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Photo by Dees Chinniah (cyberdees; Flickr CC)
When I first arrived in Germany (back in the olden days), I didn't know that you were meant to eat sausage and mashed potato for Christmas dinner.
I worked in a primary school in Wilmersdorf, and actually deep-down inside, I was fully aware that I was teaching a bunch of rich kids. Their clothes were better than mine, teilweise. Actually scrap that teilweise. Their clothes were better than mine, full-stop.
After the holidays were over I was given the job of making up a chart where I recorded what all the kids had eaten for Christmas dinner.
Thing is, when I thought of Christmas dinner I was thinking of CHRISTMAS dinner: turkey, sprouts, carrots, parsnips, roast potatoes (boiled potatoes, too), plus Yorkshire puddings and tiny sausages in bacon. But I was open-minded. I knew that foreigners might be into goose and shit.
But what I was SPECIFICALLY not prepared for was Würstschen und Kartoffelbrei. Würstchen und Kartoffelbrei! Bangers and fucking mash. Do me a favour! So whenever a kid said: "Würstchen und Kartoffelbrei", what I heard was: "Sozialfall." Würstchen und Kartoffelbrei! Bangers and mash!
It ended up being approximately a THIRD of the class who filled in the bangers and mash section of my Christmas dinner chart. I was really shocked and traumatized. I did my best to style it out, though, and said: "Mmmmm, yummy, yummy, lecker, mmmmmmm, how nice of your mummy to cook that yummy Christmas dinner for you, you lucky thing!"
Secretly I was thinking: you poor bastards, hoffentlich, merkt ihr gar nicht, dass ihr euch für eure Armut schämen solltet. BAD ENOUGH that you didn't get any Christmas dinner. What were they gonna say next? Fish fingers and baked beans?
And then ist es TATSÄCHLICH passiert – somebody said the only thing I could imagine that could be even slightly worse than bangers and mash: Kartoffelsalat. Oh my Gawd, I thought. And when the kids in Wilmersdorf are getting fed bangers and mash and potato salad, what's happening in the Problemvierteln? Toast mit Philadelphia-Käse oder was?
Mittlerweile, I've grown accustomed to the German Christmas. You get bangers and mash on Christmas Eve, and a bit of goose on Christmas Day. But one thing I've never got used to – WE NEED CHRISTMAS CRACKERS MAN! All food – even bangers and mash or potato salad - tastes a thousand times better with a paper crown on your head.