Love and Bread

Photo by WuHahn

Girls must pay attention if you are going to date with German guys or visit German families! The way you cut and eat bread in front of them will affect their first impression on you.

The most distinctive thing about German bread from other western countries is the addition of fiber-rich rye to the dough. Germans indeed take bread as meals or snacks, therefore, bread is undoubtedly the staple food of the day in Germany. There are two most common kinds of bread in daily life, including Brötchen, bread in the size of palm, and Brot, big and heavy bread. Their German appellation may vary from region to region. Germans usually eat Brötchen for breakfast. As more delicate flour is used, the bread is light and well fermented to be bulging and bright. And you have two choices, rye bread or simple white bread. There are some decorations of pumpkin seeds, white sesame seeds, poppy seeds and flaxseed on the outside of the bread during the second fermentation, which won’t change the whole flavor. All differences are in the details of material. In contrast, Taiwanese bakeries and Japanese bakeries have a variety of bread flavors, such as fragrant and sweet butter biscuit, salty and spicy meat floss, chopped green onion with oil flavor, pineapple pulp and so on. These flavors and colors are absolutely invisible in German bakeries, because Germans are accustomed to their own bread and have no interest in bread with fillings. And they also hope that bread, if it has fillings, should be put on the surface for a clear view.

At any time, German bread is firstly cut or sliced, smeared with butter, and then stacked with cheese, ham and raw meat moose of various flavors. It is considered as a delicious and nutritious meal. How to cut German Brötchen is the key point of today’s discussion. You can’t tear German bread into pieces by hand, or cut them in half according to the vertical axis, or grab them to bite. I met Mr. Hahn in Shanghai. We sometimes went to German restaurants when starting dating. To be honest, I didn’t care how I ate these Brötchen before I went out with German. For Taiwanese who are used to taking the traditional Taiwanese flavor, this unflavored, slightly hard, and grainy bread seems to be just taken a few bites by hand before the meal. At the beginning, Mr. Hahn said nothing on my behavior. He probably regarded that people didn’t often eat German food in Asia, so he never minded. But on my first dinner with him at his parents’ house in Germany, he insisted that I must cut the bread in “German way.”  First of all, the knife must be thrust straight into the belly button of the bun, then “cut” it into flat upper and lower halves along circumference with blade, and finally laid it completely on the plate. I must pay attention to keeping 90 degrees between the knife and the bread as cutting, and made sure that the cutting force was adequate. Otherwise, serrated, uneven or chipped upper and lower halves were failed.

Photo by WuHahn

Online blogs in foreign cultures have mostly introduced about the classification or practice of European bread, but nobody seems to have a concrete talk about cutting bread way in Germany. In fact, there are knife shops in Germany for selling bread cutting knives, but most families use ordinary knives for daily meal. Up to now, I’m used to cutting the bread in the “German manner”, but sometimes the upper and lower halves are not very smooth and the crumbs may fall off. My way of cutting needs to be enhanced. Mr. Hahn also keeps an eye on my cutting and correct it at any time.

At today’s lunch, I learned that Klöße, a German dish made with potatoes, needed to be “cut” in the same way as a bun and served with all the gravy. I made fool of myself on the table due to my intuition of cutting along the vertical axis.

Klöße
Photo by WuHahn

Bread is not the staple food for Taiwanese, so we never care how to cut bread in daily life. However, Germans are very particular about how to cut their food. So, my dear, if you want to hang out with Germans, you must learn and appreciate the way of “cutting” bread and how to enjoy them.

愛情與麵包

準備跟德國男生約會的,或是準備拜訪其德國家人的女孩們注意了!如何在德國人面前切麵包、吃麵包,會影響對方對你的第一印象。

德國麵包和其他西方國家最不一樣的,就是將富含纖維的黑麥加入麵團。德國人真的將麵包納入所有的正餐或是點心,它無疑是德國人從早到晚必備的主食。我們日常生活中最常遇到的兩種分別是如掌心般大的麵包叫小麵包(Brötchen) 以及很大很重的大麵包 (Brot)。這些麵包的德文稱謂還會因地區不同而可能有不同的稱謂。 通常德國人會在早餐吃的是小麵包,小麵包用的麵粉較精緻,所以很輕盈發酵得鼓鼓很亮,品種有加少量裸麥或單純白麵包的選擇。小麵包的裝飾也會在麵包第二次發酵時外層沾南瓜子、白芝麻、罌粟籽及亞麻籽,總體來說口味變化不大,差別都在用料的細節裡。相比之下,台灣台式麵包店和日系麵包店的麵包口味,實在是五花八門,比如香甜奶酥、鹹辣肉鬆、油香蔥花、爆漿菠蘿等,這些花樣和顏色在德國的麵包店內是絕對看不到的,因為德國人習慣自己的麵包,而且不太喜歡麵包有夾心,也希望麵包就算有餡也應該鋪在表面,這樣才一覽無遺。

在任何時候,德國麵包被切開來或是切片以後抹上牛油,在上面堆疊各種口味的起司、火腿、生肉麋等,就認為是可口且營養的一餐。至於怎麼切德國小麵包是今天討論的重點。德國小麵包不能用手撕成一塊塊地吃,也不能按垂直中軸線左右對半切、更不能抓起來就口咬。我跟韓先生在上海認識,開始約會時,有的時候上德國餐廳吃飯。說實話,在跟德國人交往之前,我一直覺得怎麼吃這些小麵包根本無所謂,因為這種對習慣傳統台式口味的台灣人來說沒有什麼味道、還有點硬的穀物圓麵包,在餐前似乎用手掰開吃幾個小口就好。韓先生一開始對我吃麵包的舉止沒有多加評論,他大概是覺得在亞洲不常吃德國菜,所以不必計較。但是第一次跟他到德國父母家吃飯時,他就要求我一定要用「德國方式」切小麵包。首先,餐刀必須筆直戳進相當於小麵包肚幾眼的位置,然後用刀鋒順圓周將它「裁」成平整的上下兩半,最后完整地躺在盤子上。裁的時候要注意餐刀跟麵包之間一直保持九十度,而且要確認裁的力道是否游刃有餘,否則上下兩半呈現鋸齒狀,凹凸不平或是掉屑屑都是不及格的。

在異國文化的網路部落格上,大部分都著墨歐洲麵包的分類或是作法,好像沒有人具體談麵包在德國應該怎麼切。其實德國刀具店還有賣專門切麵包的刀子,不過一般家庭用餐時都直接用普通餐刀。目前為止,我習慣用「德國方式」切小麵包,但是上下兩半有時不是太光滑會掉屑屑,刀法還需精進。至今,當我在切小圓麵包的時候,韓先生還是會不停瞄我的刀法,隨時糾正。

今天午餐,我又學到原來切德國一道特色餐點,也就是馬鈴薯做的Klöße也要用切小圓麵包的方式「裁」開,蘸上所有肉汁一起吃。我個人直覺以中軸線左右對半切開的結果又惹來同桌一陣笑話。

麵包不是台灣人主食,平時怎麼切麵包也當然沒環境耳濡目染。然而德國人真的非常講究如何切他們的食物。所以,親愛的妳如果想跟德國人交往,一定要設法留意如何「裁」麵包和享受麵包喔!

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