food

14 (German) habits that changed when I moved to Portugal

Being both within Europe, I expected not THAT many cultural differences when I moved from Berlin, Germany, to Portugal end of last year. Except for some things that I already knew, but considered prejudices, I discovered, that there is way more. The following 14 things are just an excerpt of my experiences here …

All pictures (c) NSFoto (me)

1. Regard “5 minutes” as actual 5 minutes on the clock

Although the Latin countries being not on time is a cliché – it is just as true for 90% of the inhabitants. On the contrary, Germans are known for their punctuality, and although personally not being the best example for that, I still was surprised here. If someone tells me “just a minute”, I expect them to take 10, maybe 15min, and if it takes them even longer to ask them what happened. Portuguese just regard time as something way more flexible than Germans. This does not mean that doctor’s appointments or working hours are flexible (a big mistake I made in the beginning), but nobody expects their friends to be at a bar for a drink before an hour after the supposed meeting time.

2. Drinking (American) coffees during the day at work or at home for waking up

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The Portuguese espresso is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. Like Italian? Go to Portugal and you will be even more amazed. Moreover, drinking an espresso in a café, bar, or whatever is cheap. 60c is the basic price, and going for at least one espresso daily is a common social thing and nearly expected of you. Arriving at 11pm in a bar and ordering an espresso? Completely normal.

3. Bothering about my last name. Or, even my first name. Or, real names at all

And for a few reasons:
First, nobody cares much about last names, unless to identify a person (1000s of Joões and Anas, anyone?). Going there with unique looks and a unique first name, nobody cares about my last name. Unless they wanna try how to pronounce it to make fun of the German pronounciation.
Second, because of a way lower variety of both first and last names than in Germany, nicknames here are a given. Especially amongst men, I hardly know anyone usually called by his proper first name. Ranges go from last name, simple short versions, names considering appearances, to ridiculous names know one really remembers where they came from.
And third, as 99% are even pronouncing my (not even German) name wrong when they first try it, and some even keep failing after months, I got used to so many variations, that I basically listen to everything that KINDA sounds like my name. Not kidding. I turn my head thousands of times someone is shouting Gabi (short for Gabriel) instead of Nadin.

4. My view on meals

DSC_0009 (2)Back in Germany, I usually ate a big breakfast early in the morning (7am), a normal lunch, and an early light dinner at 6 or 7, maybe 7.30. The meals consisted of a lot of vegetables, a lot of spices, rarely meat, hardly ever fish, and the food was hardly ever typical German.

Portuguese love their whole culinary – they love their food, meals (at least lunch and especially dinner) are a social event. Their whole way of eating is very different: they don’t use many spices (and even those sparcely), they have this really strange habit of eating rice and fries together, cooked vegetables on the side is a special (although a salad with the meal is normal), and they eat their food cold a lot of times because they get caught up in conversations. Oh, and a meal without meat or fish is not a meal!

5. Being focused on one language

By now I can proudly say I am fluent on a “normal conversation” level in 3 languages, German, English and Portuguese. While in the beginning, I sometimes got confused with only 2 languages, now I can now switch between all 3 within seconds, and even understand a word of Turkish from my flatmate in between. This ability gets lost as soon as I get really tired, but gets doubled with a few drinks 😉

6. Cooking daily

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Eating out is really cheap, especially compared to Germany. And I’m not talking about Fast Food, but whole meals. Plus, drinks are ridiculously cheap from my POV, so why not be a bit more lazy and enjoy a dinner out instead of cooking every day?

7. Actually answering when someone asks how I am

While Germans expect an answer when asking you how you are, and look at you waiting for an answer, the Portuguese “tudo bem?” and its variations is part of the greeting and nobody expects you to give a long answer, or even to answer at all. Seeing someone walking by on the other side of the street? “Olá, tudo bem?” and keep on walking. In Germany, you probably don’t even notice each other because you’re not really looking at who walks by.

8. Seeing my (local) friends once a week max

DSC_0223If I haven’t seen my friends here for 3 days, I’m wondering where they are. People here are socialising a lot, and going for a café or a beer daily or at least every 2nd day is part of the routine. In Germany, even living 15 minutes from one of my best friends, I saw her once a week on the weekend, if even. Completely normal.


