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  • Post #31 - November 28th, 2004, 1:12 pm
    Post #31 - November 28th, 2004, 1:12 pm Post #31 - November 28th, 2004, 1:12 pm
    You're absolutely right, Steve; German-Americans with wealth weren't victims in any real sense of the word (certainly not in the way their European cousins were), and it's my fault if that wasn't clear from my earlier post. My argument is (or was supposed to be) that German-American culture in some sense was victimized, perhaps to some degree hastened or at least allowed to happen by the German-Americans themselves -- so I certainly wasn't trying to portray that group as blameless or having been victimized. Although some of the factors Mike and others are pointing to here (e.g., lack of a steady stream of immigrants) probably have a lot to do with the "fadeout" of German culture in America, the point I was making is that there was also a very conscious political effort - possibly in part by German-Americans themselves - to hasten that fadeout. That effort (including expunging the names of cultural identifiers and institutions, dropping German language from religious services, the struggles for German language education, etc.) took place more or less overnight at distinct and identifiable times in the last century -- i.e., during times of war with Germany. Since it has been almost 60 years since the last such event ended, the natural fadeout process is clearly more at work today than it was in the first half of the 20th century. But my thesis, for what it's worth, is that the fate of German-American culture was probably sealed, intentionally and relatively quickly, between 1914 and 1945. (By the way, here's a very short but informative piece discussing some of the steps taken during times of war in reference to German-American culture: German-Americans in Times of Stress. I'm sure you could find similarly shameful treatment of other ethnic groups in America during times of war.)
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on November 28th, 2004, 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #32 - November 28th, 2004, 3:54 pm
    Post #32 - November 28th, 2004, 3:54 pm Post #32 - November 28th, 2004, 3:54 pm
    Actually, there's at least one notable sign of the effort by German-Americans after WWII to polish the image of German culture in Chicago-- the statue of Goethe in Lincoln Park. (There's also one of Schiller down by the zoo, though I think it's quite a bit older, dating back to the period when Schiller was idolized by German-Americans who opposed slavery and was seen as a sort of honorary Illinois Republican-- hence the street name, too.)

    While we're on the subject of Axis powers putting up statues in Chicago, there's also the ancient Roman column which Mussolini's air marshall, Italo Balbo, gave to the city when he was the toast of the Century of Progress Exposition in '34. (Yes, he got a drive named for him too, not to mention an L stop in the movie The Fugitive.) You can still read Mussolini's name in the pedestal, although as I recall the gold leaf for that part has been allowed to disappear, making it less obvious to the casual viewer (and given its semi-obscure location near Soldier Field, few folks probably ever notice it).
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  • Post #33 - November 28th, 2004, 4:04 pm
    Post #33 - November 28th, 2004, 4:04 pm Post #33 - November 28th, 2004, 4:04 pm
    Mike G wrote:While we're on the subject of Axis powers putting up statues in Chicago


    I knew about the Balbo statue, which was signed, sealed and delivered by il Duce himself, but were either of the German statutes you mention funded by the German (Nazi or later) government? In any event, the statues haven't helped much. :mrgreen:
  • Post #34 - November 28th, 2004, 4:14 pm
    Post #34 - November 28th, 2004, 4:14 pm Post #34 - November 28th, 2004, 4:14 pm
    I can't find a date on the Schiller but my memory is that it might even be pre-WWI, certainly pre-WWII. The Goethe dates to 1956, so it's definitely part of a postwar image campaign. Neither was thus given by the Nazis, and I suspect they were donated privately by one of the many German-American friendship organizations which have existed at different times, though especially during the Cold War I'm sure the German government gave it every blessing.

    Balbo also gave Chicago the Columbus monument that's somewhere around the same area as the column; it has his name but not, I think, Mussolini's, though maybe once it did. Actually the irony there is that that monument, like Columbus Day and the statues of Washington and Columbus together you see here and there (as on St. Alphonsus near Addison and Ashland), was part of a general Italian-American effort in the 20s and 30s to clean up the image of Italians in the city of Capone. Which means the message of Balbo's gifts was basically, "When you think Italians, don't think of some Little Caesar with an army of goons who clawed his way to power over the bodies of his enemies-- think of Benito Mussolini!"
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  • Post #35 - November 28th, 2004, 5:49 pm
    Post #35 - November 28th, 2004, 5:49 pm Post #35 - November 28th, 2004, 5:49 pm
    MikeG wrote:Cast an issue vaguely enough and who can disagree. Mennonites must be German, they sure ain't Hawaiian.


    Speaking of vagueness... Precisely who cast which issue so vaguely?

    What I said about the dissident religious groups in question apparently doesn't really ring true for you, but your disagreement seems completely based on your personal knowledge of the Mennonites of Kansas. I know nothing specifically about the Mennonites of Kansas and will gladly leave them out of consideration for the present purposes. Indeed, even leaving aside the groups, such as the Low German speaking Mennonites in British Columbia to whom I referred above and whom I know to have retained a conscious sense of being German, there remains the largest such religious group and the one earliest to settle in North America, namely, the Amish, who spent nary a day in Russia. I think at a basic level they have long become very much an ethnic group unto themselves, but they have done so clearly by a) being a religious based community and one whose religion was outside of the mainstream of society and b) maintaining all manner of cultural traits which continued and built on their German cultural background and were distinct from traditions of the surrounding Anglo-American society. And when one speaks of culture in such a context, one is speaking of things ranging from language to food to dress to farming methods to folk medicine to superstitions, etc., etc. Indeed, as you might observe, they are not Hawaiian.

