Enrichment of the food culture in Germany through migration

Chef, Waiter, Restaurant, Bread, Salad, Food, Cafe

Delicious dishes from around the world are an integral part of everyday life today – whether it’s pizza or kebab. But this was not always the case.

Monday 15/08/2022 0:41 am|last updated: Monday, 15/08/2022, 12:46 Reading time: 3 minutes |

Tapas, bouillabaisse, pizza, curry or kebab: dishes from all over the world are now part of everyday life in Germany. Large German cities in particular are characterized by a culinary diversity that is unparalleled. But this was not always the case. Before the first “guest workers” came to Germany, potatoes, cabbage and bacon were the main items on the menu. However, from the 1950s this would change. With the economic miracle came a new era full of culinary discoveries.

how it all started

In 1952, Germany’s first pizzeria opened its doors. The Blue Grotto in Würzburg still exists today – the restaurant has now become a true legend. First, the pizzeria experienced a veritable stampede from the GIs stationed in the Federal Republic. Gradually, the Germans began to like pizza and pasta more and more. As a result of the German-Italian agreement on the recruitment of workers, many Italian families came to Germany from 1955. Many of them opened their own restaurant and served the typical dishes of their homeland.

Not only spaghetti and pizza, but also mozzarella and basil have become real favourites. Where the Germans still cooked with butter and lard, the Italians served high quality olive oil. The culinary landscape of Germany has changed forever.

The rise of foreign restaurateurs

Foreign cuisines only really became popular in Germany in the 1970s. At that time people from many other countries immigrated to Germany besides the Italians. Thanks to these immigrants, the Germans discovered vegetables like zucchini or desserts like baklava. The economic crisis of the 1970s led to a temporary recruitment freeze for foreign workers. Many of the foreigners already living in Germany became self-employed and established restaurants.

The useless German gastronomy attacked him from all sides. Younger people in particular have declared war on German dishes and prefer to try exotic food. Little by little, foreign snacks such as falafel or kebabs have also established themselves. While Germans used to enjoy a ham sandwich as a snack, by the 1970s many were much more willing to experiment.

The availability of certain ingredients also changed with immigration. For example, the recruited foreign specialists had to buy olive oil in the pharmacy. In time, they began importing olive oil as well as other ingredients from their homelands into Germany – an endeavor that would prove extremely profitable.

Which national cuisine is most popular in Germany?

Italian cuisine is still the most popular in Germany. Whether it’s a slice of pizza in between, a plate of spaghetti for lunch or a portion of tiramisu for dessert: Italian traditions have long been established in Germany. Turkish cuisine is also very popular. The döner kebab in particular was able to establish itself throughout Germany. Now you can order a delicious flatbread with a lush filling at any time of the day from most delivery services. Even for small businesses, the delivery of typical local dishes is worthwhile thanks to POS systems with TSE and Co.

Asian cooking directions also have many followers. The fusion cuisine, which combines different national cuisines of the Asian region, is of particular interest. But that’s not all, because the Germans have really developed a taste for exotic food. African specialties in particular are on the rise.

Migration is closely linked to changes in German eating habits. What would have been unthinkable 70 years ago is now part of everyday life. We order pizza and döner kebab as a matter of course without thinking about it further. The many migrants from abroad taught us how to process unusual ingredients into delicious aromatic delicacies. And the best thing about it: friendship and integration definitely go through the stomach. (dd)


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