Since it is that time of the year again, I thought it was a good moment to finally write another issue of my Germany blog series. This time it will be about the Germans favorite past time during the summer: Barbecue. And just like everything German, their version of barbecuing ("Grillen") has a few, well, particularities.
First of all, Grillen is ubiquitous in Germany. From as early as March, it is almost impossible to escape. Supermarkets will stack up the front rows of every section with piles of coal, various grill sets, and barbecue sauces. During the summer you won't be able to walk a park, river bank, or residential area without noticing the biting smell of burning coal from as early as 10am well until the wee hours of the night.
Grillen is universally loved by all age groups too. Teenagers will combine blackening cheap sausages with their usual open air beer binges. Here cost is the number one priority, and luckily for everyone short on a budget, you can buy the complete beginner's Grillen set virtually everywhere: The 1 Euro single use grill with starter and coal included, the 1 Euro family pack of meat or sausages of dubious origin, and the 5 Euro case of local discount beer. Even gas stations will stack up on those Grillen essentials, as they are the only store still open during the night in most places.
Square spots of burned grass everywhere show how popular these things are.
In more mature circles, Grillen has long become a huge dick measuring contest. Here it is all about presenting the latest model of the best kettle grill, which the home owner will proudly present to the invited party for the season opening Grillen. Those Grillen connoisseurs will only accept grilling on beech coal, and everyone will have their more or less secret methods and techniques to create the perfect amount of heat. Winning your neighborhoods Grillen season this way can easily set you back 2k Euro, but apparently for enough people that is worth it, since every Spring home depot stores all over the country present an impressive range of expensive German engineered barbecue sets.
Own one of these babies and you have made it.
What is remarkable about Grillen season is that just to enjoy some fire roasted piece of meat, Germans throw many of their usual habits out of a window - something that really does not happen very often. Consider the food itself for example. For all their love for alcohol and hearty meals, Germans are incredible conscious to eat healthily overall (Germans are obsessed with health generally - a topic that deserves its own blog I believe). These days no store could survive without offering a vast range of "Bio" lines, a green label that is seemingly arbitrarily printed on food products of virtually every kind. Yet come Grillen season, the same green Germans will happily buy cart loads of the cheapest and most disgusting pre-marinated meat (aptly called "Gammelfleisch") and devour heaps of the same with very un-Bio potato salad and white bread.
Or take their unquestionable love for good beer. Well I suppose they still do love beer, but since Germans hate cooling, they'll have their otherwise good beer summerly warm during their open air Grillen sessions. Actually, bringing a cool box will quickly get you labeled as "Americanized" among the more radical Grillen circles.
Another instance is the famous German love for rules and regulations. Open fire is in fact verboten anywhere but in clearly marked and confined areas - which are rare enough in your typical university city. That doesn't seem to faze the hoards of German Grillen fanatics though, who will carry bags of coal and fire starter to the local park, ignoring the possibility of fines which can be several hundred Euros. The officials, most likely among the arsonists themselves on their free time, have long turned a blind eye. Only recently have I heard of large scale summer night police raids to clear public parks and preserve some unscorched specks of grass.
Still these instances are the exception, and this year will surely be yet another season of industrial scale coal burning all across the country. And as someone who actually likes good food it will be another year of escaping the immense peer pressure to go Grillen every weekend.
It might not be that common but there are in fact some people who still like Grillen but do it with high quality meat, sauces and salads. I doubt that people who are really concerned about their food switch it up that much when they are grilling. When you are a student (or something similiar) it's generally hard to get quality food when you are out with your peers (mensa etc). It doesn't really has anything to do with grillen, except that you have to do it like every other day.
EUW: Dongrae (after the SC:BW player, not this gu guy)
Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy, GRILLEN!!!!!!!!!!!! It's that time of the year again. I can only echo the people in this thread, that you can indeed have quality food there. Also, since when is cooling your beer americanized? A cooling box amongst my friends makes you a god rather than an american. Warm beer, especially cheap ones, taste rather terrible in my opinion. And I don't know in which university city you live but I'm from Heidelberg and I know that the officials haven't turned a blind eye for years. Instead there are rules and specifically marked spots where you can have open fire.
On April 13 2012 19:17 Surth wrote: You forgot to mention that on the first of may barbecuing is mandatory. Its in the law! :D
You forgot to mention Wandern and getting drunk
life of lively to live to life of full life thx to shield battery
drsnuggles Korea (South). April 13 2012 19:45. Posts 308
I don't feel represented in this blog about Germany at all. In my family we value the meat and buy it at a butcher to get quality meat. We also don't throw "barbecue parties" or barbecue with drunk friends, most of the time its just me and the family and maybe one of my parents friends coming over and eating potatoes with tzatziki, some self-made salads and nice sausages + aforementioned meat. I can see why you're seeing it as a negative though, the examples you mention sound awful indeed, but that has never been my personal barbecue experience.
Or take their unquestionable love for good beer. Well I suppose they still do love beer, but since Germans hate cooling, they'll have their otherwise good beer summerly warm during their open air Grillen sessions.
Zatic i just read all your germany blogs! they are all awesome, entertaining and informative looking forward to future posts! Not so surprisingly german and swedish people seem very similar on a lot of points!