May 10, 2014

How German is America?

I had lunch yesterday with a donor who is an Englishman who has lived all over the world. He brought up the topic of how a lot of aspects of American life strike him as more German than English, such as American newspapers, which have traditionally aspired to be serious, informative, and responsible, while British newspapers like being outrageous and fun.

He then went off to meet with some German friends and writes:
Good brainstorm over a beer with my buddies on the Germanness of America, some of which I already mentioned:
1. TV advertising (slapstick, not subtle) 
2. The Army (are there more German generals than German politicians in the US -- which states does army recruit from?) 

Pershing, Eisenhower, Schwartzkopf
3. Attitude to self improvement

The German poet Rilke's mantra "You must change your life" caught on a lot faster in America, especially California, than Britain. For example, my Swiss German paternal grandfather was a health food nut who moved to Southern California 85 years ago to grow his own food in his yard.
4. Easy to scare (see Hollywood), lack of natural scepticism
5. Taking things serious (the brit needs to be seen not to be trying) 
6. Lack of irony  
7. American English -- tendency to use longer words eg. Transportation rather than Transport, tendency to use "The" ie. "The Congress" rather than just "Congress" 
8. Law abidingness eg. attitude to jaywalking 
9. Food

A lot of quintessentially American food items, such as the hot dog (which FDR famously served to the King of England in 1939), were popularized at the quite German 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.    
    

124 comments:

dearieme said...

Pity you don't have the German attitude to taste in beer. Or the Belgian. Or the British - at least the British as was. Or the Czech. …..

Anonymous said...

Aside from the fact that Americans invented the concept of jaywalking, I don't know a single American that gives a second though about doing it with impunity.

http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-invention-of-jaywalking-was-a-massive-shaming-campa-858926923

SFG said...

Germans-->Midwest-->army. That's the connection.

Of course, we have such purely American foods as the hamburg-er and frankfurt-er...not to mention certain pastries are apparently called 'bismarcks' in the Midwest.

Anonymous said...

You have to be British to enjoy British humor and sensibility.
Also, much of British humor is class-based. It's either snobby fun or anti-snobby fun. But even anti-snobbiness needs a snobby tradition to rebel against.

America has less of a haughty class element. Even American upper classes didn't want to come across as too haughty since the myth of the Revolution has America founded on freedom and liberty than privilege and snobbery.

Also, as America was expanding and frontier places were pretty wild, newspapers sought to emphasize moral values.
Britain, in contrast, took social order for granted.

In America where too many people had guns and freedom, it probably wasn't a good idea to encourage too much fun, especially poking fun as it could lead to blood.

economicsophisms.com said...

@dearieme

America has the amongst the best breweries in the world now. I can think of a few in VT that are every bit as skillful as the top Belgian breweries. Though VT is much more of an English/French Canadian state than a German state. I grant that high end beer drinking hasn't yet worked its way down to the prole hordes.

Anonymous said...

Our American political class is thoroughly British - smug, self-righteous, arrogant and bullying.

albert magnus said...

During all the arguing before the 2003 Iraq war, a British columnist pointed out to his audience that Americans were 24% German, but only 12% English (and then went on to compare Bush to Kaiser Wilhelm or whatever). Now that is probably nonsense since there is a lot of mixing and a lot of Americans have no idea where their ancestors are from, there are large states in the US which are very German (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio), so there might be something to that.

Dave Pinsen said...

Germans are the largest white ethnic group in the US, so some similarities are likely, but 6, 7, 8, & 9 are questionable.

American English shortens words and phrases all the time: "short selling" becomes "shorting", "ex convict" becomes "ex con", und so weiter. And who says "the Congress"?

Irony is a staple of American discourse, American palates are a lot more adventurous than German palates, and Americans violates laws such as the ones against jaywalking all the time.

Anonymous said...

"are there more German generals than German politicians in the US -- which states does army recruit from?"

I think that the group that volunteers for the US army most disproportionately are the (real) Scots Irish who originated in the Scottish lowlands.

Anonymous said...

I guess it depends on what you mean by "German". For me, German equals Nietzsche, but Americans can barely spell the guy's name, much less understand what he was saying.

That said, on some level, Americans often act "Nietzschean" without actually articulating the reasons for their actions in ways that would put him in mind. American Christianity is funny that way.

And, obviously, all of "identity politics" can be traced back to rhetorical tropes originally developed by the Nazis. It's funny to watch American "minorities" spew rhetoric that almost exactly mirrors Nazi rhetoric about "identity" and "authenticity". And don't even get me started on the ways in which the Left's worldview on the relation of the individual and the state is an almost exact replica of Hegel's.

@dearieme
I read an article within the last year or so that said Germans were importing more American beers because the "reinheitsgebot" regulating German beers had become so onerous that they all taste the same, so American beers provided much-needed variety in taste.