    The reason why I originally brought up the issue of the German groups which have resisted assimilation to such a degree was to relativise the general impression that Germans that came to this country were especially eager to assimilate. Germans in general did assimilate quickly but again, for the most part, in patterns and under conditions which are similar to what we see with other northern European groups. The one major difference is, as Jim pointed out and I believe is true, that the assimilation process was hastened by the intense negative feelings of Anglo-Americans towards Germans at the outbreak of World War I. In general, I think it hardly unreasonable or historically unjustified to say that German minorities elsewhere in the Americas and in various places in Europe have tended to be remarkably resistant to assimilation. The particular conditions of a new and open society that Germans and other Northern Europeans from outside the British Isles found here, together with the negative impulse from the rather bizarre anti-German movement of 1914 (was the Kaiser so much worse than his cousins in Moscow and London?), resulted in a remarkably reduced German cultural stamp on this country, given their numbers here.

    That the Bavarian beer-hall bash bears no relation to gatherings of Mennonites or Amish is a rather trite observation. The fact is, most North Germans view such scenes as no less colourful, to use a fairly neutral term, than New Yorkers do rodeos.

    Back to food. A long time ago, on another food-board, JeffB wondered whether perhaps it might not be a good time for some enterprising young German chef to come to Chicago and open a place that does offer German food, perhaps not just traditional things but with at least a decent representation of the traditional 'Pan-German' repertoire. That would be good. Berghoff is a nice place but its German offerings are mostly bad. Resi's is remarkably good for what is, in essence, a neighbourhood bar with a postage-stamp kitchen. I have yet to get to Laschet's and look forward to doing so, in part because -- I hear tell -- they are North Germans and if they haven't given in to the expectations of Oktoberfest revellers, perhaps they have some less common things to eat ... Eel, Fischklopse???

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #36 - November 28th, 2004, 6:06 pm
    Post #36 - November 28th, 2004, 6:06 pm Post #36 - November 28th, 2004, 6:06 pm
    I just want to thank the moderators for allowing this discussion to continue, despite the epic thread hijack. This would've been squelched about five posts back on CH. (Nevertheless, thanks Antonius for actually mentioning food in your post, above.)
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on November 28th, 2004, 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #37 - November 28th, 2004, 6:17 pm
    Post #37 - November 28th, 2004, 6:17 pm Post #37 - November 28th, 2004, 6:17 pm
    Antonius wrote:(was the Kaiser so much worse than his cousins in Moscow and London?)


    Maybe so, maybe not, but the Kaiser's cousins didn't sink the Lusitania, for what it's worth. Not that they wouldn't have sunk some other passenger ship given the chance, it's just that as things worked out they did not, and therefore didn't have to face the bad publicity. It just goes to show that if you're going to kill a group of 1,195 innocent people, you ought to try to make them peasants or colonists rather than Americans, and whatever you do, keep it out of the papers. (Actually, only 123 of the victims were Americans, but who's counting?)
  • Post #38 - November 28th, 2004, 7:00 pm
    Post #38 - November 28th, 2004, 7:00 pm Post #38 - November 28th, 2004, 7:00 pm
    Now I'm like Rob, I've kind of lost your point. I guess this is mine:

    A beer hall in Salzburg is not, as you surely know, in Bavaria, but neither does it exist in Imaginary Touristland or Cultural Cartoonville; unless we are claiming that Germans and Austrians do not like to go drinking dark beer of an evening. My observations of the locals around me suggested people who were not simply faking it for my benefit, so I'm going to go out on a limb here, call me crazy, and say that the culture of beer drinking and gemutlichkeit in German countries is for real.

    And... it's becoming rarer in this country because old school German stuff is so utterly, quaintly unfashionable. Now, there are Germanic peoples in this country who, living largely outside any notion of fashion, maintain Germanic traditions. Those traditions may be deeply, sincerely, profoundly German in all sorts of philosophical ways. Or not. But, precisely for the religious reasons that make them a little German island in our culture, they don't maintain those Germanic restaurant and bar traditions which were, presumably, the main point of discussion on a food board.

    So, you're right, Mennonites are pretty dang German. You still can't get a BBK there. (I visited Mennonites in Ontario once and believe me, it was a relief when my wife and I went up the CN Tower by ourselves, our hosts deciding to save the money and stay at street level, and we realized that at long last, we were alone somewhere that sold beer.)

    This all seems to me not only fairly obvious (ie., if you're looking for a German restaurant that has a fine selection of beers, don't look in an Old Order community) but an awfully small point to have had its hairs split quite so finely. As compensation for my part in dragging this out as far as it's gone, I will now share one of my mother's grandmother's recipes, which I am certain is not on the menu of any German restaurant in town.

    Plume Mooss, or Kjoaschemooss (Cherry Mooss)

    The traditional side-dish to serve with varenyky or borscht, or awajebrodne schauble etc.... Plume Mooss is NOT Darwin's* favorite-- he and his siblings called it dead toads or some such thing. It's an acquired taste!

