The first time I ever got invited to a German’s for dinner, they served me pasta with a tomatoey-tuna sauce. It was fine. It was perfectly fine. It was absolutely okay. It was almost nice. I mean, it was quite nice. It was just nothing special.
“I bet you’ve never tasted anything like this before, have you, Jacinta?” Lutz said to me, grinning provocatively.
“What?” I said.
“I bet you’ve never had anything like this cooked for you before, have you?” He grinned.
“Erm,” I said.
“We all know about the British and cooking! The British can’t cook, the British don’t cook!” He laughed cheerfully at his hilarious comment.
“We have tuna,” I said to him. “We have tuna in Britain. We have tuna and pasta. That’s a thing we eat.”
The Germans and the British are probably the worst cooks in Europe, huh, and we both try to distract attention away from our own shit culinary skills by pointing out the other’s weakness. I have to admit, to finding it annoying, a little bit. I am a bit of a foodie – actually maybe I am a bit of a fattie – and a huge part of my homesickness is inspired by my hunger pains. I miss English food. I wake up every Saturday craving a fry-up, and every Sunday craving a roast chicken with Yorkshire puddings and mash. I LOVE English food. There, I said it. I love it all. I love having chips with everything – big, gorgeous, golden, perfect chips, which, when made to perfection, which at the fish & chip shop my cousin works at they almost always are – manage to be slightly soggy and perfectly fluffy at the same time (HOW?), I love having lasagne and chips, I love fish and chips, I love sausage and chips, I love battered sausages and I love chippolatas. I love it all. I also love pies and I love the way the Asian community just totally culturally appropriates pies and you can get a chicken tikka pie as well as a steak and kidney pie if you so wish. I love Peri-Peri chicken. I love ham, egg and chips. I love a Sunday roast, I love bubble and squeak, I love toad-in-the-hole, I love Shepherd’s Pie, I love it all. I LOVE IT.
Germans think British people can’t cook for the following reasons:
1. We are a bit shit at cooking, compared to everywhere-else in Europe, except for Germany, to be fair.
2. London is so expensive, and Germans just meander around these awful tourist places and pay 50 quid for a lump of reheated fried chicken and chips that you can’t actually swallow. This is unfair, I feel, London is the only city in the world where the tourist crap gets seen as representing the national cuisine.
3. Germans have these weird, slightly racist ideas in their heads about proper cuisine and traditional cuisine and English cuisine, and also are super-pussyish re spicy food. So they’re not prepared to eat any Indian food when they visit Britain, and they don’t even try the culturally appropriative pies, and then they complain about how shit the food is. It’s ridiculous.
4. Brits are poorer than Germans, huh? On average. There are more poor people, cooking badly, and eating crap. Because of poverty, it’s hard to eat well when you don’t have enough money. And a lot of those poor people take on German exchange students in Bournemouth to make a bit of extra money. And as we all know, Germans are seriously fucking traumatized by their Bournemouth school exchanges.
5 Germans really care about what food looks like, and British people like to pile it all up into one glorious, gorgeous, stodgy, delightful mess.
6. Germans worry really far too much about fried food, especially since they literally all live off a diet which is 90 percent salami, nine percent Bockwurst and one percent three-day-old wilted cucumber. You might as well fry a bit of bread if you’re gonna load up on pork like that anyway.
What I will say, though, is that British people cook more than Germans realize, and slightly more exuberantly. British men cook more than German men. Ethnic minorities mix the foods up more – mix up traditional British cuisine with their own culture’s dishes and the people who do cook actually enjoy cooking more (I’d say, this isn’t the most scientific thing I ever said.) Also people invite each other over for dinner more – it IS galling constantly being told how shit you are at cooking by people who you’ve known for seven years and you’ve never even gotten a fucking sandwich out of the stingy bastards, and yes, if you know me in real life and feel angesprochen right now, this is undoubtedly a dig at you. ALSO POSH BRITISH PEOPLE COOK WELL AND HEALTHY AND POSH, as posh people should, Bio and that. What is the point of being posh if you’re not going to eat truffles and quails’ eggs and stuff and have organic bread? Like I have some posh German friends, architects and stuff, who let their kids have Nutellabrot for tea and the bread they use is Sammys SandwichToast but not even the Sammy stuff, but the supermarket own brand. I think it’s amazing that even posh Germans will feed their kids crap. I really don’t think they should judge us that much, to be honest.