Typically “Gaijin”

I guess there aren’t many people who hjapaneseave never been to a sushi place or Japanese restaurant at least once in their lifetime. The colorful rice rolls have become more and more popular over the past years, as the vast offer of different restaurants in Augsburg alone suggests! Japanese food such as sushi, just to name one of the many different and delicious dishes Japanese cuisine has to offer, also represents a part of Japanese culture. If you not only want to show respect this, but also the effort the itamae (the sushi chef) is putting into your dish, it’s important to eat it the way it’s supposed to be eaten – otherwise you might come across as a rude gaijin (jap. 外人, lit. translates to “person from outside”, “outsider”). The word has a very strong negative connotation and has been used to describe non-Japanese people, especially western people. Today, though, it’s being replaced by the more formal gaikokujin (jap. 外国人, “person from a foreign country”).

So, to get the most out of your sushi-eating experience, whether in Germany, in one of our lovely Japanese restaurants, or in Japan itself, try to avoid the five following no-gos!

1. Don’t cut your sushi into smaller pieces with your chopsticks – If possible, try to eat the sushi in one bite, as the chef always creates a balanced piece of the delicious food. For example, eat a bit of pickled ginger before switching to another type of sushi in order to neutralize the taste and prepare your palate for the next sensation.

2. Speaking of chopsticks – Don’t pierce your sushi (or rice in a bowl) with them and leave them standing vertically – This is a sign of death and is considered very rude.

3. Don’t put wasabi into the soy sauce and blend them – Soy sauce and wasabi should never be mixed. Put a little wasabi on your sushi and then dip it into the soy sauce. And nigiri sushi usually doesn’t require any extra wasabi, as there is already a thin layer between the rice and the fish.

4. Don’t eat sashimi with your hands – Sashimi, raw pieces of fish without rice, are not supposed to be eaten with your fingers. Use your chopsticks! However, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat nigiri sushi with your hands, to avoid destroying its delicate structure.

5. Don’t dip nigiri into the soy sauce rice side first – The integrity of the rice will be destroyed if you do. Instead, dip it into the sauce upside-down, and eat it this way, too, so that the fish hits your taste buds first.

Paying attention to these few things will make your dinner more authentic and a blast, not only for you and your friends, but also for the restaurant staff! Appreciating another culture is not difficult, so why not start by doing so with appropriate eating etiquette?

And don’t forget: Have fun, and don’t be THAT person! 🙂

Author & Picture: Mélanie Fournier

An ode to ice cream

20160715_205335I like ice cream a whole lot.
It tastes good when days are hot.
On a cone or in a dish,
this would be my only wish,
vanilla, chocolate, or rocky road,
even with pie a la mode.

 

 

These are the wise words of budding poet Vada Sultenfuss, lead character of the coming-of-age classic My Girl. In this little poem, she sums up what practically the whole world thinks when it comes to ice cream. And her words couldn’t be more fitting than right now, since July is National Ice Cream Month in the USA. And even though it seems like there is no such thing in Germany, I still think we should celebrate it anyway. Probably every person on the planet loves ice cream to some extent, and so it’s great to see that there are still some things that unite everyone in times of division (of course, there is also enough to fight about when it comes to ice cream, but that’s a different story).

Let’s focus on the positive side of it all, for example, the fact that eating ice cream makes us happy. Or that it contains many nutrients like B vitamins and proteins. What’s more, ice cream lessens the negative effects of stress and also reduces the risk of suffering from cancer.

So everything would be absolutely perfect if the ice cream industry didn’t insist on driving a popsicle stick through an ice cream lover’s heart like mine every now and then by suspending the production of a favorite kind of ice cream, in my case Langnese Cremissimo’s Gone with the Wind Ice Cream. However, I quickly managed to mend my broken heart by binge eating the birthday cake ice cream made by Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. Believe
me – their ice cream is to die for and if you’re ever in Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston, or Nashville
you just have to check it out.

So no matter if you’re a popsicle addict or a gelato lover, in the end we should all just celebrate the divinity of ice cream. It’s (Inter)National Ice Cream Month after all.

