Monday, December 10, 2012

Germans Eat 1.7 Times Faster Than Americans

Germans are the kings of efficiency and this extends into the realm of eating lunch. If you work at a big company in Germany, you will almost certainly have a cafeteria to eat in which serves up great subsidized meals. Because Germans want to spend as little time as possible at work, they limit their lunch breaks to exactly 45 minutes. That means you have 45 minutes to walk from the office to the cafeteria, get served up a nice meal and a tiny drink with no ice (and no free refills), talk about the latest episode of the emigration reality show, a soccer match, or what would have happened if some battle in a war 95 years ago would have turned out differently. After that you need to return your dishes and take a 10 minute walk the long way back to the office.

When you subtract the walking times and time needed to buy your lunch, you actually only have about 10 minutes to eat your meal while discussing 1 reality show, 1 soccer match, and 1 alternative outcome to a historic event. You as an American cannot pull it off. Do not attempt to participate in the conversation, focus solely on eating as fast as you can. The cards are stacked against you in this for the following 2 reasons:  
  • You likely haven’t mastered the super-efficient German style of eating, whereby you scoop everything onto your fork in your left hand with your knife that’s in your right hand. Maybe you are becoming adept at using the fork with your left hand and are gaining speed, but it won’t be enough.
  • You must constantly try to remember the gender of every noun you want to say, then figure out whether the prepositions you want to use require the accusative, dative, or genitive case. Then you have to match the gender with the case to figure out the needed definite article in a table in your head you learned in German class, and you are almost there. Now you just have to figure out the adjective ending based on the definite article and you have part of the sentence you want to say completed. Now figure out where the verbs go in the sentence, conjugate and you are ready to add your mustard to the conversation. Unfortunately by the time you have your witty sentence about the reality show constructed in your head, the topic has already moved on to the Bundesliga.  

Not only did you not get to say a single word about the first topic, you wasted your first 3 minutes of valuable eating time. You are still working on your soup, while your German colleagues have already finished their Maultaschen and are getting ready to dig into dessert.

Once again its going to be one of those days where the only thing you said all lunch long was
genau one time, and your colleagues are still going to have to wait for the slow American to finish lunch.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not american, but man, I know the feeling. I'm almost always the last guy to finish my lunch because I want to eat it properly, chew, enjoy the taste and thank mother nature in the process. It is a moment to calm down, respect the food and the body. In the meantime my german colleagues are all carrying on with conversation waiting impatiently for me to finish my meal. They eat unhealthily fast. When I try to keep up the pace it feels like shoving chunks of food into my body. It feels horrible and very unnatural. I don't understand how they manage it, and while talking! I am the last one to finish and I barely talk. This is a habit I don't want to get used to.