A lot of international people have often asked me, “Don’t you miss your food back home a lot?”
I feel like saying, “You mean, do I miss anything other than pork and potatoes? Yes I do.”
I really do. If there’s one thing I am certain of it is that that food is not in my top things I love about Germany.
I’m yet to meet a foreigner who would say the same. Definitely not one from the eastern part of die Welt(The World).
Here’s my take on the top differences between German & Indian cuisine
Variety, Variety, Variety!
As an Indian, I’ve been raised for a healthy respect for food experimentation and spoiled for choices, given there are maybe thousands of dishes or even more that can be had in India. All sorts of mixes of spices, herbs, vegetables and meat. You name it and you can find it in some part of India. Maybe on the top of a Himalayan peak, or in the desert in the West or in a small village in the backwaters of Kerala, but find it you will. I find the lack of good food variety genuinely disappointing in Germany, even though I had embraced myself for this whilst I was contemplating the decision to move. A lot, and by this I mean a LOT of main stream dishes are made from pork and potatoes in different permutations and combinations. It’s too bad I wasn’t raised eating too much of pork, and hence you can imagine my lack of enthusiasm for German food.
Spices, Wo bist Du?
If I try to look for the spiciest meal I had in Germany, I would probably say it was a Turkish doner mit extra Scharf(with extra spice). And even that wasn’t too satisfying. While Turkish food might come close to using a lot of similar spices, the concoction and pattern is certainly different from Indian food. It’s not so much that Indian food is always spicy and hot, just the form in which they are cooked makes them so satisfying. It’s always awkward when I eat in restaurants, cause I’m always adding a lot of extra salt and pepper like a maniac to feel something, anything whilst I eat the food.
Klein oder Große?
Indian food portions would certainly be Klein(small) when compared to a regular German portion size which is most certainly sehr Große(very large) for me. If I sit down for a dish with a serving of meat and sides, I’m almost 90% certain that I can’t finish more than 60% of this, unless I haven’t eaten for two days straight. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if the portion was for normal humans or giants. I quickly realized it was the former. I have also been told that a lot of Germans eat only one big meal a day which would explain the portion size. Indians are used to eating a lot of mini meals or snacks in between the breakfast/lunch/dinner routine. We also have a lot of tea breaks. Tea to Indians is what coffee is to Germans and usually accompanied with a small snack as well. Growing up in India has psychologically impaired me for ever being able to finish a whole German portion by myself. I just can’t. Perhaps in 2 years, we’ll review this. If the review has changed, I might have turned into a pig myself at that point.
Vegetarian Vs Non Vegetarian
Need I say more? Germans, like other Europeans eat an insane amount of meat. I find it hard to get used to this, since back at home, I’d limit meat intake to twice or maybe thrice a week. We as Indians, simply have a lot more vegetarian options to chose from and prefer eating it as well. The idea of eating meat for my breakfast, is still rather strange for me. Of course the cold weather, definitely makes meat a better staple food than lets say vegetables, but given a few years I’m pretty sure I’ll be consuming a lot more meat as well. I, for one certainly don’t want to turn into a vegetarian night-walker here in the cold, dark and grey German winter.
Brotchen/Baguette VS Roti/Paratha/Appam
Our bread is extremely extremely different to the typical German bread intake. I think it has a lot to do with the type of food it accompanies and the way it is eaten as well. I can’t imagine Brotchen going well with a typical Indian curry and Roti for a traditional Bavarian dish. I have to say though, I actually really do appreciate German bread. It doesn’t come close to French bread (no bread in the world does), but it’s certainly not bad either. I am already getting used to eating a lot of different types of local bread here, and I certainly do enjoy mixing up my dishes.
All said and done, both the cuisines have their merits and demerits. I often make strange dishes which turn out to be a mix of Indo-Western food, and sometimes I’m surprised by how good it is. Often times however, it’s not really edible.
But such is life, isn’t it?