Expand your palate: learn German food vocabulary

learn german food vocabulary palate

German food has always been diverse. There’s a rich culture of German meals you’ll never run out to try.

Due to their reformation in 1990, the cultures and traditions of both East Germany and West Germany have influenced German food culture.

Some universities even learn German food vocabulary in their German language classes.

So, if you want to learn more about German culture, stick around!

There are lots of terms to memorize in the food and beverage section.

Food manners in Germany

Eating is an opportunity to practice speaking and communicating in German.

There are two types of dining that are popularly known by most Germans and probably even a custom around the world: formal and informal dining.

Informal dining

This is your experience eating a German meal with your friends and family.

As is the custom worldwide, you can make a good impression by giving a gift to someone you’ll be meeting for the first time.

Most food gifts include German wine (der Wein), a packaged slice of meat (Fleischscheibe or Stück Fleisch), or Pizza (die Pizza) for the modern take.

It’s important to know the strong tradition and culture if you’re visiting a family with elders. However, you can ask your German friend to give you an idea

Extra tip when gift-giving: Be careful when giving flowers! It has a strong symbolic meaning for Germans.

Do not send red flowers to coworkers since they are very romantic. Sending yellow and tea roses is a safer option.

A common emblem of grief is carnation. Funeral flowers include lilies and chrysanthemums.

Another important thing to remember when receiving gifts is to open them right away. Although some modern and younger Germans understand foreigners who open it at home.

If a German asks you to open their gift, open it in front of them.

Formal dining

Business dinner meetings or any formal event with German elders or people in authority often require formal dining etiquette.

If you don’t observe German business etiquette while dealing with your German counterpart, it might have a negative impact on your business partnerships and operations in the long run.

Much like in every country, you can ask permission to sit next to a stranger when there’s no table available if you’re a walk-in customer.

However, you can also choose to reserve your seat for special occasions or if you just want a good seating arrangement.

Ordering in German

German language courses often start with basic vocabulary like asking for directions and talking about your hobbies.

Another important topic is knowing what to order when you are at a restaurant.

Here are what most native speakers ask for when ordering in German.

bill die Rechnung
table der Tisch
sides Beilage
with that dazu
gladly gerne

Verb actions for cooking in German:

To order

bestellen

To take

nehmen

To take away

zum Mitnehmen

To eat here

zum hier Essen

To cook

kochen

To roast

braten

To bake

backen

To wash

spülen

To smell

riechen

Condiments and Ingredients in German

Of course, there are also ingredients that you need to make your meal complete.

Who should forget about condiments? The little magic that brings your food to a whole new level!

The German word for condiment is das Gewürz. Missing the pepper and salt shakers on your table? Ask these German food words when you order outside.

Want to make your food taste better? Here are other das Gewürz items that makes the German meal delightful.

Ice Eis
Ice cubes das Eiswürfel
Salt das Salz
Pepper der Pfeffer
Sauce die Soße
Butter die Butter
Honey der Honig
Cream die Sahne
Sugar der Zucker
vinegar der Essig
mustard der Senf

Meat, fish, chicken, bread, and other varieties

Meat is a staple in European countries like Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and more.

You’ll find various meat, poultry, dairy, and lots of sauerkraut (fermented/pickled cabbage) as the side dish.

For the vegetarian version, don’t worry, we’ll also include terms you can use as well!

Baked bread

das brot

Piece of veal meat

Stück Kalbfleisch

Beef

das Rindfleisch

Steak

das Rindsteak

Pork

das Schweinefleisch

fish

der Fisch

ham

der Schinken

Poultry

Geflügel

Chicken

das Hähnchen

soup

die Suppe

Fruits and Vegetables

Germans also love their fruits and vegetables. If you’ve ever been to Germany, you’ve probably eaten a lot of fruit grown in the country’s temperate environment.

German native speakers ate fruit way before preservation machines were invented.

Gardeners and farmers, as well as market vendors alike, will still be selling these fruits today.

Fruit from all over the world is of course available in a modern German grocery shop.

In recent years, fruits have been imported to German-speaking nations from all over the world, and the Germans have included these fruits in their regular meals as a result.

Fruit

die Frucht

Banana

die Banane

Raspberry

die Himbeere

Apple

der Apfel

Orange

die Orange

Strawberry

die Erdbeere

Grapes

die Traube

Let’s find out the other German food vocabulary for vegetables:

vegetables das Gemüse
leek der Lauch
cucumber die Gurke
pumpkin der Kürbis
carrot die Karotte
tomato die Tomate
lentil die Linse
radish das Radieschen
potato die Kartoffel
cauliflower der Blumenkohl
bean die Bohne
broccoli der Brokkoli

Vegetarian dishes you need to try:

  • Kässpätzle =Vegetarian mac and cheese
  • Spargelcremesuppe = Cream of asparagus soup
  • Soleier = pickled eggs
  • Rote Grütze = Pudding with vanilla sauce and red fruits like strawberry or raspberry
  • Sauerkrautsuppe = Sauerkraut soup

German Beverages

Another German pride, the heavy consumption of beer is not new for anyone who talks about Germany.

Wait for the host or hostess to make a toast or start drinking if wine or beer is supplied (which is common).

You may wish to toast yourself on a memorable occasion.

Most of the time, a simple Prost! (Cheers!) or Zum Wohl! (To life/to your health!) is all that’s needed to convey well wishes to your hosts or to everyone.

Be sure to look the person you’re clinking glasses with straight in the eyes.

Beverages

Getränke

Drink

Das Getränk

Water

das Wasser

Coffee

der kaffee

Tea

der Tee

[fruit] Juice

der [Obst]saft

Milk

die Milch

Lemonade

die Limonade

Beer

das Bier

Wine

der Wein

White wine

Weißwein

Red wine

Rotwein

We’ve also introduced to you other meals you can enjoy in Germany here.

Utensils that you will use in German

Another proper etiquette to maintain when dining out in a formal manner is the use of utensils.

For the most part, Germans like to eat with a knife and fork, except when they’re eating something that’s meant to be eaten with one’s hands.

Use your cutlery if you must, but try to keep both in your hands at all times.

glass das Glas
fork die Gabel
spoon der Löffel
knife das Messer
napkin die Serviette
plate der Teller
table der Tisch
dishes das Geschirr
silverware das Besteck
drinking straw Strohhalm/Trinkhalm

When eating, don’t take too much as it is considered impolite to leave food on your plate.

An easier way to memorize German food vocabulary

Most of the time, we learn by visual cues and tools that support making that vocabulary a core memory.

If you can imagine those German foods you love and attach them to something you can’t forget, you’ll definitely memorize them faster.

Creating German food vocabulary with pictures is a good and productive way to memorize without even enrolling in language schools.

Until next time, Guten Appetit! or Enjoy your meal!

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