I’ve never considered myself a picky eater, but finding food here in Germany that I actually want to eat has proved to be a bit challenging. I was a little surprised by the lack of choices that are available; I honestly expected a lot more fast food, like at home. However, this is not the case, even in the larger cities.
When I stayed in Stuttgart alone, finding food was difficult. My first time in a supermarket was confusing because there aren’t isles of frozen food that can be made quickly, but most everything you must make from fresh food. Therefore, I stuck to something simple: spaghetti. Here’s a picture of my really simple meal, but finding regular noodles in the neighborhood market was difficult. A lot of foods aren’t clearly labeled or don’t have pictures, so I had to read everything. I felt like this took a long time to find ingredients, but nevertheless, I made my spaghetti.
I also experienced my first German restaurant in Stuttgart. Instead of being seated by a hostess, you typically just sit wherever you like. In some restaurants at busy times, I even had another person or two sit at my table. The waiter or waitress will eventually get to you, but it may take a while. Eventually, you will get a menu and order. After you’re done, you have to hail your waiter and ask for the check. This made me feel especially awkward since I was always told never to call over your waiter. However, Germany is definitely not known for its customer service. Then if you want to tip, it’s typically 1-2 EUROS and handed directly to the server, not left on the table. Learning how to navigate restaurants was difficult since there’s no signs or no one to tell you what to do. I had to read a lot online and had to get used to people speaking to me in very angry German.
Here’s one of my meals at Wilhelma, the zoo in Stuttgart. The large dumplings are Maultaschen; they’re stuffed with beef and vegetables. This has become one of my favorite meals, but this picture was the first time I had eaten them. Then, there are carrots and currywurst. Currywurst is typically sliced into smaller pieces and served with a sauce made of ketchup and curry. I was worried I wouldn’t like the sauce, so mine was plain.
Breakfast with my host family includes 2 pieces of bread with Nutella or jam and coffee or tea. This doesn’t seem like much, but Germans typically eat light breakfasts and large lunches. The Tubingen program offered multiple meal plans options, but everyone in my program chose half-board, which includes breakfast and dinner with a host family. Therefore, we all buy our lunches in town. Then, for dinner my family typically makes food that both my Italian house mates and I will like: pasta, pizza, soup, and sometimes Maultaschen (a specialty of Baden-Wurttemberg).
In Tubingen, things are easier since it’s a smaller town and because I’ve been here for a few weeks now. I’ve eaten mainly pasta, pizza, and fries. There are plenty of Italian restaurants to choose from, so I feel like I eat pasta for multiple meals per week. One of our favorites is Al Dente, where the server knows our order and favorite wine. For me, it’s Salmon Farfalle.
We’ve also found a Mexican restaurant we enjoy (El Chico) and a restaurant that serves Jamaican food (Bongo Roots). There are also Kebab kiosks on every corner, and these are really good for a quick bite. Here’s a Doner Box (my go-to). It’s got lamb, fries or rice, and a sweet sauce (similar to sour cream). It sounds a little weird, and I was hesitant to try it at first. Now it’s one of my favorite meals! It’s also only 4 EUROS, so that’s a plus.
For dessert, I love the Italian ice. This is from my favorite ice shop in Tubingen, and I’ve gone just about every week. (You have to reward yourself, right?)
Anyways, I’ve found food here a little difficult since I’m not used to eating a lot of pork or heavy meals. Almost every meal is served with bread or a sauce. Also, you can forget about ice in drinks (I’m still not over this). I’m still getting used to it, but trying new foods has been extremely rewarding!