10 things you won't find at a German grill party
Want to grill like a German? Then bury your clichés. Germans probably don't throw BBQ parties like you think they do. Here are 10 things to stay clear of when throwing the perfect German grill party.
If hamburgers come to mind when you think of barbecuing, then think again. The beef patties may be named after a northern German city, but rather than a hamburger you'll catch a whiff of all kinds of sizzling sausage and every cut of pork on a German BBQ. Don't worry, though. If you're craving a classic burger, you'll find a McDonald's in every German city.
Even though Germans are so big on grilled sausage, they don't put them in buns. Well, not exactly. If you buy a grilled sausage at a street-side stand, you'll get it in a round bread roll with the Wurst hanging out inconveniently on either end. At grill parties, though, the sausage is usually served naked and eaten with a fork and knife - not with your hands.
Ok, of course Germans eat ketchup at their grill parties - but not just any old ketchup. More common than the standard tomato variety is curry ketchup. It's practically the most important ingredient at any BBQ shindig and can be readily paired with any meat from bratwurst to chicken. A popular thing to do is mix ketchup with mayonnaise to create a sauce referred to as "red-white" or "gate."
With roughly 93 percent of German owning a BBQ, it seems that grilling is truly a national pastime here. According to a recent survey, more than two in three German barbecue owners chose a charcoal grill, while less than half prefer a gas model. Charcoal is sooty and slower to fire up, but also cheaper. It's kept up its manly, authentic image despite some gourmets resorting to gas.
From Texas to Argentina, barbecuing isn't a spontaneous weeknight whim, but something that takes hours, even days. And the resulting pulled pork or spare ribs really taste like it. Nope, in Germany, waiting for the coals to get hot takes long enough. Since a typical sausage is charred in around five minutes, Germans are pros in speed grilling. We're hungry! So, guten Appetit.
The stereotype is that Germans eat sauerkraut for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While sauerkraut may be a traditional side dish, it is almost exclusively found in southern Germany. There, it is eaten with all kinds of large, fatty chunks of meat, as well as sausage, but typically in cozy winter settings. It would be embarrassingly out of place at an outdoor summer BBQ party.
Indeed, times are changing and more and more healthy alternatives to fatty bratwurst and pork strips are making their way onto German grills. Neverthless, at a German grill party it's still common to find meat even in the side dishes, from bologna in the pasta salad to ham in the potato salad. True vegetarians should bring their own - or have lots of practice in picking out the meat products.
Germany is world-famous for its excellent varieties of dark bread. Germans love their own bread so much that they eat it for breakfast and a light dinner (which is fittingly known as "bread time"). But you won't find the whole-grain stuff at grill parties. There, Germans indulge in the bleached white varieties beloved by their European neighbors, like French baguette and Turkish flat bread.
Everyone knows that Germans like to drink beer. But not just any beer. Not, for example, the beer from the next city over. Each region, city or even village has its own specialty. You'll only find Kölsch in Cologne (don't dare drink it in Dusseldorf!), Astra in Hamburg and Fiege in Bochum. So when you're at a German BBQ, you'll have to drink the local brew - but at least there'll be plenty of it!
Germany has rightfully earned its reputation as home of the world's best cakes and tortes. Those with a sweet tooth might be tempted to bring some Black Forest Gateau to every party. But no, these caloric creations are reserved for afternoon coffee and cake time. After dinner, Germans refrain from dessert or go light. Grill parties are often rounded off with a dish of yogurt and fruit.