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Pandemic reveals Germans' poor cooking skills

Jenipher Camino Gonzalez
April 24, 2020

Germans reliance on fast food and pre-cooked meals has left them with limited culinary skills when they need them most, a food industry group said. But Germans are flocking to supermarkets and rediscovering cookbooks.

Noodles sticking out of a too small pot
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Nolte

The Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE) said the coronavirus pandemic has exposed poor cooking skills among Germans. 

"We've known for years that cooking competence has drastically declined in Germany," BVE General Manager Christoph Minhoff told the DPA news agency. 

But with social distancing closing restaurants and keeping residents off the streets, Germans have flocked to grocery stores and gotten back in the kitchen. 

"People are rather dramatically forced to rely on their own culinary skills now that the offerings of fast-food restaurants, French fries stands and the Italian restaurant around the corner are not an option," said Minhoff.  

"Now people stand in supermarkets and ask themselves, 'OK how do I make a burger myself?'" Minhoff added.  

Read more: East Germans drink more alcohol, eat better

Can't cook and the frozen food section is empty

He said this phenomenon helped explain the shortage of certain products in supermarkets in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis. 

The BVE chief argued that many people have grown accustomed to eating pre-prepared food, from fast-food restaurants, cafeterias or bakeries, due to Germany's work-intensive society. 

Earlier this month, two German magazine publishers told dpa that they had registered increased demand for cooking publications, especially those sold directly at supermarkets, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Bread and a knife on a cutting board
Ingredients for bread have been hard to come by in German supermarketsImage: Imago Images

Flour in high demand 

The popular online cooking platform "Chefkoch.de" also registered increased traffic, according to dpa.

"The traffic we have received has reached numbers that we typically register during the Christmas season, the busiest time of the year," said Arne Wolter, Chief Digital Officer of Gruner + Jahr, the publishing company behind Chefkoch.  

Read more: Sourdough yeast: Fungi of life and yummy bread

Among the most viewed recipes on Chefkoch were pancakes and bread, but also pizza dough, cheesecake and lasagna, the company told dpa. 

Even as bakeries in Germany remained open, flour and yeast shortages also became commonplace during coronavirus lockdown. Last month, during the first two weeks of Germany's lockdown, demand for flour rose by 200% and bread mixes saw a spike of 330%. 

Germans were also bought pasta and rice in droves, with those products seeing a rise in demand of 170% and 179%, respectively. By comparison, the spike in toilet paper demand was below all of these items, at 118%. 

"Anything that could last a long time and is also as easy as possible to cook is now in demand," said Minhoff. 

Read more: Coronavirus: Pizza-loving Italians blow their dough on dough

The BVE chief said he hopes that the coronavirus times helps Germans gain more appreciation for home-cooked meals. 

"When you experience how much work goes into creating a balanced and tasty meal, you can get a whole new approach," Minhoff said.

How to make Bavarian bread dumplings

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