Friday, September 9, 2011

Top 5 Ways to annoy a German

#5: Make 'em "Say something in German"
There is nothing worse than being put on the spot to blurt out some random German phrase for the amusement and entertainment of English speakers. At least give us something to translate. Even then it's awkward but at least we have a straw to hold on to. No matter what I would say otherwise, would please you. After I say the German phrase, Americans tend to be disappointed with my selection anyways. The only way to make your audience happy, is to include lots of throatal "ch" sound. That's really all they want to hear anyway. I always feel like some bizarre circus act, Hans the Bilingulist.

#4: Make 'em learn Geography
Almost every American has some sort of connection to Germany. A lot of members of the armed forces served over seas. They usually served at a base in some small German village nobody has ever heard of. Yet I am always expected to know all about it. Have I ever heard of Hinterstabholzingen? Probably not. So please don't look so sad when I don't know what you are talking about. What adds to the confusion is the fact some cities are just  pronounced weirdly by English speakers, so maybe I do know the place you are talking about, but I have no idea what you are saying.

#3: Bring up Hitler, Nazis and the World Wars 
Germans are taught to take anything Third Reich related very seriously. Whenever Nazis are brought up in Germany it usually is in a historical context that will lead to serious discussions. Therefore whenever Americans bring it up in joking matter it will make every German cringe.

#2: Mention Sauerkraut and Bratwurst a lot in conversation
Yes, Germans like sauerkraut and brats, but just because we eat that stuff, doesn't mean we want to talk about it 24/7. When I look at a vending machine trying to find a candy bar, I don't need snipe comments that I won't find any sauerkraut in there.

#1: Proclaim "German's love David Hasselhoff."
Yes, there was a time when The Hoff had a few hits in the Old Country. He sang "I've been looking for Freedom" during German Reunification. It fit at the time. If Germans had know that they'd be hassled about that for decades to come they would have gladly refused David's visa. Now we are stuck with a dark musical past and would like to move on, but you Americans won't let us. I looked it up on Youtube just to see how bad it really was, and it was even worse then I remember. So if you really want to annoy a German bring it up, but don't say I didn't warn you if you get a German evil stare.

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to get German television in the USA

One of the easiest ways of getting real German television into your home, is to subscribe to Dish Network. Dish provides several international programming options, one of which is a German one. Unfortunately the international channels are not included in the basic price. You have to pay extra for them. Once you are subscribed you'll be able to watch Deutsche Well, Euronews, German Kino Plus, My Sports Germany (a channel featuring full lenght sporting events), as well as Pro7Sat1 Welt. The package will cost you $29.99. According to Pro7Sat1 Welt, you are also able to receive their station through Verizon Fios TV, which is not available everywhere.
If you are lucky, some local PBS stations will carry some Deutsche Welle programming. Sometimes they will only carry the English speaking news programming though.
There are also plenty of Internet options when it comes to watching original German programming. First and foremost all of the German public tv stations have a great Internet video library. Here you can follow all your German soaps, news, and documentaries that air on ARD ( ZDF( In addition the WDR and other regional stations offer the same service with their programming. Looking at the private sector TV station it becomes a little fishy. Even though RTL offers internet video, most of their programming is region blocked in the US. If you are looking for German comedies outside the government tv stations you can find lots of them at . legally offers complete episodes of several comedies such as the German version of the office Stromberg and TV Total. It also features several German stand up comedians.
Another good option for German movies is Netflix. The online video rental service offers a large selection of German titles for rent or live streaming. Unfortunately the selection is rather one sided. Most of what they offer is World War 2 related. But you can find pretty much every movie Werner Herzog ever made, along with a large LGBT selection.
Last but not least, you can always go to Youtube. Good luck finding complete episodes there though.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Funny books about Germany

I always found it fascinating to see what other cultures think about your own. There are several books that concern Germany and its people. One of my favorites is Those Crazy Germans! A Lighthearted Guide to Germany. It's a really good read and well worth the money. It's quite funny to read about what foreigners think about us. Another good read is the Xenophobe's Guide to the Germans. This book also accomplishes the task of being informative and funny at the same time. Oh yeah, and while you're at it. There's also a guide to the Americans Xenophobe's Guide to the Americans.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kinder-Schokolade in the US