    1 C raisins
    1 C prunes
    1 small lemon sliced into thin rounds
    1 C dried apricots
    cornstarch, star anise, stick cinnamon, sugar

    Simmer fruit, in enough water to just cover, until tender. Add spices, and a little cornstarch, mixed with water, to thicken. Then add sugar to taste. Simmer until clear. Some add cream, but we didn't. For Cherry Mooss mix a T of cornstarch to 1/2 C water, add to the cherries and juice from a can or two pitted unsweetened pie cherries. Add sugar, a dash of almond extract, and simmer until clear. When cooled add some cream.

    * My brother-in-law, who has closer relations to the traditional Mennonites than anyone in my family-- my mom's in with the hipper, do-service-in-the-third-world** Mennos.

    ** Interestingly, to the point of just how isolated and culturally pure the Mennonites have remained, my mom's favorite Mennonite cookbook is one that comes from the MCC*** and thus is full of recipes like "Belizean Potato Salad" and "Pumpkin Leaves with Groundnuts (Zambia)."

    *** Mennonite Central Committee, the social relief organization.
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  • Post #39 - November 28th, 2004, 7:12 pm
    Post #39 - November 28th, 2004, 7:12 pm Post #39 - November 28th, 2004, 7:12 pm
    Okay, now I think deciding how guilty the Kaiser was for sinking the Lusitania is definitely beyond the purposes of a food board. The rest had some tangential relation to our point (why there's so little German-American culture in a city and country where Germans are one of the larger ethnic groups), but that's definitely out.

    Besides, as this actual footage shows, they were guilty as sin.
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  • Post #40 - November 29th, 2004, 9:55 am
    Post #40 - November 29th, 2004, 9:55 am Post #40 - November 29th, 2004, 9:55 am
    I was talking about the decline or loss of a lot of German restaurants in the area with my partner, who is very fond of German food-- as well as Polish. I wonder if part of it isn't as simple as the perception that the food is fattening. I think people blieve it's difficult to eat German even on Atkins because of the number of meat dishes that are breaded.
  • Post #41 - November 29th, 2004, 10:23 am
    Post #41 - November 29th, 2004, 10:23 am Post #41 - November 29th, 2004, 10:23 am
    Hi,

    The decline in popularity of German food predates the current wave of Atkin's.

    About two years ago, I visited Mader's in Milwaukee in search of a German meal. They had 'lite' versions of German classics and sunflower seeds in the salads. If and when I ever return, I will be reading the menu first before sitting down. If 'lite' remains on the menu, then I will go somewhere else.

    My Oma's food we assumed was German. However, when my Dad went to Germany in the late 1950's, he discovered his Mother was making some modified versions of German food. He learned he didn't particularly like German food, though he like his Mother's food. Oma didn't learn to cook at home, she learned after she married while living in Chicago. Her circle of friends were all German, so I am sure they influenced her though her tastes evolved. She also had to contend with my Opa's food preferences. He grew up in the North, whose favored starch was potatoes. He did not like spaetzle, which she favored growing up in the south. Spaetzle was served when Opa was not coming home for dinner.

    I was in Hamburg last year where we went to a classic German restaurant. Though the Germans are a lot like us expecting choices from a wider range of cuisines than their parents ever considered.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #42 - November 29th, 2004, 10:35 am
    Post #42 - November 29th, 2004, 10:35 am Post #42 - November 29th, 2004, 10:35 am
    Cathy, I think she was saying that German food had not benefited from the potential the Atkins thing offered, and that it was still on the longterm decline you're talking about.

    I think that's true, and though the idea of some hot chef revitalizing German cuisine is appealing (actually, years ago in a piece of fiction I had, for comic purposes, a trendy German chef making tilapiaschnitzel and blutwurst satay), I tend to think that the basic components of German or Northern European food generally just aren't varied or universally appealing enough to allow this-- sauerkraut is never going to be the next garlic, creamed herring the next chevre. Even French, after all, has been a hard sell next to the international spread of Italian and vaguely "Mediterranean" international cuisine, which has so many more appealing constituent ingredients to draw upon. Of course, there could always be a genius out there to prove me wrong, but it's worth noting that there is one top-flight celebrity chef from Austria already, and he's known for a very internationalized California fusion cuisine, not for selling wienerschnitzel in airports.
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  • Post #43 - November 29th, 2004, 10:55 am
    Post #43 - November 29th, 2004, 10:55 am Post #43 - November 29th, 2004, 10:55 am
    Hi,

    I just found German version of the Atkin's diet.

    Guests at the restaurant can get the diet pork knuckle for around $10, including a generous helping of sauerkraut and half a litre of famous German Starkbier beer.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #44 - November 29th, 2004, 10:59 am
    Post #44 - November 29th, 2004, 10:59 am Post #44 - November 29th, 2004, 10:59 am
    Mike G wrote:Cathy, I think she was saying that German food had not benefited from the potential the Atkins thing offered, and that it was still on the longterm decline you're talking about.

