It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the Germans are, on the whole, a very practical bunch.
Before I elaborate on this truth, I want to add a disclaimer. I know a lot of my German friends read my posts with a mixture of joy and trepidation, worried that I’m having fun at their expense, and yet secretly enjoying my observations on their culture. Please know, dearest lovers of Sauerkraut and leather shorts, that I love the German people and I am very proud to live in this wonderful country. I may moan about asparagus and laugh at people wearing socks and sandals, but the truth is, I watch Tatort on Sundays and own two pairs of Birkenstocks. I’m practically German myself.
Now back to the practicalities of my beloved adopted countrymen and women. Nothing, and I mean nothing, screams PRACTICALITY louder than German kitchen equipment. Allow me to prove it to you. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you exhibit number one……. The Egg Cooker. If you’re reading this and you’re German, I expect you’re nodding enthusiastically and you probably used yours this weekend. If you’re not German, then you’re merely thinking ‘What the hell is an egg cooker?’ Allow me to enlighten you.
You know when you wake up late on a Sunday morning and you fancy a lazy brekkie with a soft boiled egg and the Sunday Telegraph? You go through all that rigmarole of heating a pan of water for 150 years, carefully dropping in your egg, trying (and possibly failing) not to crack it, and then attempting to achieve the perfect cooking time with your mobile phone stopwatch whilst simultaneously checking Facebook. Finally you sit down with your buttered soldiers and a cup of Yorkshire Tea – only to discover that the bloody egg has somehow ended up hard boiled. We’ve all felt that crushing disappointment, right? You may choose to blame the fact that you scrolled through all 120 of Sara’s Ibiza photos and forgot the stopwatch, but the bottom line is that soft boiling an egg is a pain in the arse. Which is why, uninitiated friends, you need to get yourselves to Germany pronto and buy yourselves an egg cooker. It is, in essence, a little bath for your eggs which runs on mains power and cooks them to perfection – either hard, medium or soft. It’s a plug-and-play, failsafe and idiot-proof solution to an age-old problem, and after years of miserably scooping greying yolks out of over-boiled eggs, I think we can agree that it’s a genius invention. At last, you can scroll through Social Media without your breakfast paying the price.Exhibit number two is a household item that came into my life on my 29th birthday courtesy of my mother-in-law, a very lovely and stereotypically practical German lady. When I opened the parcel in excitement and saw Tupperware, a tiny part of my mind wailed ‘Tupperware? For my birthday? But I’m not even thirty yet!’ It then got worse as I unpacked the box. For my 29th birthday, my MIL sent me a Salad Spinner. Apparently these were quite en vogue in the 1980s, and indeed it seems that every good German household still owns one, but this was the year 2014 and I was living in London. I had no use for something than spins water off of iceberg lettuce – I was a professional connoisseur of Waitrose pre-washed bags of salad, thank you very much. I shoved the Tupperware monstrosity at the back of the highest cupboard in the kitchen and promptly forgot about it for two years. And then we moved to Germany. I was dismayed when, walking around my local supermarket, I realised that the huge selection of genetically-modified pre-prepared salads I was used to back home were replaced here by rows of lettuces, organic and fresh from the local field – with all the dirt that goes with it. Sheepishly, I dug the salad spinner out of the cupboard and apologised to it. I started using it in secret, ashamed to admit to my husband and to myself I had been wrong (and ungrateful). I’m rarely wrong, and this hurt. The salad spinner and I are at peace with one another now and I use it nearly every day, like a good German Hausfrau. Thanks a mill, MIL.
My third and final exhibit for today goes hand in hand with my post about Asparagus – which you should definitely read if you haven’t already. Yes, it’s the famous Spargeltopf. I’m sure this is an item produced and sold only in this country, because I just can’t see any other nation caring enough about asparagus to give up kitchen space to something that’s in use for eight weeks of the year. To be fair, after importing thousands of temporary Poles to the country to lovingly pick each stem of asparagus by hand from the ground, it’s probably blasphemous to cast it into a pan that all the lesser vegetables of the world have been cooked in. If asparagus is going to have special status, then it deserves a special pot, oder? And in true German style, it’s not any old pot either; it’s the most practical pot in the whole entire world for the specific purpose it’s been designed for. A Spargeltopf contains a special rack inside so the asparagus heads stay above the boiling water and can steam slowly without turning to mush. Only in Germany, folks.
So there you have it. Germans are the most practical people on the planet, and their kitchen equipment proves it. No German in their right mind would consider themselves worthy of their Reisepass if they didn’t have these basics. And who knows; maybe they’re on to something! Have you come across anything else to help my kitchen become more German? Let me know below!