Home Page


Europeans must comment when you're eating.

Bakkery in Utrecht NL at Halloween

Europeans generally consider themselves involved when they see another person eating. The encounter is cause for an obligatory social interaction — as if the person who is eating needs attention and would be offended if it were denied. This custom, courteous and civilized in principle, can be irritating.

The European preoccupation with other people's eating might be most extreme amongst the Germans. The Germans I've lived with have always noticed and commented about what I eat or drink — "more tea," or "spaghetti again?" My first encounter with this phenomenon made me a bit edgy.

I've gotten used to it — sort of.

I've lived with more than one German who found it notable that I fried potatoes for breakfast.* It was, if I may speculate, slightly uncomfortable for them. A Dutch girl I knew, too, found it strange — it was hard to accept potatoes in the morning. Nobody does that, so it's just not acceptable. Not really.

That would never occur to me. More to the point, I wouldn't say anything.

But Europeans appear to feel involved when someone is eating; the tendency is embedded in most of the languages with their compulsory/compulsive well-wishing.

And the Germans* — they want to have a conversation about it.

Bookmark and Share Contact

__   ___   __

*In America, the typical preparation of spuds for breakfast involves the steaming and cooling of the potato, which is then grated and fried — hash browns. Delicious when crispy — and with good ketchup.

  ↑ Return to "potatoes for breakfast." ...

__   ___   __

*To be fair to the Germanics, an Irish friend of mine admitted that he found the idea of having potatoes at breakfast unappealing, and the practice a bit odd. This in spite of the fact that the Irish love the potato as nobody anywhere.

__   ___   __

  ↑ Return to "especially the germanic folk "...