9. Being able to go unnoticed

Forget it. Just, forget it. Apart from Portuguese people usually being pretty curious, as a blond blue-eyed girl speaking with an accent, you have all eyes on you within seconds. Especially in Berlin, it’s nearly normal that half of your friends have an immigration background at the least, here people looking like me usually are tourists. Like, 97%. That means that whenever I’m on the streets, I have eyes on me, naturally. Germany is full of tourists and foreign looking people, so nobody cares much about other people on the streets.

10. Vorglühen at home, club later

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In Germany, you meet your friends for Vorglühen at home, a bunch of drinks before usually hitting a club later in the night. But in Portugal, a jantar (pt. for dinner) is the common thing to do here with friends, family, or, even more often, both. You invite them to dinner, have some beer and wine and go to a café / bar later. And if you happen to be really into it, you hit a club in the night. Getting drunk? Not something very usual to do here in general. This is for big celebrations only, not a weekend habit.

11. Thinking of people older than me as people with a lot of dignity and trying to uphold an image

A sorry here to all Germans, but it’s a fact: The major part of Germans is a pretty uptight bunch, at least from age 40 up. Having a woman (not talking about family) that could be your grandma making jokes with AND about you all day is not something I ever saw in Germany. Yes, you see them smile and everything, but gestulating a lot, telling funny stories, even making fun of you? A very rare image and no way anyone would even think of describing a German old lady. Germans seem to reach an age where they think they have to change and go through life with more dignity, they are “too old” for that “young stuff”. But does that really mean having fun in life?

12. Not traveling

DSC_0290 (2)Traveling here is cheap. And you can basically pick a random location on the map, and you’ll find something worth seeing. I hardly ever traveled in Germany – mostly because it was expensive and I thought most beautiful things are outside of the country. This view changed, and if one day I’ll have the time and money to travel around a bit, I certainly will.

13. Not knowing the real differences between German and other European cultures

It is interesting that you actually have to leave your own country to learn more about it, but it is true. Being confronted with a culture, that seems to be so similar on the surface, but is pretty different on the inside, every single day makes you aware of what being German actually means. You learn about prejudices, you understand the small quirks of your native language, the unique things of your culture, etc.

14. Sunny days are special days

DSC_0088 (2)When at the beginning of last December in Portugal there was a day without any clouds and a shining blue sky, I was baffled. In Germany, everyone would have left their house to basically “celebrate” that day. Here, hardly anyone noticed. And I soon saw why, it is just normal.
If the temperature in summer drops below 25, it’s frio. Having clouds on the sky? A bad day.

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How to be in Braga for 5 days, see nothing and get used to eating every hour

I was in Braga with my flatmate and fellow volunteer last week, one of the cities still on my ToDo list. From Tuesday to Saturday.
Guess what happened? We saw way more on our pitstop in my beloved Porto in 4h on the way there, then we saw in Braga the rest of the week. I´m not kidding. The weather was downright awful, but that was not the only reason. We had to go there for an on arrival training from the volunteering (EVS). I´m not saying the training wasn´t interesting and fun and we haven´t had a good time – but there was one big problem – it was way too tense. We started with breakfast from 8am, first activities at 9.30, coffee break at 11.00, activities, long lunch 12.30 to 15.00 (usually we ended up finishing lunch at 14.30…), activites, coffee break at 16.30, activities, lunch at 19.45, obligatory activities until ~22.00. after that, there were still activities, just not obligatory ones. I´m not kidding, it was like this. Yes, coffee breaks sound like “breaks”. But spend them in a room with 40 people who want to get to know each other and have a lot of experiences to share, and you will realise, it´s just NOT a BREAK. Just a different kind of activity.

So after arriving Tuesday at 18.00, this was the program for Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, we only had activities until lunch and then a free”ish” afternoon. Exactly. That meant that we were divided into random groups and had to fulfill tasks, which basically meant you had to spend your day with them. I don´t call that free at all … And, of course, especially on this day, there was not a second without rain.

