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What to cook for our German exchange student?[Moved from Home Cooking Board]

My stepson is hosting a German boy for a few weeks as part of an exchange program. I want the exchange student to have the opportunity to try different kinds of American foods. Because we live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I also want to show him California cuisine. I realize he may not like everything that's offered, but I want to at least give him the chance to try some new things.

So far I know he's had hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza. I know he dislikes blue cheese, and avocados. Oh, and seafood, which eliminates several possiblities.

So far, I've come up with the following, which includes things my family likes to make and eat:

1.) Pizza cooked on the BBQ
2.) Soul food/Southern food like grits, beans or greens cooked with pork fat, cornbread, biscuits, pulled pork and jambalaya
3.) Fondue, which is something my family loves and we do several different kinds at once
4.) Mexican food (we'll probably hit the neighborhood taco trucks for this)
5.) Lots of fresh local produce
6.) Brownies
7.) Chili

Any other suggestions about what to prepare for this German boy to show off American cooking?

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  1. Can't answer with specifics but judging by our experience in Germany and Austria with the food in restaurants, go easy on the spice. We found German restaurant food to be very bland compared to our taste and tolerance for spices.Maybe its differeent in home cooking but we were really ready for a good Indian dinner when we reached England!

    1 Reply
    1. re: LJS

      He, he. Its always funny to watch the German tourists in Mexico City turning bright red after their first street taco! Particularly the ones from bavaria that are accustomed to "Spicy" turkish specialties.

    2. Add BBQ to the list, and preferably at a place with a lot of Americana splendor.

      1. Unless it's just too darn hot, you could prepare a top-notch Thanksgiving meal. Perhaps not the very best we have to offer but obviously could be of interest to your guest.

        You could serve and/or go out for ice creams, too, as they seem to be so different in different parts of the world. And all good!


        Fry bread

        Fried chicken

        Not sure how American this is or isn't but chicken salad has been popular with visitors.

        One thing I learned while hosting exchange students is that it's nice to be sure there's enough salad, bread, fruit, and cheese around so that even if they aren't crazy about the meal they won't starve.

        Have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: xena

          I actually really like the Thanksgiving Dinner idea...it is sort of uniquely American. I remember once my parents cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for some friends visiting from Australia...and they really liked it, although they thought pumpkin pie was very strange because "you can't make pie from a vegetable..." (althought technically isn't a pumpkin a fruit?) And in the SF area, its definitely NOT too hot this time of year to cook that kind of meal....unless they live in the far east bay suburbs possibly. SF in late May/June is generally cool and foggy. Today's predicted high: 62 degrees F.

        2. I'd add some macaroni and cheese to your menu. Maybe on soul food night. Our exchange student from Germany loved mac and cheese. Also any sort of chicken cutlet or grilled chicken breast. But her very favorite thing was restaurant hamburgers. My God that girl could put away some hamburgers. I'm talking a Red Robin monster burger and a Cheesecake Factory double burger. She said they didn't give you enough meat on burgers in Germany. One thing she absolutely didn't like was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The school gave them box lunches for a field trip that included pb&j sandwiches. When she told me about it that night you would have thought she had eaten a cockroach with the face she made. She didn't like the soft white bread and she didn't like the combination of peanut butter with jelly.

          12 Replies
          1. re: AmyH

            Without fail every exchange student we've had has hated peanut butter! I was surprised at first. Every one, and I think we've had 6 different kids over the years.
            Also, most of them disliked root beer. Black Cows were *not* a treat!

            1. re: xena

              Yes! I gave her some root beer to try and she almost gagged.

              And I do think we're the only country that eats peanut butter in combination with sweet things. In South America they eat peanut butter, but on crackers as an appetizer. I got some funny looks buying it with a jar of jelly and a loaf of bread.

              1. re: AmyH

                I am from Germany and normally it everything which doesn't move but root beer is the worst stuff I ever tasted in my life. I have yet to find a German who likes root beer.

                1. re: honkman

                  The French don't like root beer either. A long ago French co-worker drank some and almost choked. Mmmm...I'm having a root beer popsicle right now.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Rootbeer tastes of Germolene (English antiseptic cream)...I will never get over that and so gladly remain Rootbeer free in my life.