    I think that's true, and though the idea of some hot chef revitalizing German cuisine is appealing (actually, years ago in a piece of fiction I had, for comic purposes, a trendy German chef making tilapiaschnitzel and blutwurst satay), I tend to think that the basic components of German or Northern European food generally just aren't varied or universally appealing enough to allow this-- sauerkraut is never going to be the next garlic, creamed herring the next chevre. Even French, after all, has been a hard sell next to the international spread of Italian and vaguely "Mediterranean" international cuisine, which has so many more appealing constituent ingredients to draw upon. Of course, there could always be a genius out there to prove me wrong, but it's worth noting that there is one top-flight celebrity chef from Austria already, and he's known for a very internationalized California fusion cuisine, not for selling wienerschnitzel in airports.


    I am not sure this is all that true. For one thing, a glance at Spago's menu shows Wiernerschnitzel on the menu along with other dishes from Wolf's long ago past. For another thing, an equally famous chef has done his thing with stylized Austrian (ish) food. New York also has a very trendy, very highly acclaimed Scandanavian restaurant.

    I think the thing is two-fold. First, it's just kinda accidental to a certain extent, what gets where. Chicago is THE outpost for haute Mexican, but only 'cause Bayless decided to settle here. If Wolfgang Puck settled in Chicago, maybe Austrian food would be cool. Rich Mellman has tackled Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Mexican, and pan-Asian, but he's never been interested in Northern European food. Because, probably, two, the existence of the classic, perhaps bad, versions of German food in places like Chicago and Milwaukee has discouraged chefs from making it more hip.

    So, I reject the idea that German and other Northern European foods are forever passe. Rather, it is just a result of circumstances that we are not seeing them better executed in Chicago.
  • Post #45 - November 29th, 2004, 11:26 am
    Post #45 - November 29th, 2004, 11:26 am Post #45 - November 29th, 2004, 11:26 am
    Mike G wrote:[a] A beer hall in Salzburg is not, as you surely know, in Bavaria...

    [b] Now I'm like Rob, I've kind of lost your point...


    a) Yes, quite, but in the interest of brevity I left it at 'Bavarian'. Salzburg is firmly in the midst of the Bavarian dialect area and the cultural affinities between much of Austria and the German state of Bavaria need not be belaboured.

    b) I thought it was your point he didn't get and I felt that way too. Be that as it may, the point of my reference to beer-halls in the previous post was this: the stereotypical image of beer garden hijinks with stout Lederhosen-clad fellows and buxom women in Dirndl-costumes, swilling beer, eating sausages, joking about farts, all to the strains of an oompah-band, bears a certain relation to a certain social reality in a certain part of Germany (and Austria). But one need not go to the extreme lengths of invoking Mennonites in Canada or Chihuahua to find that the beer-hall thing is not shared by all Germans.

    Generalisations are often (not always) useful insofar as one tries to capture truths with them, while hopefully remaining aware of the limitations involved. Stereotypes are rarely if ever so, for -- it seems to me -- they are more about propagating untruths born of ignorance. Beer-halls do thrive in parts of Germany but they offer a poor representation of German culture as a whole; that's not to say I'm against beer-halls but you seem to take participation in Oktoberfest as a requirement for being German -- it's not.

    Beer halls are fine -- for those who like them. And it's good, I suppose, that the stereotypical beer-garden image is, for obvious reasons, somewhat marketable in this country and sufficiently attractive to allow for the survival of a modest number of German restaurants that feature it.

    ***

    A further factor in the assimilation of German-Americans to non-German food-ways, I would dare say, is the fact that Germans and most especially North Germans have not traditionally made food a cultural priority. Of course, all peoples have their culinary traditions and beloved dishes and drinks, but it is to my mind an obvious difference between northern Europe and southern Europe that less creative energy has been traditionally expended on the culinary arts in the north and that food has been concomitantly less an important familial and ethnic focal point. In the context of the United States then, the (North) Germans, Dutch, and Scandinavians met an Anglo-American mainstream that in part had a similar cuisine and in greater part had a similar attitude to food. To sum this attitude up somewhat tritely but not completely inaccurately, one eats to live, rather than living to eat.

    The border line in Europe for the split between a northern area in which the culinary arts are a relatively less central cultural field and a southern area in which the culinary arts are a relatively more central cultural field ignores language lines and passes through the Low Countries and Germany, leaving Belgium more on the side of the south but the Netherlands very much a member of the northern area, and in Germany leaving the Swabians on the one hand and Bavarians and Austrians on the other hand taking a similar position to Belgium. (N.B. Switzerland provides an interesting wrinkle to this problem that deserves lengthier treatment than is possible here on a Monday morning). The Swabians' brethern on the left bank of the Rhine, the Alsatians, are firmly in the southern group, with an especially strong affection for la religion de la table.

    One must further note that the border posited here does not conform to the famous beer (north)-wine (south) line but it does run parallel to and fairly near it; this border stands in a similar relationship to the basic Protestant (north) - Catholic (south) boundary, albeit with some notable deviations (e.g., Swabia is predominantly Protestant; the southern half of the Netherlands is predominantly Catholic).