And you want to know the best of all this? I had one pair of shoes with me, sneakers who broke on Wednesday morning. And I had no possibility to buy new shoes … When on Wednesday night we went out and walked back in the rain, my shoes got soaked and I walked around the good part of Thursday with extremely wet and cold feet, unless I took them off and later could borrow flip flops from another volunteer. That meant, that the “free” part of Friday was occupied by completing the tasks and desperately searching for shoes. In the meantime, my flatmate, who was also my roommate in Braga, got sick. It´s an absolute miracle I didn´t get sick, although I felt like getting sick for the good part of our stay. We ended up leaving 24h earlier …

The only photos I have, show exactly what we did – ALL of them are made inside. And there are, like, 4 pictures …

volunteer´s art galery

It´s a shame. If possible, I had even wanted to go to Guimarães or Viana do Castelo while I´m so close, but that was simply impossible. I´m just glad we made that Porto pitstop, that basically saved the whole day.

What sticks in mind of Braga? Nothing, only the volunteering stuff… And a constant feeling of hunger now ôO How can Portuguese eat constantly, and still not get fat?!

Looking at my beloved Portugal travel wall now, I feel like a betrayer having Braga on there… Oh well. I think I´ll just have to come back instead of crossing it from my to do list =)

my portugal travel wall =)

all new(?) and chicken survival soup recipe

oh my, i really haven’t posted for a pretty long time … life has simply been to busy – by FAR!

by now, i’m in 2nd year (yay for that!) of my dance education, i split up with my boyfriend, had to try to find someone new to live with etc etc etc. with my new schedule my time is extremely limited. i get up at 6.20am and come home by 10pm … monday to friday. oh yes.

in the meantime, i’ve really been busy with nutrition and cooking. i tried to cook a lot more (on the weekends at least) and tried a few new things. and i’ve also come to the conclusion, that i’ll eat whatever my body tells me to do. all the time. that doesn’t mean i’m eating a whole bar of chocolate if i want some, but one peace. during the time i quit completely on all of this i was unhappy and i did not even lose weight. since i started to listen to my body, i lost some pounds and am feeling SO WELL!

so, the only reason i have time to post something here today, is because i’m ill. again… anyway, wanted to share my “chicken survival soup” recipe with you,passed down from my dad 😉

i know, on the picture, it kinda lacks the “soup” – honestly, i have no idea where all the liquid had gone by that time! i made it, i ate one plate, and when i returned to the pot 2 hours later, it was suddenly missing at least half of the liquid … don’t ask me!

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Chicken Survival Soup

1 boiler
250g soup noodles
soup greens
1 small ginger
beans or peas or whatever veggies you like

1 onion
salt
pepper
3 allspice berries
1 bayleaf

put ginger, onion and half of soup greens into a big pot, divide the boiler at least by 2. fill the pot with water until nearly everything is covered. spice with salt, pepper, allspice berries and the bayleaf. cook for at least 1,5h.
take out chicken and separate meat from bones. strain the soup, put meat back into the soup. take out soup greens and crush them through a sieve over the soup. keep on cooking the soup, insert the 2nd half of soup greens and whatever veggies you want (regard their cooking time!). taste the soup, you might have to spice again (i tend to add too little salt). also add the soup noodles. cook until everything is ready.

enjoy! 🙂

paleo diet?

hey there –

first, i really have to apologize for yesterday’s blog. man, i read through it again in the evening and my english was so fucked up … that’s what happens when you write your blog at work in a hurry (same thing i do now … oh well). so, SO sorry you had to read this – my english is definitely better than that.

on another term, have you heard about the paleo diet? do you practice it? do you know someone doing it? i’ve read frequently about it and i love the approach. but i personally have two problems with it:

1. i don’t like meat. i’m no vegetarian but if it wasn’t for minced meat i could as well be one.

2. as an athlete i’m not sure how this fits together with the diet. as far as i know, high-performance athletes, like full-time dancers, need more carbs than the rest of the world. with paleo, you get your main carbs through meat (there you have point one again).

anyway, i like many aspects and i plan to try to follow them. as in, no convenienced products, lesser grain, lesser dairy products. i already eat nothing but fruits and vegetables during the day because i don’t feel the hunger in training and i can survive the time during stretching and traveling home until dinner. there are a lot diets based on the “no carbs for dinner” concept, but that didn’t work for me at all. i ended up feeling fat in class and hungry in the evening, so i decided that i’d go for no carbs during the day. works perfect!
i’ll try to find something different for breakfast, too. currently i eat muesli every single morning and have done so for – i don’t know, all my life? but there you have it, milk and grain together. i’ll try to go for scrambled eggs instead, but i usually eat breakfast at work which makes this a lot harder …

so, what about you? how do you eat?

love,
Lenny