Readers, we need your feedback!
Readers, do you know of any other countries in Central or Eastern Europe where The Loaf can feel the love? If so, let us know! Also, which Loaf ingredients in the Bulgarian and German Loaves would you be most likely to try when cooking at home?
Central & Eastern Europe
I trust that the chefs, wardrobe designers, and accent/culture coaches I sent you last week have been hard at work figuring out your Western Europe image and that you’ve been studying the list of countries I sent you. This week, we move to Central and Eastern Europe and evaluate how you’ll rebrand and turn yourself into a star there. You’ll need to keep away from a few of these countries for a couple of reasons, but I’ve found one where you can thrive and one that has a Loaf who can serve as an example for you. Allow me to explain.
Greece & Romania: The No Loaf
Stay away from these countries. The concept of taking a bunch of ground meat, smashing it into a large shape, and eating it is unheard of. If you, a large rectangle of meat, are seen in one of these countries, you could be mistaken for a brick, a large early 1990s cell phone, or who knows what else? The result won’t be pretty.
Germany: “Liver Cheese,” “Flesh Cake,” & Lots of Rules!
Rules to Follow
Germany has more Loaves than you can count. If you hate following American food rules, the Germans will love you for it and you will thrive in Germany. Now, don’t get me wrong; Germans are sticklers for rules, just not the same ones that matter to Americans. To gain fans in Germany, you must follow German rules. Believe me, the public will notice if you don’t.
Let me explain. Germans can be a poker-faced bunch. They’re known for being unflappable…unless you break a rule. For instance, try this fun little trick and get ready to see a show: Walk across a street before “The Green Man” appears on the crosswalk sign (even when there are no cars in sight). Germans will FREAK…THE HECK…OUT. It’s as if The Green Man is the Burgermeister of all pedestrians. For that matter, so is any publicly displayed sign instructing people to act a certain way. Failing to obey signs is the ultimate insult, so study up on the rules and follow them. No matter how much Germans love you, breaking a rule will land you in the doghouse.
Rules to Break
If the rules above scare you, don’t worry. You’ll be able to break plenty of the ones you’re used to following in the US. Germany has many different Loaves who break two of the fundamental rules of food. Rule 1: A dish must look appetizing to gain a fan-base. Rule 2: A dish must have an appetizing name to have a positive reputation. The German Loaves aren’t pretty and have strange names, but still have a place at every breakfast, lunch, and dinner table.
These Loaves are unattractive, but that doesn’t stop the Germans from sinking their teeth into them and enjoying their flavor. Next, let’s get to the names. Hackbraten is normal; it basically means “chopped meat.” Leberkäse, however, means “liver cheese”. Don’t ask me why. Many versions of this Loaf don’t contain liver or cheese. Then, there is Fleischkuchen. This means…wait for it…“flesh cake.” To be fair, “fleisch” means animal meat and human flesh, but this name would still never fly in the US. Americans nearly have heart attacks about the fact that “loaf” is a part of your name. In Germany, you can assume any frightening new alias you want…like “intestine pastry” or “gut brick”…or something else that sounds disgusting. It may make you even more popular!
Ingredients, Garnishes, Condiments, & Sides
Here are a few key ingredients for each type of Loaf. Leberkäse/Fleischkäse contain the following: corned beef, pork, onion, pepper, marjoram, nutmeg, bacon, and salt. Some versions contain a very small amount of liver, but many don’t. This can be eaten with potatoes (a German favorite) and other veggies. It can also be put on a piece of hearty German bread along with cheese, tomatoes, pickles, sauerkraut, mustard, or other common German garnishes. Hackbraten contains the following: corned beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, rosemary, bacon, butter, onions, pepper, carrot, beef broth, and sour cream. This can eaten in the same ways and with the same garnishes as Leberkäse/Fleischkäse.
When you’re in Germany, learn to accept Mustard, Sauerkraut, and Cheese into your entourage. These long-time superstars are the good ol’ boys’ network of all things edible in Germany. They’re important because Germans generally don’t know something is edible unless it includes one of these three. In terms of personalities, Mustard can be moody (sometimes sweet, or sour, or strong, or bitter, or spicy). Cheese can be smooth, harsh, in-between, or can even smell like feet. Sauerkraut is just always sour. These little sides are like Chihuahuas that think they’re Great Danes. They think they’re more important than the main foods they’re accompanying on the plate. They may be smaller than you are and have difficult personalities, but they’re well established, well connected, and can make or break your career. Kiss up to them and make them love you. Also, note that German Cheese and Mustard aren’t the same junk you get on a hotdog or a burger at a little league concession stand. They’re gourmet works of art, so don’t disrespect them or they’ll go Green Man on your sorry behind.
