I hate hoovering. When I iron something, it looks more creased afterwards and has these funny black marks which don’t think are supposed to be there? I once stacked the dishwasher so badly that my ex-boyfriend cried actual tears of actual frustration and true grief. And I think if Marie Kondo watched my folding laundry it would break her. But when it comes to German Abendbrot, I am the Perfect German Housewife. I have that shit down.
So, I’m babysitting my lovely friend Florence’s kid when my lovely little friend Zandra comes over. I want to make her sit on the balcony because I know she’s been partying loads. This is fine, I think – probably. Zandra is so tiny and perfect – I swear, she is the only person on the planet who actually lost weight over lockdown – and now she looks so perfect and petite and tiny, like a tiny miniature porcelain chimney sweep.
“They change the rules every day,” she says mournfully, placing two bottles of sekt on the table. “It’s cold on your balcony, let’s just open the balcony doors, then your kitchen is kind of part of the balcony. Oh, I am so confused about the Corona stuff. Are you confused? It’s so confusing!”
“It is confusing, isn’t it,” I say.
“It’s exhausting and confusing!” she says. “I don’t even know what is allowed or not anymore! Are we allowed to shake strangers’ hands? Have sex with our old pre-Corona fuck buddies? Smoke crack together if we disinfect the pipe first?”
“Yeah, they need to make up some simple rules and let us know what they are and then we can stick to them. I’m not even sure if I should have let you come over when I am babysitting. Listen, I’m gonna make the kids some Abendbrot, you open the sekt, okay?”
Abendbrot is probably the greatest trick the Perfect German Housewife ever played on German men/ausländische women
I make the kids Abendbrot. That is, place two slices of grey bread, two slices of b, one slice of cheese and one slice of salami on the plate. Zandra looks over my shoulder.
“Has that kid you’re babysitting’s mum fucked your ex-boyfriend or something?” She asks, looking at the plate of food I have prepared.
“What?” I say.
“You obviously really hate this woman? You’re giving her kid the cheapest, stingiest, most miserable excuse for dinner known to man.”
I look at Zandra in surprise.
“Zandra!” I say. “This is Abendbrot! This is German Abendbrot! This is good, normal, German Abendbrot. This is how you German.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake, you are so mean about the Germans sometimes.”
“No, honestly, this is what German kids get for dinner.”
“This is what people in the Bastille got for dinner, more like! At the very fucking least put the two slices of bread on top of each other and call it a fucking sandwich.”
“Zandra, I am a perfect German housewife, and I would never do anything as outrageously and horrifically un-German as give my kids a sandwich for dinner. Well….not when we have guests over.”
I think Abendbrot is probably the greatest trick the Perfect German Housewife ever played on German men/ausländische women. If you grab a slice of bread, but actually go to the trouble of chopping up an onion, frying some bacon, getting some turkey ham involved? Or even smearing said bread with something vaguely healthy like hummus or peanut butter?
YOU SLUT YOU LAZY SLUT YOU DISGUSTING WHORE YOU FUCKING….AUSLÄNDERIN.
The brilliance of Abendbrot is, the less effort you put in, the more German and perfect it becomes.
The brilliance of Abendbrot is, the less effort you put in, the more German and perfect it becomes. In my country, England, famous for being bad at cooking, we think the mums who make easy dinners – bangers and mash, say, or beans on toast – are the lazy housewives and the women who actually make complicated, tasty, delicious meals like lasagne or quiche are the good mothers – and proper housewives. But Germany is like an opposite world and everyone (except Zandra) knows that the Perfect German Housewife makes a Perfect Abendbrot: two slices of bread, two slices of tired, slightly wilted cucumber (you should try to buy your cucumbers at the supermarket already on the verge of exhaustion to get the real Abendbrot feeling), one slice of cheese, one slice of salami.
One thing I’d like to see: a Nigella Lawson German Abendbrot Reaction Video. Or how about Nigella Lawson trying to make a German Abendbrot herself? It would be literally torture for her, and I reckon at the last moment she’d go crazy and start smearing the bread with organic goose fat, smashing up avocados and throwing smarties at all the kids. Nigella, Nigella, Nigella, Nigella. Take it easy on yourself. We can’t all be perfect German housewives, you know!
Catch Jacinta Nandi live at Berlin’s Pfefferberg Theater on Wednesday, October 28 when she launches her new book, Die schlechteste Hausfrau der Welt.