                    1. re: rob133

                      Just wondering, how do you know what antiseptic cream tastes like?

                      Obviously root beer is a very American thing but to many it's the taste of childhood. If you want something that even some root beer drinkers find weird - get some old fashion Dr.Pepper...bottled in Texas.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        We taste salty, sweet, bitter and sour with our tongue. We taste umami with our mouths. Everything else we taste with our noses. (Excuse me while I wipe off the whipped cream off the tip of mine.) ;-)

                        1. re: ML8000

                          I got too answers....the first is I guess ? I'm talking about the smell of Germolene is the same as the taste of Rootbeer, the second is I am sure as a kid I managed to eat some Germolene more than once!!!!

                          1. re: rob133

                            I know what you mean about the smell and the taste, I've had imported beers in the states that taste "skunky", I've never tasted a skunk, but I have smelled them and the taste of stale imported beer tastes like this smell.

                            But, back to what to serve the German kid, if your corn is in season serve him some corn on the cob. Very American, most Europeans I've met look at corn as cattle feed.

              2. re: AmyH

                I wonder if pb and sweet combination is unique to the US. When I was in England, my friends couldn't believe that I'd have pb and honey sandwiches.

                1. re: chowser

                  I think just as vegemite and marmite are acquired tastes, so is peanut butter. I'm not sure how you couldn't like peanut butter, but it seems to be so.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Love pb & honey. For our kids it seemed to be both the peanut taste and the texture they disliked. But we sure ate lots of Nutella while they were here...re texture maybe Nutella melts in your mouth a bit easier, not quite so sticky?

                2. What about breakfast foods like biscuits and gravy, corned beef hash, variety of omelettes/skillets.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: chowser

                    Our German exchange student told us that they don't eat meats with breakfast. Unfortunately, she told me this after she had ordered a huge breakfast at Denny's (on our weekend at Niagara Falls) and left all the meat on the plate. My daughter's a vegetarian and I don't eat pork products, so we couldn't even eat it for her.

                    1. re: AmyH

                      funny that she doesn't. i had salami, cheese, and brown bread, along with yoghurt and fruit the whole summer I stayed with a german family.

                      1. re: AmyH

                        Maybe her family doesn't, but I spent a summer with a German family in high school and breakfast sometimes did entail meat. Other times, good rolls, jam and butter. Thing is, when they asked me what I liked, I said "cereal" since I was 17 and that was my experience. So the mom made a huge production about "wir muessen so viel Geld ausgeben fuer seine CORN FLAKES" and what a burden I was because I was so "picky." I ended up much preferring the stuff they normally had, it was good. But to this day I resent how when I said "we eat pizza at home" or whatever, they saw it as the selfish American DEMANDING pizza (which absolutely rocked in Germany btw, I am still overjoyed when I find a place that puts tuna on pizza). But this host Mutter was a real bitch sometimes.

                        Anyway, OP, your efforts are heroic and I'm sure you're a great host, but do keep in mind that this kid is going to want to go out a lot and sample local treats, including fast food. Let him get that slice of life too.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          Just curious, which part of Germany did you stay ?

                          1. re: honkman

                            Krefeld, N-W and a week in "West Berlin" (this was 1981)

                          2. re: John Manzo

                            Also you can't force a kid to be interested in trying so much variety if they aren't into it... kid might be feeling homesick or just not be that into food, and being faced with unfamiliar, inconsistent stuff every day might not work. I know I would have loved it as a teen, but most of my friends when travelling would fixate on something familiar and have that every day. You'll figure it out.

                          3. re: AmyH

                            Every German breakfast buffet I've ever seen (lots) has been loaded with different kinds of sliced processed meat products. They do NOT, however, eat hot, cooked meats (i.e. bacon, sausage, ham) for breakfast. Sliced mild cheeses and boiled eggs are also standard.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Aha! That explains it. The Denny's breakfast our German student ordered was loaded with bacon and sausage. May have been ham on there, too. She wouldn't touch any of it. And this was a girl who had no problem with meat at any other time of the day.

                          4. re: chowser

                            It's been years since I was in Germany, but what I remember is that the amount of food for breakfast increases steadily as you go north. In Bavaria, it's bread and butter and jam, and maybe a bit of cheese once in a while, and by the time you get to Cologne, there are eggs and lots more. (This was the standard breakfast that came with a hotel stay.)

