Within the first few days of commencing my au pair duties here in Germany, I went grocery shopping with HostdDad. My primary observation was the packaging of foodstuff. Had I eaten a slice of Dutch Space cake that had caused me to grow, and subsequently my environment to shrink? [http://www.amsterdamlogue.com/space-cakes-a-5-hour-mental-party.html] Rice in 500 gram packages…Muesli, 1/4 the size of a generic Canadian box of cereal, milk sold (only) by the litre. Why? Was there literally less shelf space in European grocery stores? Had Ikea placed a quota on the size of refrigerators? Or is this a relic of a world war- a former strategy for rationing food?
With an arsenal of unanswered questions, I was later confronted with some very conflicting observations.
A couple days later HostDad served me an Erdinger Weissbier dinner. What a legitimate beer. “Okay, the rice is sold in 500 gram packages and this bottle of beer is at least twice the size of a Canadian beer. Passing judgement, I can conclude that at least Germans have their priorities right.” Candid confession: I fell asleep watching a horrid Hugh Grant movie that evening before I was even able to finish this beer. My next encounter with quirky quantities occurred last Sunday. While on a lazy stroll through the Altstadt with the Hostfamily, we sat down in a quaint cafe for a coffee and desert. When my desert arrived at the table, a piece of cake, I had to gingerly retrieve my jaw from the floor. “Annette gained fifteen pounds in two weeks on her vacation to Germany!” ran through my head. Oh lord! Needless to say I literally did. not. eat. dinner that evening. My final encounter with obscene sizing is in regards to feminine hygiene products. (I’ve nicely juxtaposed this topic with cake, nice hey??) To spare the male readers, I’m not going to go into details but I am indeed a lady and require certain accommodations. Let’s just say that said run-of-the-mill, “regular” absorbency item in Canada is dwarfed by that of the German “normal” one. This intimidating tampon could probably absorb your small Tim Horton coffee if provided the opportunity. Enough about that.
General consensus: as a North American I must have distorted perceptions of portions and quantities due to beloved corporations. As well, Ikea must have crafted kitchen ideals on this densely populated continent that warrants the production of small packaging. When it comes to sweets and beer, portions inflate and German women must suffer heavy flows.
As concluded by me.