Anonymous said...

The Hungarian-American historian John Lukacs has written something similar, on how German the mental habits of Americans are, I think in his book Historical Consciousness. He, as a Hungarian, is not that fond of the Germans and wishes that the United States had better retained an English national character.

a very knowing American said...

Don't mention the Iraq war!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how German is America, but Germany is definitely not American enough. The Germans didn't give the maximum 12 points to Conchita Wurst, the winner of Eurovision 2014.

Anonymous said...

O/T But World War T swept through the Eurovision contest and a transgender won the contest. The Transgender is the new Übermensch of this world.

Polynices said...

Don't forget that our entire higher education system is copied from the Germans via Johns Hopkins.

Anonymous said...

Where does the English propensity for humor come from? What are the earliest examples of it? Modern English humor is easily recognizable as such even if you translate it into another language. It's very distinctive. Was Chaucer's humor already of this specific type? How about Shakespeare's comedies?

Humor could probably play a role in sexual selection. People like a to laugh. If a girl laughs every time she talks to you, she begins to associate your presence with positive emotions. That can only increase your chances with her. But why would sexual selection have taken this particular route in England more than in other countries?

And Ashkenazi propensity for humor is unlikely to have been caused by sexual selection. The Ashkenazi used to arrange their marriages. A girl's parents aren't going to be impressed by a young man's clowning around.

foseti said...

Parts of the US (like the part I grew up in) are very German. It really wasn't until the Second German War that people stopped speaking German.

If you read Edgar Lee Masters biography of Abraham Lincoln (which you definitely should do, seriously), you'll notice Masters' long digressions on Lincoln's pandering to the German vote. I can't find any other good sources on it, but it's interesting to think that a wave of aggressive German Protestantism may have fueled Lincoln's electoral prospects . . . and therefore the Civil War.

Gringo said...

Sin Nombre/Anonymous
You have to be British to enjoy British humor and sensibility.
Also, much of British humor is class-based. It's either snobby fun or anti-snobby fun. But even anti-snobbiness needs a snobby tradition to rebel against.


While British humor does have its differences with American humor, it travels much better in the US than German humor. There is a strong scatological element in German humor, which doesn't seem so funny in the US.

The success of British comedies on PBS stations in the US shows that British humor is something that American audiences appreciate.

My reaction to what I have seen of German humor: why do the Germans think THAT is funny? I have no such reaction to British humor.

Given the number of Americans with German ancestry, it should be no accident there are some resemblances between German and American culture. It also works both ways. Due to the US Armed Forces presence in Germany since 1945, many have described Germany as the most Americanized country in Europe.

While the British Isles have had the greatest influence on American music, there is also some German influence, as in Tejano music: Polka Viva Seguin.

The Z Blog said...

People of German heritage are the single biggest ethnic group in America. Prior to era of open borders, the ratio was much larger. The Irish are the second largest group, followed by Africans and then British.

Given the demographics of Britain, some German on the mother's side is going to be a part of every English speaking country. Despite popular lore, the Brits are not all that Saxon or Viking. Still, there's some.

After the Civil War, American elites embraced German high culture as they replaced Christianity as the organizing religion. Much as the Thirty Years War beat Jesus out of European elites, the American Civil War did the same to American elites.

Anonymous said...

America is very German if you ignore (1) New England (which is French, Italian, Irish, and English), (2) the South (English, Irish, Scottish, Black), and (3) the Hispanic Southwest.

Stretching from New York and Pennsylvania west to the Pacific, north of the Ohio and then due west to Utah on the south border of Kansas and Colorado around Mormon land up the spine of the Rockies, the territory is an area where most whites are German, from Austro-Hungarian ethnic groups (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, etc.), and Scandanvaians. These groups also have an outlier post in the Texas Hill Country.

Since Southerners have their own American culture, this default leaves Mid-American white culture under the dominance of Germans.

Anonymous said...

"tendency to use "The" ie. "The Congress" rather than just "Congress" "

Does anyone in America use the definite article when referring to Congress? Everyone that I know just says "Congress."

Dave Pinsen said...

Conchita Wurst should sing the Sunday Night Football intro next year, in honor of Michael Sam.

Anonymous said...

Much of this seems very debatable:


"1. TV advertising (slapstick, not subtle)"

I don't know. Much of the British TV advertising that I have seen is the polar opposite of subtle...


"2. The Army (are there more German generals than German politicians in the US -- which states does army recruit from?)

Pershing, Eisenhower, Schwartzkopf"

As opposed to Patton, MacArthur, Westmoreland, Bradley, Sherman, Grant, Ridgway, Mark Clark, etc....


