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My food stories: Lost in translation in Germany

O, I totally got lost in translation in Germany, lots of funny stories happened, I have got to share with you. :))

This was my first time really visiting Germany, I mean, apart from a few times ‘passing by’ at the airports. I thought I had completely given my heart to the Mediterranean sun, but have to admit that I enjoyed so much the time in Germany, even if it was  quiet, super quiet — everywhere. :)) — Noon, in the city centre, in the shopping mall, at the train station, there were many many people, but, quiet, very quiet, people all talked in very low voices; there even was no background in many shops and shopping malls — make you feel suddenly, you have all the space for yourself, your mind could fly as high as it likes. Me, as Chinese, ha… you can imagine, what a great experience to visit a country where people do not speak aloud.

Well, not speaking — there is another reason — I cannot speak German. :( So here are funny stories.

I was told that ‘Nordsee’ is a popular restaurant / fast food for German style ‘fish and chips’, so I went there for a late lunch. I was not very hungry though, just thought I would need a small bite.

When it was my turn, a very smily guy was about to take my order, I opened my mouth, wanted to say ‘fish burger’, then realized that I did not know how to say ‘Fish’ and ‘Burger’ in German. I tried to use my finger pointing out the item on the menu, but could not find it. And all the noise I could make was, ‘err….’.

I guess ‘fish and chips’ must be their most popular order, so he asked me, ‘fish and chips?’

I wanted to say no, but… I did not know how to continue the sentence if I still wanted to order something else. So I nodded, said, ‘ok’, and handed over the money.

He then pointed to a picture with ‘Coca-Cola’ on it, asked me, ‘drink?’ Yes, I was thirsty, so I nodded again, ‘OK’.

‘Coca-cola’? He asked. No, I don’t really drink coca at all. When I opened my mouth wanted to say ‘no, water, please’ — I heard myself said, ‘OK’, and nodded — because I don’t know how to say ‘water’. —

He nicely handed over a cup of Coca-cola, and I drank my first Coca-cola in many many years. Ha…

* * * * * *

Typical Korean rice dish

I had passed a shop a few times with big Korean words on the sign saying ‘Korean food’, I knew it because the characters in the shop were written in traditional Chinese, well, as well as in German. :) Suddenly my desire for Korean noodles started hunting me. So the next day, after breakfast at 9, I decided to go for a walk, and would end up at the Korean shop to buy some noodles for my lunch.

The lovely, typical Korean couple were having a meal when I entered. I tried to communicate with them, but… Before paying, I noticed that there was a ‘small kitchen’ at the front corner, and a couple of small tables. I was so excited – they probably would serve fresh noodles! So I turned around, asked the guy in English, ‘Do you do take-aways’? He nodded, and showed me the menus, which was just above my head. I guess ‘take-away’ must be a ‘universal word’. With very strong accent, I understood that he wanted to recommend me the ‘specials’.

I took a look, tried so hard to find some words similar to English that I could understand, then said, ‘could I have the vegetarian meal then, with tofu, as I don’t really eat meat?’

He shook his head, kept on saying ‘no, no good’.

‘No good? Why?’, I was surprised.

‘No, no good’. He kept on saying, and kept on shaking his head. Then, pointed at the table next to him with some words I could not understand.

Somehow, I understood that he meant it was not good for taking away, and I should eat there. — But it was only half past 11am, I just finished my breakfast less than 3 hours ago! I really wanted to ask if I could change to something else, so I could take it away, or come back later, but I found myself smiled, nodded, and went to sit at the table as he pointed, and waited for my ‘unknown’ meal.

To my surprise, the lady was the chef! From what she was cooking with, I realized that I was going to have the famous ‘Korean stone bowl rice’, rather than the noodles that I had been longing for.

When the rice was presented in front of me, I went to pick up a pair of chopstick. The guy quickly came to stop me, with many ‘no s’, and handed me a spoon instead. He must have seen me with confused face, then showed me how to stir well, and use spoon to pick up the content from the bowl.

— I really wanted to laugh, laugh at myself not being able to speak a word, laugh at the quietness in the shop, and laugh at all the gestures he tried to give me.

The food was really authentic, not really my type, especially with the raw egg and many meat pieces (they did not understand me ‘not eat meat’ part, so I had to pick up all the meat pieces in the bowl), but it was good, not adapted to the western taste. What a great experience!! — I enjoyed.

The only problem was, since I could not speak the language, I had to eat my lunch at 11.30am!

Ha…

Related posts:

Cooking Note: Five (or thirteen) spice powder and ‘spice water’
Sea kelp (Kombu or Haidai): a healthy Chinese ingredient
Cooking note: always only one or two main ingredients in one dish
Culture note: Chinese dining table customs and manners

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