If you have a hankering for German style chocolate of the "Kinder" kind you should check out your local US Aldi grocery store. I have to say the mini chocolate bars you can get at the store are phenomenal. It is probably one of my favorite products they have. They are modeled after "Kinder Schokolade." I believe the original brand can not be found in the US, but lucky for us, Aldi has its own brand on the shelves. Let me describe what you get. The package comes with 11 (not 12 or 10) little chocolate bars. The chocolate covers a milky white creme filling that has a slight coconut milk taste to it. The fresher they are the better. Yes, and they do melt in your mouth. They are imported from the land of chocolate Germany, so you know they'll taste like the real thing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

German Food Myths Exposed

If you are going to a German restaurant these days, you will find several items on the menu that any American would consider essential German cuisine. Hence you will find these items on every menu in every German restaurant in America. Nobody ever thinks about that some of those menu choices are not even of German origin. Even though all of them are popular in Germany some them should be in the restaurants of other nationalities. Here's a list of German foods that are not really German.

Wiener Schnitzel: Schnitzel is probably considered THE most essential German food. Its origins point to a different country though. Actually it's a quite obvious one, since it's called "Wiener" schnitzel, Wien being the Austrian city of Vienna. Some even say, that the breaded cutlet dish actually originated in Milan, Italy and then was brought to Austria from there.

Goulash: It seems that every German restaurant has incorporated at least one form of Goulash in their menusm, either as a full meal or an appetizer. Goulash, if you don't know, is a beef stew made with onions and paprika. The dish actually originates from Hungary. The word itself is Hungarian for "herdsman."

Roulade: The roulade is a dish in which a slice of meat is rolled around a filling. Sometimes this dish is also considered Hungarian

German Chocolate Cake: German chocolate cake is not German at all. A clue might be, that it's made with coconuts and pecans. Neither one of those grow very well in the colder climate of central Europe. Wikipedia tells me that the reason it has the word German in the title has to do with the fact that it was first made with a sweet chocolate product created by an Englishman named Samuel German. Hence German Chocolate cake. The recipe itself was sent in to a newspaper in Dallas, TX.

Ragout: Often you will find at least a Chicken Ragout on a German menu. And again, ragout is stolen from a different culture. This time it's the French that gave us this meat stew.

Bratwurst: Just kidding. The Wurst is still as German as you can go, originating in the region Thuringia, in the eastern part of the country.

Now that you know where all these foods come, go check them out at your local German restaurant and pretend you've never heard of this article.

Monday, August 18, 2008

German DVD Store

I don't know if you have noticed, but I have added a little button to the top right hand corner of the blog. The "German DVD Store" button will take you straight to your one stop shop for all your German DVD needs in America. It is powered by Amazon, so you know you can trust them. It's just an easy way to find German movies in the US.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jungle Jim's International Market Grocery Store Cincinnati

Trying to find German products in the ailes of your local grocery store can be quite daunting. Of course there's always the World Market which does have a limited supply of German products (such as Teekanne tea and Bahlsen cookies) though the emphasize is definetly on "limited." Let me tell you about a place on the other hand that has huge selection of the products that you crave. That store is Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, Ohio (right outside Cincinnati). Not only do they have a large selection of German products, they have about 150.000 products from 75 countries. If you can't find it in their 300,000 square foot store, I doubt you can get it anywhere else in the US.
I don't consider Jungle Jim's a regular store. It is more or less set up like a theme park. It all starts in the parking lot, which has signage just like your about to park at Six Flags. Once you enter the store, you might be surprised by all the animatronics. My favorite section in the store is the British foods part. Their section looks like a part of Robin Hood's Sherwood forest. They have a talking Robin Hood up in the canopy. The products are arranged around the trunk of the tree. The vast hotsauce section is appropriately adorned by a fire engine. Everywhere you look you will find neat little animatronic displays. You'll find a singing cereal band and a rocking Elvis lion. The German section is rather plain but has huge selection of products you won't find anywhere else.
Going to the bathroom is an experience all by itself. Their bathroom was ranked best bathroom in America in 2007. It looks like a Portapotty on the outside but the plastic shell is just a facade for a pretty nice bathroom inside it. The first time I went I actually didn't go to the bathroom there, since I didn't know the Portapotty was just a front. I did find it strage though, that they didn't have real bathrooms. Now I know better.
So if you are ever in Cincinnati region and in the mood for adventure shopping, go check them out. They are located 5440 Dixie Hwy in Fairfield, Ohio and open 7 days a week. It's well worth the trip. Check 'em out at