As you can tell from my last few posts, Germany is a pretty diverse country. It always astounds me how many different cultures live together and how they manage to do so. The highest percentage of immigrants most likely comes from, tada, Turkey. As far as statistics go, there are more than 1.5 million citizens of Turkish descent living in Germany right now. I once heard that Berlin and Cologne are the cities with the highest Turkish population outside of Turkey. And wohaaa, while researching into this matter, I also found that the Turks are actually DECREASING in this country, even though it does not feel that way. Apparently they are making their way back to their home country (where economy and tourism is getting better and better).
I am always quite blown away as soon as I get off the plane in FRA and meet a big bunch of Turkish
guys/ adolescents just standing around. Being in a different country for so long has almost made me forget how many of these actually live in Deutschland. It also makes me want to buy the food I have ever since desperately looked for but never found: Their Döner! Americans might call it Kebab, even though a Kebab is what Germans name the restaurant at which the Turkish specialty is served. Döners are very tasty and made differently than they actually are in Turkey – the land they originally come from. It turns out that Turkish immigrants have invented their own little recipe as to how compose this type of food and have added their own little variety of spices. One thing that can never be amiss: the sauce! A white sauce that contains a ton of garlic but which makes this dish so tasty. The meat itself comes from lambs and is mouthwatering, too, of course. I always go with the vegetarian option, so I am sticking to defining the sauce as the best ingredient. And this sauce is not Zaziki sauce, by the way. That’s for Greek food, not Turkish!
A Döner has been a part of my life ever since I used to get it during lunch breaks in high school and it is one of the first things I try to eat while spending time back home. It is just too hard to find this type of food abroad. And yes, I have tried several spots throughout Brooklyn but have always been severely disappointed (wrong sauce). So a Döner proved to be a good midnight snack during the bachelorette party in Cologne –a good city to try out this Turkish specialty. Another great choice you have is to order a Turkish pizza, also known as Lahmacun. Lahmacun is pita bread that contains onions, tomatoes, and beef on top of the bread, and is traditionally baked in the oven.
Now, another high immigration group are the Russians in Germany. And they are actually higher than the Turks, with a good 6 million people speaking this language in our country. However, it is hard to specifically call them just Russians, as a good amount of them are an in-between-group: They are neither Russian nor German but so-called Russian-Germans. These Russian-Germans are originally Germans who have emigrated to Russia a century back. After the wall came tumbling down, they decided to go back to Germany in order to pursue a better standard of living and education than in the old Soviet Union. And here is where it gets tricky: They are not accepted as German in Germany and they are not accepted as Russian in Russia. They compose their own cultural group, which is a mix between both countries and traditions. Most speak Russian. They learn German but they still pronounce it with a heavy Eastern-European accent. I went to one of those few integration high schools in Germany. Integration in the sense that Russian-Germans are being integrated into the German system. So my school was half German and half, well, Russian-German. My class consisted of 45 hardcore farmer kids from the German country side and 45 Russian folks who stayed at a boarding home and travelled to their families every other weekend (usually they were one to two hours away by car).
A friend once told me that our Russians are more integrated than the Russians in, say, Brighton Beach (read more here) but that they have been able to preserve their culture a lot better than Russians in the US. That’s a great compliment for our Easter-Europeans and I hope they know it!
And another group of cultures worth mentioning are the Italians. Following Argentina, the second highest number of Italians live in Germany (aside from Italy themselves). They compose the oldest group of immigrants living in this country. All I know of Italians living in Deutschland is the good amount of pizza restaurants they opened up. Their gourmet pizza and pasta specialties make out for some delicious teenage memories. I also started working for an Italian guy as an adolescent in a, you guessed it, pizza place. He was not very nice and I left the location after a weekend. So much to good memories.
Every time I hear a different language spoken in Germany, I am reminded at how diverse this country is. I am also reminded at how much less difficulty a German has when accepting a different culture and its traditions than the standard American does (as far as I have been able to tell). It is truly the country where black and white can walk the streets together without being stared at, cursed at, or where it is seen as something unusual to be of different nationalities. So yes, sometimes it does want to make me vomit when I see at how blindly racist people are in the country that is supposed to embrace the high diversity it has (America) and how they hate each other for what one another does not have. Be it education, skin color, or opportunity – its’ time to get it straight, USA!