                            1. re: Anne H

                              Weisswurst being the exception to the rule in bavaria of course. (Had some this morning :-)

                              Oh, and it sort of hurts me to say this, but my (german) husband was a little too excited about the concept of drive through krispy kreme.

                          5. Let him eat what you eat, and let that be his discovery of "California Cuisine." Since your'e a chowhound, it'll be full of good things. As with any guest, there will be hits and misses.

                            Take him to the grocery store/farmer's markets with you. Get him out into the country to see how/where the food is produced, at both small- and large-scaled operations.

                            Maybe, don't take his likes and dislikes too seriously. Has he ever had a fully ripened Haas avocado? A taco made with fresh wild fish? Prepare some of his 'dislikes' and see if he changes his mind. Let him decide.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: toodie jane

                              I'd made avocados available to him too. I was once served "guacamole" in Germany, one of the worst things ever put in front of me.

                              Where is he from in Germany and urban or rural? I've entertained German winemakers and they were extremely adventurous in their food likes here.

                              1. re: xena

                                That's what I was thinking!

                                Also chcolate chip cookies

                                1. re: xena

                                  I lived in Germany for several years and, unless things have changed, they, and also the English, do not like corn on the cob. It is for pigs, I have been told. Oh well - more for me :)

                                  1. re: torta basilica

                                    Yes, one of our French kids told us she was surprised to see us serve it as they thought of it as feed. She liked it, though I can see why that might be a turn off to them! We took her to a corn boil in a neighboring town and you know how that is, roasted, buttery beyond belief...wonderful. She went back for more. We also shared a funnel cake there and she loved it! Made me laugh because here she was thoroughly enjoying it when she has such wonderful desserts at home. This particular girl was a total joy; loved to try everything, go everywhere.

                                2. Don't forget apple pie.
                                  Also, a German friend of my parents loves coming here because he can order cocktails at the bar. He says they just don't have them in Germany..it's either beer, wine, or straight liquor. I don't know how old the kid is, but maybe a Margarita.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: ajs228

                                    You get cocktails everywhere in Germany (even before you are 21)

                                    1. re: honkman

                                      Don't think there is anywhere else- outside strict Muslim countries that outlaw booze or restrict it to hotels for foreigners - with a drinking age as high as 21. That is nuttiness imposed by MADD. Didn't exist when I was young and visited New York State.

                                      1. re: lagatta

                                        It wasn't a restriction. I just got the impression that most bars in Germany/Europe don't really do cocktails, or at least don't do them very well. I could have misunderstood him, though.

                                        1. re: ajs228

                                          They are very big on cocktails in Germany, and do them quite well. Your guy is probably going to the wrong places, or else lives in a very tiny village somewhere.

                                  2. Your best/Favorite family recipies. The ones you serve when company comes over.

                                    Specific possibilities I didn't notice being mentioned

                                    Steak & Baked Potato
                                    Pot Roast
                                    Spagetti (Im sure the way you make it is Americanized)
                                    Sloppy Joes (the tomato kind)
                                    Main Dish Green Salads
                                    Chinese (home made, restaurant, take out)
                                    Your favorite family casserole
                                    Backyard BBQ
                                    Stuffed/Smotherd Pork Chops
                                    Corn Bread
                                    Corn on the Cob

                                    Is there anyplace nearby that has a good Sunday brunch buffet?

                                    1. Oh, forgot about good domestic cheeses. Then if you really want to American it up you could make grilled cheese and tomato with some of it, basic or dolled up version, whatever you like.

                                      1. My wife is Bavarian and the most insulting thing is to try to cater to a specific thing that you think they haven't had. Basically do what you normally do for dinner. My wife is a big lover of everything on the grill because she was from Munich and in the city there wasn't much room to grill. Taco's another great idea. I am from New England so all the lobster and chowda here is great too. Don't make to much of a big deal about it because most thing we do aren't typical german so everything will be new. Do remember though that no matter what the bread or produce you buy, it will always be fresher in Germany, the reason being is that the refrigerators that they have are meant for 1 to 2 day supply of food. Another tradition they have is time for coffee and a light snack, usually cake or cookies and some time with family, something that is lost in the states. Be yourself and let him see what is truly american instead of a fascade.