    To bring this together, the thesis is that: for most Germans, especially those from the central and northern parts of the country, as for most Scandinavians and Dutchmen, food traditions were not as important a part of daily life as they were for other immigrant groups, most notably those from southern and eastern Europe. In this regard, they fit easily into mainstream Anglo-American society, which already had a similar cuisine. Germans and Dutchmen (and later perhaps the Scandinavians too) did, however, help reshape somewhat the mainstream cuisine, out of which came the basic 'American cuisine'. Later, bits of other ethnic cuisines have made their way into the mainstream cuisine, but then in very transformed form.

    This discussion covers complex things in extremely broad strokes, leaving out of consideration, for example, the regional cuisines of the US, but I do believe that at a basic level this view is correct.

    Let me add too that I am NOT saying that I think all northern European food is bad. I don't; but I do firmly believe that northern Europeans have in general tended to devote less communal time and energy on the making, consuming and discussing of food. What one doesn't care passionately about, one won't fight to keep.

    Antonius
    _________________
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #46 - November 29th, 2004, 11:43 am
    Post #46 - November 29th, 2004, 11:43 am Post #46 - November 29th, 2004, 11:43 am
    Antonius wrote:A further factor in the assimilation of German-Americans to non-German food-ways, I would dare say, is the fact that Germans and most especially North Germans have not traditionally made food a cultural priority.
    Antonius


    I cannot speak really to German treatment of food, but in another Northern European enviroment, Wales, food was treated a lot more respectfully than might be imagined. Now, while the families I knew in Cardiff did not eat multi-course meals on a daily basis, they did, almost always, all of them, sit down each Sunday to a very traditional lunch (and a Jewish family I often broke bread with did the same on Friday nights). Now, some of the food I tried at various meals was stereotypically awful, others was very good (if not truly elegant).

    Yes, people in countries NOT France did not develop as extensive a restaurant culture, but I think food and family meals did play a strong role.

    rg
  • Post #47 - November 29th, 2004, 11:45 am
    Post #47 - November 29th, 2004, 11:45 am Post #47 - November 29th, 2004, 11:45 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    I just found German version of the Atkin's diet.

    Guests at the restaurant can get the diet pork knuckle for around $10, including a generous helping of sauerkraut and half a litre of famous German Starkbier beer.



    I love that!

    Yes, sorry, I was not clear. I did mean that you might think Atkins would help, but it hasn't.
  • Post #48 - November 29th, 2004, 11:57 am
    Post #48 - November 29th, 2004, 11:57 am Post #48 - November 29th, 2004, 11:57 am
    Antonius, you accuse me of stereotyping only by carrying the stereotype much, much further than I ever did. Frankly, I had a fantastically good time at that beer hall in Salzburg and I no more disdain the southern Germans and Austrians for their ability to enjoy life than I do New Orleansians (or whatever the descriptor would be). Or perhaps more to the point, than I do Texans, as the North vs. South German cultural divide sounds more than a little like the one we have between, say, the East Coast and Texas. (Haben sie rotstaats und blaustaats?)

    Likewise, you seek to reduce any sense of what's appealing to us Amurrcans (even us German-Amurrcans) to a matter of mere "marketability." And I guess I categorically reject the idea that "marketability" is synonymous with "superficial," "fake," etc. Certainly it can be-- Outback is marketable "Australian" which could hardly be more inauthentic and cooked up in an ad agency-- but there are also cases where things are popular because they authentically and naturally contain the elements of popularity. So I do not hold it against Southern Germans that they can show others a good time, too. (Of course the irony is that we're now accusing them of being fake for being too marketable, even though the whole discussion is about why German ISN'T marketable any more.)

    Beyond that, well, es tut mir leid, enough said on this topic, every position has surely been stated once and parsed thrice.

    Rob-- maybe Puck slips in a little Austrian food by now. I believe I have read interviews where he talks about rediscovering his own food at long last, and I strongly think he did less of that when he first got started. Remember that we are not only talking about someone whose initial signature dish was a duck sausage and goat cheese pizza (a good example of more or less nation-less international cuisine) but whose first book was about French food.

    As for whether a Melman has failed to drive a German food renaissance that otherwise would have surely happened, I think you could at least as easily make the case that he doesn't dabble in cuisines where he doesn't see market opportunity, and so his failure to go into that kind of food is more evidence that German food is indeed passe by modern eating habits and unlikely to see revival, even in the hands of someone who can seemingly market ANYTHING.
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  • Post #49 - November 29th, 2004, 12:20 pm
    Post #49 - November 29th, 2004, 12:20 pm Post #49 - November 29th, 2004, 12:20 pm
    Antonius wrote:A further factor in the assimilation of German-Americans to non-German food-ways, I would dare say, is the fact that Germans and most especially North Germans have not traditionally made food a cultural priority.
    Antonius



    Vital Information wrote:Yes, people in countries NOT France did not develop as extensive a restaurant culture, but I think food and family meals did play a strong role.


    I knew it was risky to write what I wrote because there is an enormous amount of room for the position I try to express to become restated and distorted. I'm not saying you're distorting what I said but I do feel I need to be more explicit.

    What I'm not claiming is:
    a) all northern European food is bad.
    b) all northern Europeans don't care about food.
    c) northern Europeans don't have cherished food traditions.
    d) northern Europeans eat purely as a biological function.
    e) etc. etc.