Author & Pictures: Alisa Lechky

World Veggie Day: Five random facts about vegetarianism

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day. Time to brush up on your knowledge about vegetarianism! But why stick to the “boring” facts that everyone knows anyhow? Here are some pretty random but fun facts about vegetarians and vegetarianism. Enjoy!

Number of Vegetarians
Well, maybe not so random, but still a cool thing to know: According to the 2014 Meat Atlas, published by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung and Friends of the Earth Europe, there are currently more than 400 million vegetarians and vegans living worldwide. The largest number lives in India (roughly 375 million). But in the States and Europe, there are also more and more vegetarians. The German Vegetarian Organization Vegetarierbund Deutschland (VEBU) estimates that about 7.8 million Germans are vegetarians, and around 900,000 are vegans.

Vegetarianism in Religion
Believe it or not, there are actually religions that promote vegetarianism or even make it mandatory! Most of them originated in India — no wonder more than 30 percent of their population is vegetarian. The strictest is called Jainism. Jains aren’t allowed to eat anything that contains a dead animal body. So no meat AND no eggs. In Hinduism and Buddhism there are some schools that don’t allow the consumption of meat. And there are even some Christian groups that encourage their members to be vegetarian. Which brings us to the next point…

The First Vegetarian Society
Yes, there actually is a vegetarian society! It was founded as early as 1847 in England, and is thus the oldest vegetarian organization worldwide. Many of its early members were inspired by Reverend William Cowherd, who belonged to the Bible Christian Church and promoted vegetarianism. According to their homepage, the Vegetarian Society aims to inform people about the vegetarian diet and help them to maintain it. Oh, and they even have a cookery school!

Famous Vegetarians
What do Einstein, Aristotle, Kafka and Gustave Flaubert have in common? Yup, they all were vegetarians. But it’s not just these “old souls” that did without meat. Apparently, celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, Paul McCarthy and Kim Basinger have dedicated themselves to vegetarianism. If you wanna find out if your favorite celebrity is one of the many vegetarians and vegans in the world of glitz and glam, here’s a full list.

Why Do We Say “Vegetarian”?
The word “vegetarian” is said to have been in use since the early 19th century and was probably hugely promoted by the Vegetarian Society. Some say it is a compound of vegetable and the commonly used suffix -arian — which actually seems pretty logical. But then there are some people who say it derives from the Latin word “vegetus” which can be translated as invigorating, lively, active and energetic. Where it actually comes from – oh well – we’ll probably never know. Maybe someone just woke up one day and thought the term “vegetable diet” sounded boring and then came up with a new word!

Text & picture: Nadine Ellinger

Fighting food waste – Foodsharing in Augsburg

foodwaste 1

I recently read an article in the Augsburger Allgemeine about food waste in Germany: nearly 2 tons of food were thrown away in 10 days at the Mensa of Uni Augsburg! And when I worked at a greengrocer’s in Augsburg, I was able to take a look “behind the scenes” of the food industry. So I saw with my own eyes how much food is actually wasted and how much everything in our capitalist society is based on making a profit. I was shocked when I looked into the garbage cans behind the shop, filled with food that – in my eyes – was still edible. But in other people’s eyes, this food had to be thrown away, because it didn’t look good enough to be put on display in a shop. I came to the conclusion that shopkeepers often don’t value the food they sell– for them, it’s only about making money.

That’s why I think supporting projects like “Foodsharing” is important. Foodsharing is a non-profit organization founded in Germany and their aim is to reduce the waste of resources and food. On the website www.foodsharing.de you can check for “Essenskörbe”, which are posted by people who have food to share. In their post, they describe what they can give away and where you could pick it up. Anyone who is interested can contact this person in order to pick up the food at their place. In the same way, you can offer food to other people via the foodsharing website.

foodwaste 2Also it’s possible to share food via a “Fair-Teiler”, a store room with a fridge which is publically accessible. Food donations can be deposited there, to be collected by anyone interested. Another step in participating actively in foodsharing is becoming a “foodsaver”, which means going to shops which have made an agreement with foodsharing and picking up food they would normally throw away. The foodsavers collect the saved food and share it with their family, friends, neighbors and donate it to social projects.

