hot dog, right!?
    @TriGirl - Well thanks, and you betcha. I am coming up with a good one right now :)
    @LovinAngels - haha, that is how I am always drawn in too. Yum!! You might have to share your secret recipe :)
    @HW - it misses you too! :)
    @Jen - Edumacation is guuud, haha. Well thanks, I am glad you liked both posts. And anything to get me that much closer to Jeopardy! Freakin' love that show!
    @Shalyn - awwww man. Not even for that yummy fried schnitzel, I think you would be a fan! Haha. Plus they put cheese on lots of stuff, I know you like that, lol. Thanks girl!
    @Apfel - Good to know! I did not realize that. I should go back and mention that. And spoiled you, having black forest cake for your birthday. Awesome. Have been missing ya around bloggyland!

  44. That was super interesting and educative, hope you do more like this one, breaking down the clichés is awesome, it happened the same to me since I came to the UK.

  45. Thanks for visiting Calamity Kate's Kitchen. Check it out, you have been featured in this weeks Friendly Friday.

  46. @Patti - well thanks Patti! Almost as good as your posts :) You should do one about the UK!
    @Kate - hey, thanks for letting me know, again. I linked back to your blog in last Sunday's post. :)

  47. German chocolate is nasty.
    Wiener Schnitzel's is not a good bargain.

    That's so interesting that it's against the law to make any kind of hand gesture to a fellow driver. I wonder if my grandma would be a felon.

  48. Found you on Homemaker today. I have to say that I LOVE your banner. It's adorable. I love sauerkraut, too.

  49. Log in for a laugh, leave with an education. I think my brain just grew.

  50. great post! when I was in the us no one wanted to believe me that there is no German chocolate cake in Germany :) this posting also reminds me of ur posting about "american products" in germany (which i liked too). cool stuff!

  51. How interesting!! My dad lived in Frankfurt for 2 year or so when I was in college and I visited him there. I thought Germany was such a beautiful country. I always wondered about German Chocolate Cake. You have some very interesting facts here!! I'm off to learn more about you! Kaho

  52. @Shanimal - AH! You bite your tongue, I love German chocolate! Haha. You grandma would for sure be in jail :)
    @Hines - so glad you stopped by, thanks for the compliment on my little men :)
    @Nicole - haha, YES! My mission in accomplished!!
    @Franzi - haha, they just don't understand, do they?! Thanks Franzi, you always have the nicest things to say.
    @Chuzai - It really is a beautiful country, that is for sure. I do enjoy our time here. Haha, glad I could clear that one up for you. Thanks for stopping by!

  53. Haha! Downunder here in OZ we know what a beach is!! And Black Forest cake has taken the world by storm!!

    Thanx for playing 'Round the World' again!!

  54. Wow, I didn't know that Black Forest came from Germany! It's one of my favorites, second only to double layer chocolate cake. And I'm reading this at 2am, so I got really hungry when I read your post! Nomnomnomnom :D

  55. @Red - No kidding, would love to see me some ozzie beaches :) You are welcome, I really enjoyed the hop last time!
    @Aleah - Haha, glad you liked it. Hope you had/will have some BF cake soon to remedy that craving! :)

  56. Wow, what a great post! I think the fortune cookie originated in California, not China ;) Who knew?

    Thank you for joining Post Of The Month Club! I hope you'll be there again in April :) XOL

  57. German Black Forest Cake with a few shots of schnapps is the best thing ever! :-)


  58. Not a first time visitor but calling by today from Happy Homemaker UK as participating in Post of the Month and really enjoying meeting everyone else and reading their favourite posts. Interesting topic. :)


Whoomp, there it is!