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Food and Drink: Did You Know?

Oktoberfest

Munich’s Oktoberfest (which actually takes place at the end of September) is the world’s largest public festival; for two weeks, over six million visitors drink 7.3 million liters of beer—enough to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools. Germany ranks third in per capita beer consumption, behind the Czech Republic and Austria. 

Mahlzeit

From around 11am to 2pm every weekday, colleagues greet each other at work with the word Mahlzeit, which literally means “mealtime.” At this time of the day, it means both “hello” and “enjoy your lunch.”

Sharing a Table

When dining at a restaurant in Germany, patrons choose their own table as restaurants rarely employ hostesses. If the restaurant is full, don’t be surprised if another party sits down at the empty seats at your table. A quick nod might be exchanged, but socializing with your “table crashers” is not expected. When tipping, Germans usually just round up to an even number, making it easier to pay in cash as credit cards are not widely accepted at restaurants.

Paying the Bill

When it comes to paying the bill, if your dining partner says, “Sie sind eingeladen” (you are invited), this means that he or she will pay your portion of the bill. To save a friend embarrassment or confusion, the person who is eingeladen should not insist on paying and just say “danke schön.”

Home-based Dining

Germans eat two-thirds of their meals at home though eating meals on the go and in restaurants is becoming more common, particularly in urban areas. Still, grocery stores are an important part of everyday life, and most people grocery shop several times per week, if not every day. The preference is for fresh ingredients, and more practically, refrigerators are small and often do not include a freezer. At the grocery store, the lines are long but move fast, and you are expected to pack your own groceries—quickly—and pay promptly to avoid holding up the line.

Fairy-Tale Foods

Grimm’s fairy tales are testament to several traditional German foods, including the gingerbread (Lebkuchen) house in Hansel and Gretel, the pot that makes endless amounts of sweet breakfast porridge in “The Magic Porridge Pot,” and the cake and wine brought to the grandmother in “Little Red Riding Hood.”