There are certain rules you have to respect when participating in foodsharing, the most important being that the food you share with the community must still be of good quality to eat. Furthermore, foodsavers commit themselves to collecting the food from shops on a regular basis (In order to become a foodsaver, you need to pass a quick exam on the website and you need to complete three test collections from shops). If not, the shopkeepers would soon lose their interest in giving the food away, because it’d mean extra time and work for them. Another principle is, that alcohol cannot be shared in the Fair-Teiler, because the age of the people who pick up the food cannot be monitored.

In Augsburg, there is a growing foodsharing community. There are several foodsavers and two Fair-Teiler stations, one of them in the Grandhotel Cosmopolis. The Facebook group “Foodsharing Augsburg”, in which ideas about foodsharing are shared and Essenskörbe are linked, has over 2100 members.

foodwaste 3
Personally, I have made use of foodsharing in several occasions and I think it is a wonderful idea. How many students wouldn’t want to save a bit of cash? I always finish my helping. The awareness of the effort it needed for my food to get on the plate, that it had to be planted, watered, harvested, processed and finally cooked, hinders me from just throwing it away. However, there are still a lot of people who apparently don’t mind, or, who are simply not mature enough to know how much they can eat.

I hope that those people who aren’t bothered about our resources are bothered with our current weather and keep the good old German proverb in mind: “If you finish your plate, the sun will shine tomorrow!” We’d really need this to happen. And also, that the food they’re throwing away could save people from starving, in other parts of the world…

Author: Sabrina Huck
Pictures: Elke Thiergärtner (Foodsharing Augsburg)

Berlin Experience Extraordinaire

berlin 1

Travelling is a great way to spend lots of money. It doesn’t always have to be super expensive though. One way of saving money while travelling is to start by exploring your own country. Germany has a lot to offer, among others my favourite city: Berlin. There’s so much to do there that it can be hard to decide what to do first. So here’s a list of my favourite things to do in the capital.

Berlin’s oldest secret: Don’t ever take one of the tourist buses! Seriously, don’t take one unless you enjoy wasting money on things no one needs. Take the bus #200 from Alex to Zoo and the #100 back and I swear you’ll see everything you need to see and more. And if you already have a day ticket you don’t even have any extra expenses. You won’t have anyone telling you when the Reichstag was built or how tall the TV Tower is, but if you really want to know all that, check out a Berlin Guide from your local library and spend the money you saved on food or books.

berlin 2

Dussmann
berlin 3Everyone who knows me, knows Dussmann. Why? Because I talk about it pretty much 24/7. It’s a bookstore made of five floors of awesomeness. You need the Latin edition of Harry Potter? Go to Dussmann. Or are you looking for your favourite band’s latest album? You’ll find it at Dussmann. Maybe you prefer it as vinyl? Dussmann is your place to be. The best thing about Dussmann, though, is the English bookshop which you’ll find at the very back on the ground floor. I am pretty sure it’s the biggest English bookshop in the whole of Germany, and definitely worth a visit!
http://www.kulturkaufhaus.de/


Wonderpots/Friedrichsstraße

berlin 4The best frozen yogurt in town! Wonderpots has three different locations in Berlin but the one on Friedrichsstrasse is without a doubt the coolest one. The frozen yogurt is super yummy but it’s also a really great place to just hang out. You can enjoy your froyo sitting on a garden chair or if you like it a bit more comfy on one of their sofas. My special tip: Choose one of the seats outside. You’ll have a perfect view of the Humboldt University Library and let’s be honest: there is something awfully satisfying about knowing that students inside are studying for exams or working on their thesis while you’re enjoying the food of the gods.
http://www.wonderpots.de/

Burgermeister                                                   berlin 5
A burger joint in an old school restroom may sound a bit strange but the burger at Burgermeister is seriously one of the best I’ve ever had. Judging from the long line that will await you there, I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Their choice of burgers isn’t huge but there’s still a burger for every taste. They are fresh, super tasty and surprisingly cheap. So if you don’t mind eating your burger while standing squeezed in between two relatively busy roads, you should give Burgermeister a try.
http://www.burgermeister.berlin/

Author & Pictures: Katrin Bottke