Eating Pizza Like a local with a Knife and Fork in Germany

eating with a knife and fork in Germany

When in Rome…

Every country has quirks, peculiarities, and social etiquette that contribute to its culture. Some are reasonable, and some can seem odd from an outsider’s perspective. And in Germany, we learned a lot the first day we arrived. For example, eating pizza with a knife and fork is like a local. And it’s adopting these habits into daily life, even if only temporarily, that makes living abroad fun, rewarding, and unpredictable.

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Dbs-eating-sausage-519x692 Eating Pizza Like a local with a Knife and Fork in Germany

Eating Like a Local

Pizza with a Knife and Fork

Eating like a local can feel weird in the beginning. Nothing seemed stranger than eating out in a neighborhood restaurant the day after we arrived in Germany. I’ll never forget that first meal at the local pizza parlor for several reasons. First, don’t stand near the door waiting to be seated; more often than not, self-seating is commonplace. The waitress placed tiny glasses of cool soda with no ice in front of us. And to the mutual ire of both boys—there is no such thing as free refills.

After what seemed like an eternity to my kids, our pizzas finally arrived. However, they were not cut into slices. They weren’t cut at all. We looked around the dining room. We noticed that everyone cut bite-size portions from the pizza instead of the more familiar wedges.

Whole pizzas are meant to be shared, or so I thought. And it’s not unusual to see artichokes, scallops, or balsamic vinegar. Well, everyone does now.

That’s new. A little different, but we shrugged it off and picked up our knife and fork to eat our pizza.

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And Other Things European 

At about the same time, a sweet older couple strode through the wooden doors. They were followed by two very shaggy black dogs. The waitress stopped by the table, stooped down to pet both canines She placed a doggy dish full of water for them to share and proceeded to take their orders.

I was a little dumbfounded. Don’t get upset, I like dogs. Just not as a side dish for my whole pizza.

I take pictures to show our friends and family later. This is commonplace here. The locals take their dogs everywhere. All dogs, not just service dogs are welcome in restaurants. That’s new too.

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European Waiters

You Have to Track Them Down

We sat there that first night for quite a while after we finished eating. Each time waiting for the waitress to ask us if everything was alright or if we wanted anything else. That never happened.

Most European wait staff do not bother you unless you call them. Eating like a local means taking your sweet time. One of the most pleasant habits is that once you sit at a table, you own it for the entire evening. I always hated the barrage of “assist-like questions” that occurred awkwardly mid-sentence.

What’s in Your Wallet?

Always Carry Cash

Many businesses do not accept debit or credit cards. We had just enough money to pay the bill in cash and nothing towards a tip. Contemplating whether to look for an ATM machine or just leave. We chose the latter, feeling a little sheepish and cheap. Ultimately, you don’t have to tip either. Most restaurant bills come with a built-in service fee.

The waitress stood at the table. And counted the money in front of us, which I also thought odd at the time. On the way back to the hotel that evening and after a quick stop at the ATM. We decided to stop for eis (ice cream) and cake only to discover our lessons were far from over.

Eis (Ice Cream) Tips

At what is now “our” table, we were duly informed that cones are for take-out service only. Die Rechnung (the bill) included the tip.

Feeling much better, about the tip earlier, we were able to fully enjoy the ice cream. And eating like a local means the promise of more lessons to come.

Other Tips

Eating Like a Local in Germany

  • Always ask for an English menu, especially in restaurants in big cities or near military bases. They usually have one.
  • When you pay your restaurant bill with a credit card, many waiters carry this pretty cool portable credit card machine that they run right at your table;
  • Tell the server whether you want to pay the bill altogether (Wir zahlen Zusammen, bitte) or separate (Wir zahlen getrennt, bitte);
  • Although tipping is not necessary, l round up to the next full euro amount;
  • However, if you are going to tip, hand it directly to the server, do not leave it on the table;
  • Carry a pocket restaurant guide when you dine out, it really comes in handy;
  • The term “chicken, finger-licking good” does not apply in Germany, they eat that with utensils too;
  • Specifically ask for tap water, which may not be available and is frei, otherwise, you may receive bottled water which is not;
  • Sparkling water is wasser mit gas (water with gas);
  • If you want a medium-well steak, ask for medium; medium ask for rare and so on;
  • Place your money in the small dish, instead of handing the money hand to hand, when ordering over the counter.

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Comments

  1. Courtney

    Hahaha when I was a kid I lived eating pizza with a fork! My parents thought I was nuts. I don’t know why I did that…. lol

  2. Lyosha

    eating pizza with a fork sound horrible! i would rather skip on the whole pizza idea actually. esp in Germany – they have so many great local dishes

  3. NAti

    Reading your post was for me so enlightening about the American culture! I’ve lived in Europe for 15 years now, I’m married to an Italian that I met in England but we live in Switzerland and visit neighbour countries frequently, and everywhere pizza is served to be eaten with fork and knife. My mother in law was Italian and made the best homemade pizza, and she always served it to be eaten with fork and knife. The only pizza I ever eat with my hands is take away street food or so-called “pizza al taglio”!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      You’re right the cultures are different. In essence here in America all pizza is pizza al taglio because its always cut into slices. It is usually larger here, meant to be shared. I will never forget the first time I was served a who pizza!! This is what I love about traveling and borrowed cultures.

  4. Kisha

    I wouldn’t mind eating my pizza with a knife and for at all– but the dogs– that would be a problem for me. Just seems so unsanitary and I can’t even stand when people “try” to get away with that in the States.

  5. Rachel

    I always eat pizza with a knife and fork if I am out – looks much better and I think it makes you taste it more! This has so made me fancy a pizza now!!!

  6. Stacie

    These are all great tips. I would fit right in with the locals and their pizza eating ways. I’ve always eaten my pizza with a knife and fork. LOL

  7. Alexandra

    Great tips! And now I really want pizza 😉 Happy to eat that anyway the locals do. As long as I get to eat it 😀

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I know right. I make my own pizza here and I usually load it up with toppings, so I still eat it with a knife and fork most times. it keeps my fingers cleaner, lol.

  8. duffelbagspouse

    lol, the pizza is delicious. They even have this thinner bread pizza called Flammkuchen in Germany and its really thin, crisp, and cracker-like crust. But instead of tomato sauce they use creme fraiche. Its delicious.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      lol, the pizza is delicious. They even have this thinner bread pizza called Flammkuchen in Germany and its really thin, crisp, and cracker-like crust. But instead of tomato sauce they use creme fraiche. Its delicious.

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