"3. Attitude to self improvement"

I don't know. One comes across quite a bit of that in the UK. In fact, Ian Fleming got a lot of mileage out of M's faddishness (health food, etc)


"4. Easy to scare (see Hollywood), lack of natural scepticism"

That's just being silly. The list of British panics is very long. And as for being easy to scare, the phrase "Hammer Horror" comes to mind.


"5. Taking things serious (the brit needs to be seen not to be trying)"

Needs to visit California. Looking as though one is working hard is the ultimate faux pas over there.


"6. Lack of irony"

The British do love to pat themselves on the back for their exquisite sense of irony, but the trait seems to exist more in the realm of myth than of fact.


"7. American English -- tendency to use longer words eg. Transportation rather than Transport,"

We can go back and forth on that one.

"tendency to use "The""

Why not write "definite article?"And, yes, Americans do use it more often than the British.

"ie. "The Congress" rather than just "Congress""

This example seems very wrong to my ear.


"8. Law abidingness eg. attitude to jaywalking"

Has he never been to New York?


"9. Food"

One could also add in Amerind elements (corn bread), Italian dishes (pizza), etc.

Anonymous said...

Don't mention the Iraq war!

Oh very well played sir!

Anonymous said...

foseti:"If you read Edgar Lee Masters biography of Abraham Lincoln (which you definitely should do, seriously),"

I have. It was unbelievably bad. Phrases like "Copperhead tract" come to mind.

foseti:"you'll notice Masters' long digressions on Lincoln's pandering to the German vote. I can't find any other good sources on it, but it's interesting to think that a wave of aggressive German Protestantism may have fueled Lincoln's electoral prospects . . ."

More like Lincoln was a canny politician who was attempting to appeal to an influential bloc (cf Carl Schurz, etc)



"and therefore the Civil War."

Well, the Germans were strongly anti-slavery in sentiment. Of course, the South was growing increasingly fanatical on the topic of slavery....

Anonymous said...

The Hungarian-American historian John Lukacs has written something similar, on how German the mental habits of Americans are, I think in his book Historical Consciousness. He, as a Hungarian, is not that fond of the Germans and wishes that the United States had better retained an English national character.

Lukacs is Jewish. He predictably bears ill will toward German people.

Do ethnic Hungarians in fact have a grudge against Germany? Didn't they partner together to partition parts of Czechoslovakia?

Rohan Swee said...

5/10/14, 3:25 PM: You have to be British to enjoy British humor and sensibility.

Yeah, British humor doesn't travel. Can't think of a British comedy export ever enjoyed by a foreigner.

America has less of a haughty class element. Even American upper classes didn't want to come across as too haughty...

It's a big country. With how many truly upper class people have most of us Americans of the lower economic ranks ever had contact? I sure haven't. Seen from afar, the moneyed elite and their well-compensated political lackeys seem plenty haughty enough to me these days. Maybe guileless Americans (must be the German blood) just aren't too sharp about noticing that they're being spat upon.

In America where too many people had guns and freedom...

Until quite recently Brits had lots of guns and freedom, too.

Anonymous said...

Allan Bloom was right! German philosophers done it!

Anonymous said...

"The success of British comedies on PBS stations in the US shows that British humor is something that American audiences appreciate."

Actually, huge parts of the world appreciate it. Growing up in Moscow in the 1980s I first came upon it between the ages of 10 and 12 when I read Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat in Russian translation. I've loved British humor ever since.

A very wide range of people can appreciate it. For example I know that upper class East Indians love it. I have a feeling that only Englishmen can produce it though.

Anonymous said...

Hollywood blockbusters have being getting ever more Wagnerian.

And American are music crazy like the Germans were.

And the cowboy and Indian thing was like Romans vs Germanic barbarians.

Anonymous said...

Woodstock and nudie cult.

Anonymous said...

Nature worship.

Anonymous said...

German-Jewish retail and banking.

Anonymous said...

Modern university. German model find most fertile soil in 20th century America.

Anonymous said...

Brits: class-ness.

Germans: folkishness.

American love country music, folkish celebration of Americana, etc.

Palin is folkish than class-ish.

Anonymous said...

Did the British band The Clash call itself so as a play on 'class'?

Anonymous said...

Germans like big hearty meals.

Americans super size me.

Anonymous said...

Boers eventually beat the British in South Africa. Brits won battle, Boers won the war politically and culturally.

Maybe the German soul thing was stronger than Anglo thing in America.

Anonymous said...

Rugby, very British.
Cricket, very British.

But football and baseball are like Germanic Wagerian bigass version of rugby and cricket.

Anonymous said...

So what is dearieme like in person? I've always vundered.

Anonymous said...

Hitler and autobahn.

Americans also car crazy.

And both more machine crazy than Brits.

German rocket scientists and American space race.

Anonymous said...

My Hanseatic Grand-Pap was a "These United States" guy. Don't hear that much any more.

