Chapter 6 – Food, Drinks, and Smoking

  • Drinking water from the tap is perfectly safe. Tap water is strictly controlled in Germany and so there is no risk. There are only a few exceptions, for example in public places or on trains, when a tap has a notice saying: “Kein Trinkwasser” (No drinking water).

  • In Germany there are a variety of meals which include pork, beef or chicken. You can always ask which meat is included in a meal if you do not want to eat a particular type of meat. Traditionally Germans eat a lot of pork.

  • You might find a lot of places which sell “Döner”, which is simply kebab meat in a bread roll. The meat is either chicken, veal or lamb. Döners, like other fast food (pizzas, burgers, fries, etc.) are usually eaten with your fingers, without cutlery (knives & forks). However, cutlery is usually used when eating at a table.

  • A lot of German sweets contain gelatine, which is made from pork. So if you want to make sure that a sweet is halal, buy the ones that have “vegetarian” on the label or check the list of ingredients for “Gelatine”.

  • Germany has a variety of cheap supermarkets known as “discounters” (for example, ALDI, LIDL, and Penny), as well as more expensive supermarkets (for example REWE and EDEKA). You’ll find everything you need for everyday life at a supermarket. There are also farmers’ markets, and smaller supermarkets, including Turkish, African, Asian or Greek supermarkets. If you only eat halal meat and sweets you will most likely find these at the Turkish or Arabic supermarkets (or restaurants). Unlike supermarkets, some petrol stations are open 24h a day and often sell groceries, too, but they are very expensive in comparison.

  • Drinking alcohol, mostly beer and wine, is common at social events in the evening, such as during dinner or meeting friends. However, it is perfectly OK not to drink alcohol and many Germans do not drink any alcohol at all either. If you are offered an alcoholic drink, you can always say “nein, danke” if you don’t want it. It is illegal to drive when you have been drinking alcohol.

  • Smoking is common in many public places, and both men and women smoke. In restaurants and at train stations there are special “smoking areas”. It is generally considered more polite to go outside or on the balcony when you smoke. Smoking next to nonsmokers, children or pregnant women is considered to be rude.