German National Cuisine

If you were to vote for the most famous German food, you would probably have to vote for German sausages, pork knuckles, pork fried steak, sauerkraut and traditional cheese noodles. Just when you think that Germans love their national food, they actually have another favorite.

According to statistics, there are about 16,000 Döner shops in Germany, and there are already 1,000 in Berlin alone. If you want to measure the Germans’ love for Döner, it is about one Döner is eaten by Germans every 7 seconds.

Döner Kebab literally translates as “rotisserie meat”. The meat is inserted on vertical rotating skewers, cooked slowly in an infrared oven, then sliced into thin slices and placed in a grilled pocket of bread with lettuce, tomato, onion, garlic sauce and paprika. A generous portion of döner, priced at around €5, is one of the most affordable national dishes.

Döner’s popularity in Germany also has a history of its own. After World War II, Germany’s population was 8-10 percent smaller than before the war, and there was a shortage of workers, especially men at the grassroots level. In the 1960s, Turkey signed an agreement with Germany to provide a large number of healthy and unmarried Turkish males to work in Germany as guest workers. In the late seventies, small shops selling Döner opened in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and other large cities. In the eighties, Döner spread to the university towns of Tubingen and Freiburg, and the real rise of Döner occurred in the nineties, when Döner shops opened eastward, making the East Germans even more crazy about it.

For many Germans, Döner was their first contact with a foreign culture. The Turks who sold Döner were the first to see that foreigners could join German society outside of their roles as “refugees” and “asylum seekers”. As the largest non-German ethnic group in Germany, their Döner not only became an irresistible delicacy for Germans, but also helped to link the two cultures and was a clear sign of the Turkish immigrants’ socio-cultural and economic influence on Germany.

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