    What I am claiming is the following. Some cultures put priorties in different endeavours (and the priorities can change over time). The Netherlandish passion for painting stands in contrast to the realtively much more modest output in this field in England, a country much larger than the Dutch-speaking lands and hardly a place uninterested in art. The English have produced some great paintings but the focus of their artistic energies have tended to be elsewhere.

    Some cultures expend vastly more time and energy on food than others. Time not in terms so much of actual cooking but 'mental time', time spent dreaming about, mulling over, discussing food. Italians and Frenchmen and Mexicans do spend a lot of time that way. In my experience, most Scandinavians and Hollanders don't. I have had hour-long conversations on food with Mexicans I meet in the local watering holes, and I find that most Mexican guys I meet really enjoy doing that, have lots to say about their cuisine. Food has a central place in one's day to day life (and mental life) for some peoples and it doesn't for some others.

    MikeG:

    You insist on misrepresenting what I say. Hereabove I neither said nor implied there was anything wrong with beer-halls or with marketing beer-halls. But you offered the beer-hall as a sort of universal symbol for for German culture when lots of Germans simply can't go along with that. Yes, they exist, and they can be legitmately entertaining for lots of people, but they are not the national cultural institution for all Germans you seem to think they are.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #50 - November 29th, 2004, 12:51 pm
    Post #50 - November 29th, 2004, 12:51 pm Post #50 - November 29th, 2004, 12:51 pm
    Antonius, honestly, by now I really don't get what it is you're trying to argue (which is not to say that much of what has been generated alongside the argument hasn't been interested and learned, to the extent that your anecdotal personal experience is not necessarily better or worse than my anecdotal personal experience, or indeed, that both aren't largely true).

    Years ago I worked on a commercial for [giant card company deleted] that was supposed to be about Hanukkah. But the problem was, they were deathly afraid that anything that read as "Jewish" in a 30 second commercial would be seen as stereotyping, and thus offensive and cause Letters to be Written. So we had to somehow make a commercial about Hanukkah involving blonde Swedes with Wyoming accents celebrating the eight days by playing touch football in their pagoda, or something like that.

    I kind of feel that's how you feel about German-American restaurants. You want to insist that there is a deep core of German identity which everyone from Carl Schurz to Mennonites shared-- and you may well be right, though I still think a German religious identity like that is something notably distinct from a garden variety German identity. But anything specific I can mention that-- again-- in a restaurant and bar context comes out of that shared identity, strikes you as stereotypical. So I don't know what this ideal German restaurant that's free of beer, gemutlichkeit, dirndls and all the rest is precisely like. But I have a feeling the "Jews" from that TV commercial would be right at home there.

    All right, it seems like I'm making fun of you for having a hard time finding a middle ground between your non-stereotypical experiences in Europe and the restaurant that, as soon as it begins to display German tropes, drives over the cliff of stereotyping. I think it simply points to the fact that any points in common between two ethnic restaurants will start to seem like stereotyping, and that we have to be willing to accept that any ethnic restaurant is a bit of a cartoon of itself-- yet there is a real, and important, distinction between places that cook well, honor their traditions, and offer a real picture into a culture-- and those that are indeed, about marketing rather than food.
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  • Post #51 - November 29th, 2004, 3:20 pm
    Post #51 - November 29th, 2004, 3:20 pm Post #51 - November 29th, 2004, 3:20 pm
    Whew! Talk about a hijacking!
    Thanks everyone for the lessons on German immigration and cuisine. Someday I'll add my own spin on when I'm not so busy at work.

    Perhaps we should ask Dr. Sowell to join the thread. He did answer an e-mail I sent him once.

    I agree there is certainly much better German food than The Berghoff. You can get better German food at Milwaukee's German Fest.
    The closest German I've found to mom's is at
    http://www.laschetsinn.com/.
    Field's 7th floor was a zoo with a good hour wait. Berhoff had a long line out the door at 11:20 am.

    We ended up at Italian Village again, except they only had room in the La Cantina downstairs, which worked out fine. No waiting, the place was only half full, which made it quiet and relaxing, although a little tight for our large group (you know what I mean if you've been there). Food and service was great, as we weren't looking for anything fancy.
  • Post #52 - November 29th, 2004, 7:25 pm
    Post #52 - November 29th, 2004, 7:25 pm Post #52 - November 29th, 2004, 7:25 pm
    MikeG:

    At one level, I've had enough and feel inclined not to respond. On the other hand, you so badly misrepresent what I have been trying to say that I must respond and try to distance myself from the hapless hobby horse you wish to set me up as.

    This thread took off with a reasoned and reasonable discussion of the question of the cultural assimilation of Germans, an issue which subsumes matters of cuisine but obviously goes broadly beyond them. Agreeing with someone else's contribution, I said that it is indeed true that, generally speaking, Germans assimilated to Anglo-American culture in the States quickly and ultimately thoroughly. I attempted to point out that this is especially interesting since not only have German minorities in other countries tended not to assimilate so quickly (alluded to earlier by JLawrence) but also that, albeit under special circumstances, some German groups in North America have been the most resistant of European groups to cultural assimilation, namely the 'dissident' religious groups (Amish, Mennonites).