                                        1. We've hosted several exchange students over the years. Generalizing wildly here I would say the German kids have been some of the more open about trying different foods out.

                                          Things that kids seem to like no matter where they're from:

                                          homemade creamed corn(most love corn on the cob as well but we have found that more often than not german kids prefer not to eat with their hands)
                                          any and all american junk food(really)
                                          red sauce restaurant style italian
                                          Cold Stone Creamery(yes, I know...but really these kids LOVE this place for whatever reason)

                                          SOmeone above mentioned Thanksgiving...do try and prepare a traditional thanskgiving feast. Every kid we've ever had has LOVED LOVED LOVED learning about thanksgiving, helping with the big meal, and indulging. THis is something uniquely American(well Canadian too!) and they really find it interesting and love the food. Christmas is a big hit too - learning about how traditions differ.

                                          If he's going ot be here over 4th of July show him what a traditional 4th of July holiday is like with all the good BBQ/Picnic fixings that go with it.

                                          Whatever family recipes you may have. My family is greek and all the kids have loved trying different greek family recipes we've made over the years. Even if they didn't like it(our Norwegian "daughter" to this day won't look at feta even after a year of seeing it daily on the table and two month long return visits! LOL) they loved learning about it and trying it.

                                          Don't stray to far from your normal routines...they like to learn what life is like here...and your dinner ritual is part of that. Make them part of it and don't treat them like a guest.

                                          Don't be distressed or upset by anything he won't eat or won't try. Be sure especially at the first few days to not having anything too exotic and be sure there are always "safe" options while they get over jet lag. Jet lag and culture shock does a number on these kids and often their digestive tracks go completely out of whack with all the new food on top of the stress. Keep lots of basic staples around: bread, fruit, salad makings, cheese(not american!), cold cuts, and maybe a bottle of nutella for soemthing sweet(though sweets usually aren't a challenge for the kids! most love any dessert you get them to try) and don't be offended if he just wants a sandwich after trying something you've presented especially since he's here short-term and not long term.

                                          Have fun!

                                          1. Since you're in the Bay Area, you may want to take him to some really fabulous Chinese food.

                                            I don't think of fondue as American, but I guess variations beyond cheese and oil might be.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Megiac

                                              Went through this when we hosted a Swedish couple a couple years ago. Were grateful for many suggestions. Will strongly second the full-range (though not necessarily full-size) Thanksgiving dinner, together with some of the history.

                                              Clam chowder (no tomatoes, please); and biscuits with sausage gravy; country ham, grits, and redeye gravy. The Germans are not exactly strangers to sausage and ham, but maybe not in these ways.

                                              Take him to a farmers' market. We especially like the year-round Sunday FM in Walnut Creek.

                                            2. Thanks everyone for your wonderful suggestions. I'm feeling really inspired now! The student has actually been here for close to 2 weeks, but he's been at my stepson's mother's home. This weekend he comes to our home for the remainder of his trip. Fridays are my day to menu plan and grocery shop for the week ahead, so I'm trying to prepare, especially with this long weekend on the horizon.
                                              Interestingly, we've heard from families that have hosted German kids before in our community that they go nuts for Pixie Stix. We're going to give him some and see...

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Ruby Louise

                                                Ya'll are just going plain crazy here and I love it! I just showed this to our exchange student and he is getting a huge kick out of it. He's from Southern Germany, near Stuttgart. He cooks at home so we've had fun chatting about that, and he wants to cook for us before he goes. Basically he's a carb freak, loving pasta and sweets, especially chocolate.

                                                So far he doesn't like rootbeer. Pixie sticks, roasted marshmallows, s'mores, brownies (basically all the sweets) have been welcome new discoveries. In Germany he and his sister got hold of a brownie recipe and tried to make them but they didn't turn out. Homemade mac-n-cheese and bbq ribs have also been interesting to him. He was amused by grilled pizza, but liked the taste. He's over American hamburgers. In fact, we are joking about how everyone is eager to bbq for him. He has had fondue before, but he was pretty entertained by my pizza flavored fondue, and by the fact that fondue night is kind of a family ritual for us. I don't think he was all that excited about the beef enchiladas, refried beans and spanish rice at my in-laws tonight.