Anonymous said...

British were elite-centric, Germans were mass-centric.

British thought the best should rule at top, and everyone else should know his or her place and act accordingly.

Germans felt all Germans should be mass-educated and stuff and made into good citizens.

As America was huge and all Americans needed to be united as one people, the German system won out. The very idea of kindergarten that ideally sought to universalize child care and education was very German.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting how little impact non-jewish german-americans, who outnumber even african-americans and anglo-americans, have had on american culture. Someone needs to write a book on that.

Anglos, jews and africans are by far the most impactful ethnicities in America.

Anonymous said...

I am willing to bet that german-americans, italian-americans and slavic-americans are heavily under-represented in the elite colleges of America. More so than african-americans and hispanic-americans.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten to spend some extended time with brits in the UK, as well as Germans who've never left Germany, and I've said ever since that Americans share a LOT more cultural shorthand with the Germans than the with the brits.

Most were of Protestant leanings, but I met quite a few who reminded my of wholistic california hippies, and others who were very enterprising, I might say "pushy," kinds of folks who loved to work hard and play hard.
As far as irony, the Germans I was around were quite cognizant of it.
They do like to follow the rules, but not like the carpenter ant Chinese way. They just adhere to a sense of community.
Only difference in social style between us and the Germans is Germans can be very aggressive socially, and don't think twice about it.
"Pushy" would be the word.
German immigrants like the turkish and muslims, and none of it applies. They bring their game with them from their former country, which is why the parts of Germany that sucks... sucks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Said:
"It is interesting how little impact non-jewish german-americans, who outnumber even african-americans and anglo-americans, have had on american culture. Someone needs to write a book on that."

Yeah, I've always said to myself, "why didn't we americans pay more attention to the Apollo project, or the space race? And how come nobody cares about German engineering anyway? Commercial jetliners just sit on the runway empty. Same with all those big buildings in NYC. Nobody likes 'em. On a lesser scale, "hotdogs" and "hamburgers" never caught on. Guess Americans just don't care what Germans have to offer.

Anonymous said...

"Hitler and autobahn.

Americans also car crazy.

And both more machine crazy than Brits."

On the other hand, the Australians are also noted for their car-centric culture, and, last time I checked, the Antipodes were not known for their vast German population...

Anonymous said...

"Boers eventually beat the British in South Africa. Brits won battle, Boers won the war politically and culturally.

Maybe the German soul thing was stronger than Anglo thing in America."

Well, minus that business about the USA speaking English and not German. And the USA going to war (twice) against the Germans...

Anonymous said...

Brits are Germanics too

Anonymous said...

Pity you don't have the German attitude to taste in beer. Or the Belgian. Or the British - at least the British as was. Or the Czech.

American beer is pretty good now, at least the Schwippelbräuen. Likewise for coffee. No one does a light beer like the Czechs though.

Anonymous said...

Marching bands and kindergarten are both German imports that found fertile ground in the US, Johns Hopkins and Charles Eliot's Harvard imported the German style research university onto US soil replacing the Scottish influenced four year teaching college for the big colleges. Americans are also much more into exercise and sports than the Brits are, also a lot like the Germans. The Brits stuck me as the last major industrial nation that got into "working out" probably a good decade or more after everyone else did.

On the other hand, the Australians are also noted for their car-centric culture, and, last time I checked, the Antipodes were not known for their vast German population...

I was under the impression that Australia, although not NZ got a good number of German immigrants, as well as quite a few after WW2. Plus Australia is like a gigantic California climate wise.

Anonymous said...

My reaction to what I have seen of German humor: why do the Germans think THAT is funny? I have no such reaction to British humor.

Have you seen "Good Bye Lenin!"? The 2001 homage scene was classic. I found it rather funny.

Anonymous said...

Some odd stereotypes being referenced in this discussion. Before the 1930s Germans were as class-obsessed as Brits (if not moreso - this is the country that produced the 'Almanach de Gotha' after all)

This is one of the things the Nazis got right - Hitler had no toleration for this kind of snobbery and all Germans, regardless of ancestry, had an equal chance to advance themselves in the New Germany.

James Kabala said...

I never heard "the Congress" as far as I can remember. George W. Bush used to say "cut the taxes" and someone (maybe Steve?) hypothesized that it was Mexican influence! Maybe he said "the Congress" too; I can't remember.

SFG said...

Just for fun, here is the German attempt at country music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l27ANMrahew

Sounds more like a Schlager than Garth Brooks, but very pretty...

Anonymous said...

I've read that a lot of our Christmas traditions originate in Germany....trees, mistletoe, Santa Clause, Rudolf, Bliztzen, etc .

The contribution of Germans to America is huge, I would say foundational, but Germans don't identify as an ethnic group in the way Irish or Italians do, so they don't really get credit, because everything they've contributed is taken for granted and just assumed to be naturally 'American'

Anonymous said...