    You seemed to take umbrage at this point of mine and said in effect that those groups are not really German - they don't belong to the culture for which you call to mind as symbol the beer-hall. And I in turn object to that kind of simplistic thinking about culture.

    My point is that German culture and indeed most cultures are complex and, insofar as one cares to go beyond the superficial and unreflective, stereotypical images rarely if ever have legitimate applications to the culture as a whole. In this specific case, it is possible for a group to feel themselves to be German and yet have absolutely no interest in or connexion to such externally imposed, stereotypical images as the 'beer-hall'. Repeatedly, I have tried to call to attention the fact that the sort of place you once visited in Salzburg is not something that belongs to the equally authentically German but different regional cultures of much of the rest of Germany.

    In your most recent assault upon the hobby-horse you say: "You want to insist that there is a deep core of German identity which everyone from Carl Schurz to Mennonites shared-- and you may well be right, though I still think a German religious identity like that is something notably distinct from a garden variety German identity."

    That is a gross misunderstanding of what I was saying. I very much believe that two groups of people could both quite legitimately think of themselves as German (or whatever else) and share relatively little in the way of specific Kulturgut (literally: 'cultural goods') but by means of connexion to a series of mutually overlapping intermediary groups, they could well be participants in and 'expressions' of an overarching, national or regional culture. I seriously doubt that in, say, 1912, a Prussian army officer from Konigsberg shared much in common with a pig farmer in the Hunsruck or a fisherman on Sylt or a protestant minister in Tobingen or a beer-hall owner in Munich or a school teacher in Colmar. And regardless of any additional ethnic and religious identities they may have had, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish Germans who quite legitimately saw themselves as and unquestionably were central participants in German culture. And to this variety within the German state, you could add members of German immigrant groups in various countries, including my maternal grandmother in Brooklyn. Most of those people wouldn't have been usual visitors to Bavarian style beer-halls, but they were German in a genuine and meaningful sense: their own cultural identity.

    The ideas you attribute to me about beer-halls are also wrong. I'll admit that they're not my favourite setting but I can enjoy going to one once in a while. Reread the last paragraph of my previous post above.

    And in this regard, make fun of me if you will, but I am not having 'a hard time finding a middle ground between [my] non-stereotypical experiences in Europe and the restaurant that, as soon as it begins to display German tropes, drives over the cliff of stereotyping'. What I'm having a hard time finding is German restaurants in general and German restaurants with good food in particular, period.

    By the way, my 'anecdotal knowledge' of German culture is in part based on a lifetime of close personal contacts with Germans and German-Americans and in part also on three decades of travel and study and research.


    ***

    There are things in the world that are the sources of stereotypes and things that are the products of stereotypes. I have been to beer-halls in Bavaria and they are what they are - which to me is a bit goofy, a bit fun and a worthwhile experience I don't need to repeat too often. That's just me and my personal tastes.

    I have no problem with restaurants in the States that, with some relationship to or knowledge and understanding of the real authentic deal, play up the kitschy elements of some ethnic theme in order to attract business. That can, I think, be done without necessarily being egregiously tasteless. With regard to things German, I spent quite a few Saturday nights as a kid at very kitschy but in part very genuinely German places that too often subjected us all to the Schnitzelbank. Luckily, the places with the best German food and to which we most often went, were also rather more sedate. But some things are just plain repulsive, such as Italian places that decorate according to a mob theme. Shame on them.

    I'm not sure how I would react to the Schnitzelbank these days but I know how I react to marketed concepts that have no personal connexion to the 'real deal', things which easily and inevitably take on the feel of being purely the products of stereotypes. I don't like them at all, but that's just me and my personal tastes.

    Ende.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #53 - November 29th, 2004, 8:03 pm
    Post #53 - November 29th, 2004, 8:03 pm Post #53 - November 29th, 2004, 8:03 pm
    Anyone ever eat at Kegel Inn in West Allis, WI (Milwaukee suburb)?

    Easily accessible from 894, this corner tavern/restaurant retains a whiff of the old days. (I think) it was a speakeasy in Prohibition. It was a family tradition to eat dinner there on visits to Milwaukee's museums and botanical gardens. I remember the sauerbraten, roast duck and potato dumplings very fondly. Don't know what actual chowists would think.

    It's an unchanged corner of my childhood, so forgive this plug. I would hate to see it go under.

    Alriemer
    But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you. Ps 81:16
  • Post #54 - November 29th, 2004, 9:19 pm
    Post #54 - November 29th, 2004, 9:19 pm Post #54 - November 29th, 2004, 9:19 pm
    Antonius, liebchen, bubbele,

    What you read as implacable opposition strikes me as substantial agreement over all but the finer points, yet that modest difference seems to cause you great upset. I recommend dark beer as the most reliable palliative. An old family trick, though it may have come from the Irish side, now that you mention it. Since it's hard to get a good beer in a German Mennonite community, or so I hear...

    Prost,
    Mike,
    who has studied German-Americans by being one for a very long time

    "Ve are too soon oldt und too late shmart."-- Kitschy fake-German plaque on my (authentically German) great-grandmother's kitchen wall
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #55 - November 29th, 2004, 9:59 pm
    Post #55 - November 29th, 2004, 9:59 pm Post #55 - November 29th, 2004, 9:59 pm
    Ding....round over.