                                                He said to tell you all that the donuts from Buttercream Bakery here in Napa are great American donuts. And he got really excited at all the baked goods in our local Raley's. Having lots of salad and fruit at meals has helped him when the food has been a little too weird for him. He's also liked lemonade, which he says they don't drink much at home.

                                                We've still got a week to go, so I'll keep you posted. Tomorrow we head to the taco trucks...

                                              2. I love all of these great suggestions. Coming from the other direction, I was an exchange student in Germany for a year, and let me tell you, I expanded my palate. The host parents were warned that offal would not go down to well with Americans, so I wasn't often offered saumagen or blutwurst, but I felt terrible whenever I turned down any food. I felt like I had to keep my chin up and be as open as possible. To compensate there were two foods I flat out resisted for which I was ridiculed gently but consistently: red cabbage and sauerkraut.

                                                Good call, btw about the peanut butter!

                                                1. Fresh Orange Juice! All our European visitor kids loved it and drank as much as we could provide. For one duo, we gave them their own gallon containers - with their names printed on the label - and they were more thrilled than if they'd been given money. They photographed them in the (gigantic) refrigerator and sent the pictures home as proof.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: Sherri

                                                    Yep, our Swedish visitors (mentioned above) were VERY big for fresh orange juice. It's apparently pretty expensive in Europe.

                                                    I forgot... how about stuffed hot dogs? The German kid won't be astonished by a sausage, but how about split, stuffed with cheddar and mustard, topped with mashed potato, and baked until hot through and the potato is lightly browned? I grew up on these in Missouri and Maryland, so they're a pretty widespread American staple.

                                                    Well, OK, my mother went with me from MO to MD, and kept cooking the same things.

                                                    1. re: MikeLM

                                                      Our German student loved grapefruit juice, too. I bought lots of ruby red those weeks!

                                                    2. re: Sherri

                                                      Prime California fruit and produce would probably be an eye opener.

                                                      1. re: ML8000

                                                        They have really good fruit in Germany, but it is still a good idea to have some on hand. Most younger Germans really like to eat healthy stuff and love fresh fruit and veg. It's true about the orange juice -- fresh is super expensive in germany and the other brands are mostly from concentrate. Mexican food in germany is pathetic but I am not sure Germans are aware of this fact. I have yet to meet the German who does not love all things BBQd or grilled so you can't go wrong there. Oh, and they all seem to love corn. On and in just about everything (it is then referred to as "American style", heh). Corn chowder always goes over really well. Italy is about a 4 hours drive from southern germany so that stuff won't be unfamiliar. Oh, and steaks in the US are much better what you get over there for the price.

                                                        1. re: Behemoth

                                                          Oh yeah, one of my friends took a Weber kettle grill as a gift for a German friend in the Rheinhessen who loved American grilled foods. He was the envy of his town.

                                                          1. re: Behemoth

                                                            Sorry, to say that most Germans don't think that steaks in the US are better than in Germany because you get reasonable priced Argentinian steaks (grass-fed) all over Germany which simply taste better than the majority of the corn-fed stuff you get here.

                                                        2. re: Sherri

                                                          You are aware that a lot of German families drink fresh orange juice in the morning. Most Germans are not thrilled by the fresh orange juice but that you buy it in gallon containers.

                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                            Didn't buy the OJ. We have many orange trees. The kids squeezed it themselves. They were thrilled.

                                                        3. I definitely agree with the full-blown traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
                                                          Apple pie of course, too. Scrambled eggs seem to be foreign to Europe, so those might be interesting. How about some Italian food that is so pervasive here that it can be considered American -- lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs?
                                                          A traditional roast beef dinner? Meatloaf? A really good top-of-the line steak cooked on the grill? Hot fudge sundae?

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: pemma

                                                            BLTs. Pecan pie. Sticky buns. Malted milk shakes. Chicken and waffles. Pot pies. Barbecued chicken. Ribs. Green bean casserole. Tuna casserole (with chicken maybe? or left over turkey if he balks at tuna). Stuffed pork chops. Pad thai. Sweet potato fries or baked with cinnamon.