"It is interesting how little impact non-jewish german-americans, who outnumber even african-americans and anglo-americans, have had on american culture. Someone needs to write a book on that."

Their character, and that of other Germanics (Anglo, Scots), is the glue that has kept the whole thing together.

Anonymous said...

"The British do love to pat themselves on the back for their exquisite sense of irony, but the trait seems to exist more in the realm of myth than of fact."

It's not always easy to spot.

Matra said...

The use of the definite article is also much more common in Northern Ireland (think Scots-Irish) than in England. So it could come from there.

I don't believe there are more Americans of German extraction than British. Let's see some real evidence other than census survey nonsense.

Since my first visit to America I noticed a lot of very sweet tasting food. I've often wondered where the American sweet tooth comes from as it can't be from Britain. Germany?

Pity you don't have the German attitude to taste in beer.

They have far better beers than Germany. Even the few good German beers - usually hefeweizen or rauchbier- are more likely to be found in the USA than in the beer desert that is Germany.

Good Beer in Berlin? Finally

BTW the most popular beer in the UK is Carling fizzy piss. The most popular in Belgium is Jupiler fizzy piss. The masses in every country prefer rubbish beer.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the Germans that came to America thought of themselves as Hessians, Alsatians, Bavarians, etc.. A lot of south Germans came to America because they didn't want to live under a Prussian Germany or didn't want to get drafted.

Austro-Prussian War (1866):

"The major result of the war was a shift in power among the German states away from Austrian and towards Prussian hegemony, and impetus towards the unification of all of the northern German states in a Kleindeutschland that excluded Austria..."

Maybe that's one reason Under the Double Eagle was so popular in old-time country music...

Anonymous said...

Well, not exactly all of them.

Anonymous said...

Is it assimilation to Anglo norms by the German populations of U.S./Australia or something in the Anglo norms that is Germanic anyway?

Take cricket in Australia. I would argue German-Australians are much over-represented per capita in Australian teams at national and state level. Hayden, Langer in the 90s/2000s, Pommelsbach and others today. Historically I would guess the German-Australian populations of South Australia/Queensland took up the game with enthusiasm post WW1 to show their loyalty and assimilation to the then vast Anglo predominant norms.

A German lady friend though who emigrated to Australia as a teenager had a different interpretation, "Of course Germans like cricket. It's all very rule-based and repressed!"

Now my friend's favourite tv police show at the moment is "Inspector George Gently" set in Northumberland/Durham. I watched an ep. Old George he's full of angst, takes everyone's problems seriously, never smiles.

So do cricket and Gently, quintessential representations of 'Englishness', appeal to those of German descent or is there something Germanic within them?

Jean Cocteausten said...

The Appalachian cultural hearth and its diaspora (the upper South, Texas and the West including much of central and southern California) are what most people think of as quintessentially American, whether they like it or not.

But people underestimate the German element in all that. They think Appalachia was all Scots-Irish, but it isn't that simple. Germans came in through Pennsylvania, traveled south through Virginia and NC, and left their mark in many ways. German was spoken in many western Virginia towns through the early 1800s. The log cabin and the Conestoga wagon - German innovations. German foods like stack cakes, sausage, and sauerkraut are still found in those areas as well.

Dale Earnhardt was a good ol' boy from western North Carolina whose name doesn't sound at all out of place in the NASCAR pantheon. But it's as German as they come.

The ultimate redneck of German, not Scots Irish extraction, was of course Chuck Yeager. (Jäger)

Just Another Guy With a1911 said...

Mrs. 1911 is eine Deutche frau. (She also give me crap about my bad German). And she hates, hates, hates it here for many of the reason us in iSteveland hate it here. And, of course, I get why she hates here. What bothers me, sometimes, is being profoundly estranged from the country I was born and raised in.

Anyway, when Mrs. 1911 runs across people of German ancestry in her chosen field and however many generations they are removed from their native soil she will identify something in their character that she can bond with, understand; she will tell me there is something German about them - "1911, he's German."

So, as an added benefit,I do not to be like "hey, have ya read the newest Nick Wade Book. New York Times! New York Times." She gets it.

I will follow her into the dark.

http://youtu.be/LfNVfiqKBeM

Anonymous said...

The major waves of German immigration were before 1870, so the people who came were not nationalistic about Germany per se.

A key element of German-American similarity is the Protestantism without an established state church.

DR said...

"Pity you don't have the German attitude to taste in beer. Or the Belgian. Or the British - at least the British as was. Or the Czech. …."

The highest critically rated beer in the world is almost universally American, with a few Belgian and British showings.

http://www.beeradvocate.com/lists/top/

Anonymous said...