    Back to neutral corners.

    Thanks in advance.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #56 - November 30th, 2004, 11:34 am
    Post #56 - November 30th, 2004, 11:34 am Post #56 - November 30th, 2004, 11:34 am
    A few useless points...
    The largest nationality in the US is German.
    This will change in the near future to Hispanic.
    Most German immigrants try hard to hand their culture down to their children, but by the 3rd generation it is usually forgotten or diluted, especially when the kids marry other nationalities.
    It is unpopular to claim to be of German decent (probably something to do with past wars and our reputation for being stubborn, demanding, beer swilling, and gluttonous). I know several people who are, for example, 75% German/25% Italian who tell everyone they are Italian.
  • Post #57 - November 30th, 2004, 12:04 pm
    Post #57 - November 30th, 2004, 12:04 pm Post #57 - November 30th, 2004, 12:04 pm
    It is unpopular to claim to be of German decent (probably something to do with past wars and our reputation for being stubborn, demanding, beer swilling, and gluttonous). I know several people who are, for example, 75% German/25% Italian who tell everyone they are Italian.


    This may well be your experience, it is not mine. I am an American first and foremost. I am an American of German and Irish descent. Every once in a while I will advise my background is European-American for statistical purposes. I have never heard anyone backdown from admitting they were German.

    I'd better get out of here before Gary dings the bell again.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #58 - November 30th, 2004, 3:12 pm
    Post #58 - November 30th, 2004, 3:12 pm Post #58 - November 30th, 2004, 3:12 pm
    >>Most German immigrants try hard to hand their culture down to their children, but by the 3rd generation it is usually forgotten or diluted, especially when the kids marry other nationalities. <<

    That is not true at all. Most German immigrants have STRONGLY discouraged their children from learning the language and the old customs as they value assimilation into the culture.

    I am excluding, obviously, the certain religious groups that strive to maintain their culture - i.e., Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, Amanites, etc. who immigrated for religious freedom reasons.
  • Post #59 - December 1st, 2004, 10:37 am
    Post #59 - December 1st, 2004, 10:37 am Post #59 - December 1st, 2004, 10:37 am
    That is not true at all. Most German immigrants have STRONGLY discouraged their children from learning the language and the old customs as they value assimilation into the culture.


    Depends on who you grew up with. Every family is different. Myself and many other children of immigrants have been encouraged and even forced to embrace German culture and language. I'm sure there are just as many who are encouraged to assimilate. Given that most Germans are exceptionally logical, assimilation into one's adopted country makes the most sense.

    As noted in previous posts, Germans who emmigrated to South America, appear to have maintained stronger ties to their German ancestry. Maybe as minorites they felt more isolated in SA, whereas in the US, they were the comfortable majority, thus making assimilation the easy thing to do. I'm no sociologist or enconomist, thus I defer any complicated arguments regarding assimilation to Dr. Sowell.

    Cathy2, My comments were toungue-in-cheek, as most of them are (I have large cheeks). I'm always proud to say that I'm German (in spite of the occassional negative comment from the ignorant), but am surprised by a few rather shallow acquantances who in private tell me they are mostly German, but in public claim to be whatever nationality they feel will elevate their social status, no matter how distant the ancestor.
  • Post #60 - December 2nd, 2004, 3:58 pm
    Post #60 - December 2nd, 2004, 3:58 pm Post #60 - December 2nd, 2004, 3:58 pm
    Since so much of this thread was about the point where authentic culture gives way to inauthentic kitsch, it's only fitting that I found myself (due to a prior engagement in Traffic Courtroom CL-01) wandering the Christkindlmarkt in the square in front of the Daley center.

    This is a pure expression of authentically imported kitsch, in which Germany is redefined to take in not only Polish and Ukrainian sellers but a couple of stands selling Peruvian and Ecuadoran goods (I have no idea what the logic here is-- Argentina,* maybe, but not Peru). Nevertheless, mainly it is traditional German geegaws, along with some German traditionalish food that might well be worth coming back down to try. I resisted most of my opportunities to buy lace or blown glass, but did go through the Christmas ornament shop, which is quite extraordinarily comprehensive (all of you looking for a Christmas ornament of a gorilla and its child or the space shuttle, this is where you need to go) and, I felt sure, would produce something whose logic as a Christmas ornament would seem totally alien to Americans...

    Image

    ...and here it was. Not the hamburger, that makes perfect sense. It's the guy, who is not a commemorative ornament of Fredric March in Inherit the Wind, as it might appear at first glance, but rather... "Philosoph mit Roter Schleife." Philosopher with red bowtie. What every child wants to hang on the ol' Tannebaum. Instantly, putting the two together, I had a vision of a Traumspiel, a gothic dream play out of Hoffmann, in which the Philosopher, exhausted by his labors and a heavy meal of too much Bratkartoffeln, dreams he is being chased by a giant hamburger-- a Schreckliche-Traumburger. If the Hardee's people need any help with their German launch of the Monster Thickburger, I've got the whole thing worked out.

    * "O'Hara is a very old and established German name. There are many Germans in South America who have come to be called O'Hara." --Peter Lorre, Beat the Devil
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