Embrace German Values: Practicality, Quality, Order, & Efficiency
Your ingredients must be fresh and top quality. You must taste superb. Why? The answer lies in German values: practicality, quality, order, and efficiency. If a food serves its purpose, does so efficiently, and is top quality, Germans will ignore all else. For example, the German chocolate, Ritter Sport contains a slogan on its package that says “Square. Practical. Good.” This description on a candy package would make any American run for the hills, but the idea of a “practical” candy would make a German smile and jump for joy. OK, that’s too extreme; it would make a German’s mouth twitch slightly upward for a second, but that’s big stuff! The idea of the chocolate being a perfect “square” that breaks up into more perfect little squares is so wonderful, orderly, and purely German that it would make many Germans instant addicts! Make sure your cook makes you to fit German values. You’ll earn extra points if you’re perfectly symmetrical.
Cooking short cuts are offensive…so offensive that there may be signs displayed somewhere commanding cooks not to use them. Germans are connoisseurs of all things meat-based, so be amazing. They’re also are non-confrontational, so if you’re mediocre, you won’t know until it’s too late to make a run for it. Germans diners will be poker faced and will take bites of you, but when nobody’s looking, they’ll spit you into their napkins and feed you to the dog. What a terrible way to end your life!
Don’t be Vegetarian
Lastly, don’t you dare try to find someone to make a vegetarian or, even worse, a vegan version of you. Germans distrust any food that doesn’t contain meat or doesn’t have the courtesy to at least appear next to meat on a plate. If you describe yourself as “vegetarian” in Germany, you will hear one of two responses: (1) “I’m so sorry. Is that a treatable illness?” (2) “AAAAHHHHH!” Then you’ll see people run, hide in their homes, and call the police to take you away. Make sure you contain meat.
The One-Name Celebrity Loaf: Bulgaria – Stefani
Stay away from Bulgaria. Bulgarians know Meatloaf well, but in Bulgaria, there’s only one Loaf. Don’t waste your time trying to replace her. Bulgarian Loaf is so iconic and famous that it has a name, Stefani. What’s her last name? I have no idea. Stefani, like Madonna, is so famous that she only needs one name! Do you want to be her? Good!
Now, chin up, kid; I’m not telling you about Stefani to make you feel jealous or worthless. I’m suggesting that you use her as an example. Become Stefani…but the American version.
What makes Stefani so beloved? First thing: Despite her fame and wealth, she still has a heart. Yes, a heart! It consists of a soft, tender, gooey filling of boiled eggs, carrots, and pickles. To prove to the public that she has a heart, she’s become the ultimate politician in addition to being a superstar. Stefani allows the Paparazzi to photograph her kissing babies, pretending to do manual labor, and making concerned faces while holding hands with crying children. She may be attractive, but people don’t treat her like a piece of meat because they know she’s more than a pretty face on a meaty body. She has a heart.
Stefani is also quite the fashion icon. She’s known for her shiny coat, which is a result of her being covered in egg yolks and cheese. When she’s fully cooked, the yolk and cheese turns into a shiny outer shell. You may be tempted to try your luck in Bulgaria, but don’t be stupid. There’s only one Stefani and you’ll never be her, so move on. Learn from her and become another version of Stefani…a better version!
Alright, kid, keep studying and prepping. I’ll be sending you a culture coach and a German rulebook, along with videos of Stefani kissing babies and holding hands. Learn, learn, learn! I’ll be in touch shortly.
Chiara I. Tedone
President and CEO
Independent Food Rebranding Agency
About the Authors
Chiara is Digital Content Creator and Blog Manager for AMA Tampa Bay. She is Co-founder and Director of Winning the Fight, a non-profit organization specializing in neurodegenerative disease research. She also is earning her MBA with a specialty in marketing from the University of South Florida. Prior to switching careers to be near family and becoming a marketing professional, Chiara worked in national defense in Washington, DC. She served the United States Department of Defense with a focus on global terrorism issues. Prior to working in defense, she earned her BA in International Studies from American University’s School of International Services in 2007. Chiara’s hobbies include obstacle racing, running, swimming, kayaking, SCUBA diving, and opera/classical singing. She also loves country music and chocolate!
You can contact Chiara at Chiara@winningthefight.org
In 2006 Fany landed in Florida straight from Bulgaria and brought with her two Bachelor’s degrees – Broadcast Journalism and Film Production. With such diverse, yet related academic background, she decided the right thing to do was to get a Master’s degree in “something similar”. So, she graduated from the University of South Florida with her Master’s in Strategic Communications. Currently, Fany is a Production Assistant at AVI-SPL Creative Show Services and is constantly on a quest for learning and gaining professional knowledge to establish herself in the field of Communications.