Americans are basically feral Germans. What Germans would be if they had unlimited room, and no serious enemies.

Which is pretty good, because if you want to see what feral Britons turn out like, look at English canada. A far inferior culture.

ironrailsironweights said...

Significant German immigration ended generations ago. In most cases German-surnamed people in America are a mix of different European ancestries and have no ties whatsoever to Germanic culture. If your father's father's father's father was a German immigrant named Schmidt, you might identify as being of German ancestry just because your last name would be Schmidt even if the vast majority of your ancestors were non-German.

Peter

Andrew Sullivan and Bearded Drag Queens said...

Maybe an urban(?) legend but I remember reading in the early 90s that the reason the U.S. doesn't have an official/state-established language is because some of the Framers clung to an idea of conducting all official federal business in German. Most likely that bizarre factoid was courtesy of some contemporary Time or Newsweek piece endorsing bilingual education or whatever (plus ca change, eh).

Anonymous said...

"Before the 1930s Germans were as class-obsessed as Brits"

But you can't be very classy speaking German.

Ja, dearen guten boyischer, vould sie liken tea und crumpetisheraufen?

Besides, as Germany was late to unify, it had to emphasize blood and folk over class.

So, even though Germany was about rigid hierarchy, it wasn't as into classology.


Anonymous said...

mencken was into nietch

Hasslehof said...

Allan Bloom was right! German philosophers done it!

To paraphrase Lenny Bruce (ne Schneider)-- "We did it; I did it; my family did it. We found the note, in the basement, that said, 'We did them in-- signed, Maximilian'"

Anonymous said...

The ultimate redneck of German, not Scots Irish extraction, was of course Chuck Yeager. (Jäger)

I believe it was Swiss-German gunsmiths, very early immigrants, who "invented" and developed the Kentucky long-rifle, icon of Appalachia, which originally was basically a rifle for long-range hunting in the Alps.

Peter Akuleyev said...

Here is a clip from Heute Show (in German) making fun of David McAllister - the German politician with a British Father who went to British elementary school and grew up in an English enclave in Berlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJvZB4sBVSc

Notice how you can easily imagine all the Germans in this clip, just from body language, appearance, etc. as Americans, (they could easily be in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania) except McAllister. Even though McAllister speaks native German he has a very English quality to his demeanor which is alien to both Germans and Americans.

This is probably good evidence that the Whorf Sapir hypothesis is bogus.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that for much of its history American was a country with an English upper class, German middle class, and black and Indian (and later Irish and Italian) underclass.

That to me explains the English form of government, German work ethic and religion, and black-Italian entertainment.

ysv_rao said...

The British and Americans seem oddly a cognate lot .

The British population consisting of course of mostly English people are ruled by a German monarchy

While the Americans whose largest ethnic block hails from German speaking peoples have leaders overwhelmingly of English lineage.

And that includes half WASP FDR and the King of England(of Saxe Coburg Gotha changed to Windsor in the anti German riots of 1915) in 1939.
Doubtless the latter was very familiar with the sausage but had to feign ignorance because well.. 1939!

There was false myth that I believe is still being taught in American high schools that the Founders considered German as the national language due to their hostility to the British as well as the large number of German immigrants present

However as most here pointed ,most of the German stock arrived here in the late 1800s which wouldve horrified Benjamin Franklin because the latter felt the Germans werent blond enough!
I wonder how Hitler felt about that titbit

Anonymous said...

British is still the largest, just a lot of American's English ancestors are so far back they don't get checked. Irrelevant though, the US is Latino now, I found NY very changed on my last visit.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the biggest and most obvious difference is the sense of humor, or rather lack of sense of humor.

One of the most salienyt characteristics about England - I can't really talk about Scotland or Ireland, is the absolute and deeply engrained 'mickey-taking' that goes on everywhere, the non-stop flow of jokes, puns and mocking banter and the reverence accorded to comedians who are rather like official court jesters with a licence to mock and humiliate. This is the nation of Benny Hill, the Two Ronnies, Kenny Everett, Dick Emery, Monty Python, Steptoe, Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Tony Hancock, Carry On, On the Buses and legions of others. In England the licenced mocker, often with cruel, sarcastic and downright nasty humor, is allowed to say the unsaleable and mock the most pious and pompous, vide Irishman Dave Allen's mockery of catholicism.
In all serious, as a guide to the reality of life as it was lived in England, I urge all iterested Americans just to watch two English movies, namely the 'On the Buses' feature film, (the first one), and the 'Steptoe and Son' feature film. If you can watch re-runs of 'Dad's Army' that would help too. And Benny Hill shows that the famous 'English reserve' is a lot more nuanced than you might think. Benny Hill represents a deep national archetype, the epitome of the cheeky and cheerful joker mocking his way through life's adversities, in this context the famous 'McGill' seaside postcards deserve a look.
From what I've heard, for some strange reason, German humor, if it can be called that is mainly what I must, ahem, call 'scat', not to offend readers here. Yes, really, it all revolves around what Americans strangely and euphemistically call 'bathroom humor', (as an aside, I always assumed that 'making 'bathroom noises' meant imitating water going down a plug-hole, even the most prudish Brit calls a 'toilet' a 'toilet'). Apparently that is the Geramn national obsession and 'butt' of all humor.

