Real True Facts about Germany

Photo: I bought sausages in a jar. Now what?

Fact: There are no bottle openers in Berlin.

I think they confiscate them at the border, actually. And yet there are no screw-top beer bottles either. All Germans learn, sometime just before their teenage years I think, how to open beer bottles using any object within reach.

Traditionally a Bic cigarette lighter is used (everyone has a lighter because everyone smokes. Everyone). A delicate technique allows one to use one’s knuckle as a fulcrum for the lighter to lever off the cap of the beer bottle. If done incorrectly the results may be shattered beer bottles, cut or sprained hands, exploded lighters, or worst of all tragically unopened beer.

This technique is taught in Canada but usually only whilst camping. Here it’s a crucial urban survival technique. I don’t smoke (and you’d best praise my willpower for that) but I’ve considered buying a lighter for beer opening. Also for when the girls ask me “hast du feuer?

Fact: Wine costs 2 Euro a bottle.

I’m drinking a 5 Euro (7.00$CDN) bottle of French Bordeaux table wine because I’m a snobby git, but I could have got a bottle of Bulgarian something-er-other red for 1.29 Euro.

Of course there’s much more expensive wine to be had but I’d have to find a wine shop or trendy Bio (organic) grocer for that instead of the shelf at my local discount supermarket. As table wine this Bordeaux is pretty amazing.

Fact: The plastic wrap sucks.

There must be more stringent laws that prevent the plastic wrap here from containing the carcinogenic compounds that make it so versatile in North America. My plastic wrap is too thick, never unrolls properly, and doesn’t cut right against the teeth on the box. It’s like they heard about plastic wrap and made a product with similar physical properties but didn’t realize that it ultimately fails for its intended purpose. It’s probably because nobody buys it since they don’t keep food for more than 36 hours (lest it become inadequately fresh).

Fact: The only thing they talk about on TV is Israel and Palestine.

That is, the only English TV I get is BBC World and CNN International, and the only French TV is something news-like. Between these channels the only thing on is talk shows where fat white guys in suits bicker about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Occasionally they talk about football (*soccer) scores but otherwise it’s all religious warfare all the time.

The other channels are okay, though German. There are a lot of low-budget reality shows, which is to be expected. One channel seems to be a German dub of the Discovery Channel. The voice actor who plays Adam on Mythbusters is too sedate.

I do enjoy a good episode of Zerplatzen in Sekunden (the German dub of Destroyed in Seconds). Narration is unnecessary when watching things explode.

Fact: Zer is an awesome prefix

Zer is a German prefix that means something like “fall apart into pieces”. You put it in front of other words to describe ingenious ways things fall apart. Zer + to fly = zerflu├čen meaning to fly apart into pieces. Zer + to push = zerdrucken meaning to crush or crumple. Zer+to cook = zerkochen meaning to boil into pieces (like overboiling a roast). Zer + to read = zerlesen describing the state of a book that’s been read so much that it’s become damaged from constant handling.

If you know any German verbs you can add zer in front of them to invent new ways of breaking stuff. Fun!