                                                            1. re: pemma

                                                              Beside Turkey, former Yugoslavia and Greece, Italians are one of the biggest immigration group in Germany for the last 30 years and there more or less Italian restaurants at every second corner and the food you get there is similar to what you get here in the US.

                                                              1. re: nosey

                                                                French toast with maple syrup
                                                                Blueberry pancakes
                                                                Chille Fries
                                                                Corn Dogs
                                                                Frozen Choc covered bananas

                                                              2. While not California cuisine but American: Philly cheese steak, key lime pie, arroz con pollo, BBQ ribs, chili and local produce.

                                                                1. If he hasn't been to a U.S. grocery store, take him. There are now some larger (American-style) grocery stores in Germany, but for each one of those there are a larger number of smaller grocery stores, specialty shops (butcher, bakery, fish) and weekly farmers markets.

                                                                  The meat is better here in Germany. Even the McDonalds is better here (I'll actually eat at one here!).

                                                                  American style baked goods might be interesting to him; toll house cookies and brownies.

                                                                  The person who posted that Mexican food in Germany leaves much to be desired is right on... but I think this is the style of Mexican food that Germans enjoy, so beware of forcing real Mexican or even Tex-Mex food on him.

                                                                  As for beverages... German soda is different from American soda, even Coke tastes different in the two countries (I love German Fanta because it is light and crisp, but American Fanta is too sweet for me) so make sure he gets to try some American soda if he hasn't already. I prefer American pineapple juice to the ones I find in German grocery stores, so maybe you can offer some pineapple juice. You also don't see lemonade around here.

                                                                  Even things that I think are better in Germany, the American version is interesting to the kids... I hand out American candy on Halloween and the kids can't get enough of it, even though I MUCH prefer German candy!

                                                                  I agree with the poster who said not to make a big deal about making "special" things for the kid - I think it will put a lot of pressure on him. Make things your family enjoys, then you'll still be happy even if he doesn't seem enthusiastic about it! Make him part of the process and you'll learn as much about German food and eating habits as you hope to teach him about American.

                                                                  1. Lots of red meat, roasts, chops, etc, which are still expensive treats in Europe, especially beef. Lose the grits. Fondue is Swiss, and they do it better over there. Try good sourdough bread, goat cheese, local cured meats, the things they think are best done in Europe (oh -- add good local chocolate) we can compete at just about everything, these days. Expecting a European to like grits is a bit of a stretch, I think. American-style pies might be fun, lemon meringue, cherry, there's nothing similar in Europe. They might not like them, but they would be a different experience, as would a truly superb devil's food cake. Have fun, and be sure to provide a brand of bottled water that's available in Germany .

                                                                    1. We had a series of au pairs and a steady steam of foreign visitors for years. The point of exchange programs isn't to be a tour guide and show them things. They'll see for themselves. These programs provides them a chance to see an American family living its normal life. So do it.
                                                                      If you don't normally eat Soul food, forget it! But the taco truck will be something that will be fun. We didn't make any distinction between the kids from Germany and Afganistan except for serving pork. The kids from Bhutan loved the food court at the shopping mall just as much as the Brits as long as the adults didn't go. When my kids hauled out the trash, the French kid helped and then they listened to music and ate junk food. My kids took visitors with them to visit friends and just hung out. They ate what kids eat.
                                                                      We planned excursions to things that were different and very American. They don't have political rallies in most countries. Odd but true. T-ball games. County fairs. A Wal-Mart or Target is amazing if you have never seen anything like that and a good cheap place to shop for things to take home. You may be able to introduce him to a local official at City Hall - always impressive. A cheesy tourist site or two. Most of those places have food. So what if it's junky? These are things that ordinary Americans do - that's why they're crowded.
                                                                      Professionally, I arranged exchanges for adult foreign visitors, some fairly high ranking, and we applied these same guidelines. They always worked. We added Indian pow-wows, the Mall of the Americas, Texas State Fair, Mount Rushmore and Governors' mansions. A little higher flying but the same principle. We always just ate what we found where we found it. A great time was always had by all.

                                                                      Just do what you do. Be yourself. He'll have a great time. Everything will be new to him. Even if he's had a hamburger before, he's never had an American hamburger with American kids in San Francisco.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                        Finally a sensible answer. Thanks. I can't understand so much angst over what to feed a student or ones own kids for that matter.