Anonymous said...

***"Pity you don't have the German attitude to taste in beer. Or the Belgian. Or the British - at least the British as was. Or the Czech. ….. "***

Uh, that observation might have been true thirty or forty years ago but it is not true today. American beer tastes have gotten much better and more diverse, whilst Europe has gone in the opposite direction.

The late beer writer Michael Jackson (who was "Scots-Irish" in the iSteve sense, not that that is relevant, just getting it out of the way before someone mentions it) observed, there is a greater variety and choice of beer in the USA than you can find in Europe. Much of which is as good as anything you can find in Europe. Some of it better.

Yes the masses still drink mass market swill, but that's increasingly the case in Europe too. Most beer drinkers in England are not members of CAMRA and most Belgian beer drinkers are not quaffing artisinal gueuze or lambic or Trappist ales, etc.

Zachary Latif said...

I remember I jaywalked over the bridge in Austin at SXSW last year. My Texan friends were horrified (the very same who horrified my Brit friend at believing guns = liberty) and to top it off I did it right in front of a police car, that flashed it's sirens.

In London jaywalking is so common that it's not commented upon, so long as you use your common sense (same logic applies to roundabouts, which are far better for traffic than junctions).

Anonymous said...

***A German lady friend though who emigrated to Australia as a teenager had a different interpretation, "Of course Germans like cricket. It's all very rule-based and repressed!"***

Cricket was introduced from England into Germany in the 19th century at the same time that (field) hockey, rugby and football (soccer) were. Football took off in a huge way in Germany as we all know; (field) hockey became a pretty popular amateur sport, rugby found a niche in a few German universities, and cricket, well, cricket pretty much never caught on. So I think your friends theory needs some work.

Looking at the wiki Germany has had a small cricket presence since the 1990's but their "national" cricket team seems to be made up mostly of Indians and other obvious non-natives. Ex-pats and immigrants no doubt. Similar to the USA cricket team.

Cricket did find a small place as a niche sport in the Netherlands though, in the 19th century which has lasted until now. Looking at their national team you see lots of obviously Dutch names.

Anonymous said...

Americans are also much more into exercise and sports than the Brits are, also a lot like the Germans. The Brits stuck me as the last major industrial nation that got into "working out" probably a good decade or more after everyone else did.

I don't think that's German influence; Australia is also hugely into sports and exercise and didn't get any significant German (or non-British/Irish) immigration until after WWII. Australia was challenging English domination of cricket in the 19th century so this isn't a post-WWII thing either.

No doubt that the USA and Australia both being frontier societies with better climates than Britain had something to do with it. Also, like Germany they were new nations and new nations tend to go into the sports thing as a way of creating national identity, which isn't something Britain much cared about until other, non-British-derived countries starting beating Britain at sports the British had invented. So it isn't Germany influencing the USA or Australia; it is all three countries having inferiority complexes/new kid on the block stigma channeling that into sports.

Anonymous said...

The Czechs brew the best beer, followed by the Belgians, the Americans the British then the Germans.

American craft brews, as mentioned, are the only growth segment in the German beer market.

To DR and the guy pimping Vermont's brews, as I tell every zombie going all wine nerd on the Beer Advocate site and waxing evangelical about how Heady Topper is by far the best beer in the world, you really need to get out more.

Did you notice something about the Beer Advocate list? The Top 10 are all 8% ABV or above. It's very American in its lack of subtlety.

The Czechs are too busy DRINKING their excellent beer to bother blathering like Robert Parker about the experience.

Reg Cæsar said...

even the most prudish Brit calls a 'toilet' a 'toilet'

There's a subtle difference here that most people in both countries miss. 'Toilet' in America refers specifically to the commode, while in Britain it refers to the entire room (as does the slang term "john" in the States.)

So saying "Mother is in the toilet" will bring very different images to mind.

(And wish her Happy Mothers' Day when she comes out!)

Anonymous said...

When I "jaywalk" in London, i.e. cross the street, I'm not breaking any laws.

If the existence of jaywalking as a concept says something about the Germanness of Americans, it says they have a Teutonic love of making laws to govern everyday things, not that they like obeying them.

Anonymous said...

Fascination with Indian philosophy. Transcendentalism, Idealism, Romanticism all have Indian roots and a greater impact in Germany and the US than in England. Hippiedom is a fusion of pre-Weimar German culture and Indian philosophy.