                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                          Excellent ideas and definitely sensible. The exchange students definitely are looking for our "everyday ordinary". How about a bus or other transit ride around town? Do you have a local ferry? That was something that I found completely different while an exchange student. Just getting around in general...

                                                                        2. 1. Fresh oranges and orange juice: have them squeeze it for themselves.
                                                                          2. Chinese food: it's pretty expensive in Germany but really cheap in the SF Bay Area.
                                                                          3. Mexican food (but not too spicy): Germans usually don't eat spicy foods.
                                                                          4. Southern-style BBQ: make sure it has a heavy Americana motif
                                                                          5. Pizza (American style): they don't normally eat American-style pizza.

                                                                          1. I was born in northern Gernany in Hamburg. And I don't understand the many comments about Germans not liking spicy food. My mother used to cook some Goulash that was pretty hot and spicy and we loved it. Hungarian hot paprika was always in the spice cabinet as I recal. Lots of herbs and sauces were used with most meals. I sure hated the fruit soups however.

                                                                            1. You guys are bringing back awesome memories for me! :) I once helped host a large group of German exchange students, and then I was able to go be an exchange student in Leipzig (one of 3 from my hs compared to almost 20 from the German school). We had great times and some very sad. From the first time I saw the topic I thought "corn on the cob". My exchange student said she hated corn on the cob - until she tried it the "american way". They were not used to corn on the cob with butter and seasonings. Spaghetti was a hit, but she ate that at home.
                                                                              How about seafood? I had the opportunity to try eel while I was in Germany. Seafood is served different ways in all parts of the world.
                                                                              The other thing I can think of is our version of popcorn. The German variety often has sugar, not salt and butter or other seasonings like we are used to.

                                                                              1. Light pastries!

                                                                                German baked goods-- even the kind that one could get at a "finer" Konditorei-- tend to be absurdly heavy. It's rather difficult to find light, crispy, etc. pastries, save for baklava and the like, in most parts of Germany.

                                                                                They're not exactly light, but pies are rather interesting...

                                                                                Oh! Whipped cream is also pretty ridiculously heavy in Germany, so you could top a slice of whatever with light, sweetened whipped cream.

                                                                                How 'bout various local/artisan cheeses? I can't remember ever having as many different goatsmilk cheeses in Germany as I've had here...

                                                                                It certainly wouldn't be new to your guest, but for whatever reason every always seems to miss Ritter Sport...(?)

                                                                                Frankly speaking, I've had better low-to-mid-priced Italian, Greek, Turkish, and Thai in Germany, but the most part, diasporic Asian and Latin/Mexican food in CA can't be beat in quality and price. I'd never been able to find Japanese/Korean kare (curry) dishes in Germany, for instance. That sad fact pretty pretty much eliminated the possibility of having kare katsu all those visits...

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: PseudoNerd

                                                                                  "German baked goods-- even the kind that one could get at a "finer" Konditorei-- tend to be absurdly heavy."

                                                                                  Try the dampfnudel here with vanilla sauce ...


                                                                                  1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                                    Sorry, but it sounds way too doughy for me even with the Vanillesosse.

                                                                                2. When I visit other countries, I love to see what their ideas of American food is (or "vittles" as my friend called it, thinking that's what Americans call "food"). What about having a German potluck and having people bring what they think is German? Reminds me of that scene from "Better off Dead" with John Cusack where they have a French exchange student and the mom makes her French Fries, French toast and French dressing, all while trying to pronounce it in French.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    Have him make you a traditional German meal. Especially good if he is not really taking to American meals. From my experience a 4 week trip goes like this:
                                                                                    Week 1: Everything is new and different, I'll give it a try
                                                                                    Week 2: I can do this! I can be American, Chinese, Dutch, whatever.
                                                                                    Week 3: Ok, been there, done that I'm ready to go back to what I'm, used to.
                                                                                    Week 4: Can't believe I have to leave all of these wonderful people!

                                                                                    Back home: Thrilled that I accomplished what I did, it has made me a better person and I look at home a little differently now, but the experience is done and I'm back to my routine.