Anonymous said...

This is the nation of Benny Hill, the Two Ronnies, Kenny Everett, Dick Emery, Monty Python, Steptoe, Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Tony Hancock, Carry On, On the Buses and legions of others.


You're living in the past, as your examples well illustrate. Modern England is as PC as any uptight American university. In a story which Steve missed because he was too busy obsessing over Sterling, a British political figure was recently arrested ... for quoting Winston Churchill.

Modern England is where America is headed. It's "Brave New World" and "1984" come to live.

Matt said...

Steve, some of these are more attitudinal differences between the Oxbridge-Eton axis than they are overall cultural differences (although the presence of that axis itself is a cultural difference, likely owing to Britain's very slow and organic development into capitalism and modern government).

For instance, the Hyacinth Bucket-y Middle and Lower British classes care a lot more about social climbing than effortless dominance (aka don't try, so that the social situation stays as it is, thanks very much).

Generally, self improvement is an interesting one.

A cultural trait here is certainly the refusal to feel so guilty about binge drinking and so on. Guilt over hedonism isn't a hugely pronounced trait. Compared to Germans and the Far East we're less than enthusiastic about high school education as opposed to university and real life skills - you can see how we lag in the PISA on high schools, then fair strongly in the real life skills tests and university level education (we can be mindful some of this is international students though).

Ultimately, it's not about improving yourself to meet an ideal so much as achieving social acceptance and pursuing your own interests, here. Germans seem more likely to break off from society and their way of life to perfect themselves, very earnestly, while the English only do this out of "eccentricities" - hobbies and interests, not programs of self perfection and improvement. We see ourselves largely as good enough as is, self deprecation, y fronts, wonky teeth and all (sometimes a trait that breeds mediocrity and overweight, sometimes a joyous thing that breeds self esteem and confidence).

Re: sports, it's interesting that you guys think British people aren't into sports or exercise. There is some truth in this (self improvement isn't that big here), but I suspect this is your tendency to view us as bookish intellectuals, a role that many Oxbridge / RSC masters of language tend to only be too pleased to play up for you.

Law abidingness, as an idealised general trait, is interesting. Tax morale is similar between the two countries, but Britain's longer history of democratic and constitutional government does seem a bit to go with the traits of seeing the law simultaneously both as challengable, accountable and as an ass. Germans are founded by more on a history of authoritarianism and the Napoleonic Code. I'd say it's similar to Brits for Americans' except you guys have more of a cult of the Constitution, as you need your civic religion to hold you together, and you tend to be more embittered when you discover the true role of money in your politics.

I do agree that Americans, like Germans, tend to be romantic, pragmatic, idealistic and cynical, by turns, rather than realistic, playful or skeptical.

Always interesting how these topics bring out the Anglophobes...

ben tillman said...


While British humor does have its differences with American humor, it travels much better in the US than German humor. There is a strong scatological element in German humor, which doesn't seem so funny in the US.

You get some of it here. This brings to mind the incident involving the MOB, Reveille, and the fire hydrant at the Rice/TAMU game back in '73.

Matt said...

On food - Americans certainly adopted a lot of the Germans' ways with meat and wheat bread, but they don't seem to have really taken very well to many flavors I as an English person think of as signaturely German, like sauerkraut, sauerbraten, rollmops, german noodles, white asparagus, german mustard, german cheeses, rye bread. These are more regional curiosities in your country.

Look up German cuisine on Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_cuisine. See how many of these dishes strike you as having a similar flavor profile to American foods.

The biggest influences in American food is probably the cooking of the South, which is generally a kind of British-West African mix (and yes, Louisiana is more interesting, but still).

Germans have had influences on the American beer tradition, but your tradition of spirits seems assuredly Scotch-Irish (or wholly indigenous). Bourbon whiskey is essentially your indigenous spirit, and the product you are able to export in competitive world markets. You're not schnapps drinkers, despite that you had the climate for it. You liked your gin back when Britain influence was at its peak influence, but are no Martini drinkers today.

Anthony said...

One reason there is very little outward expression of German heritage in the U.S. is that it was forcibly suppressed during The Great War. States passed laws banning speaking German in public, stopped teaching German in school, and harassed German-language newspapers. The feds sent agents to monitor Lutheran services for unpatriotic content, and inoculated the German-American Bunds.

Many German restaurants and such became "Swiss", because that was politically safer.

All this happened under Democrat Woodrow Wilson, which resulted in Germans being the one ethnic group in the U.S. to be reliably Republican for a long time.

Anonymous said...

lunch with a donor? wait ... did I miss a silent auction or something? How much was the blowout in Vegas?

Dan Kurt said...

re: "...I don't know a single American that gives a second though about doing it with impunity. " ANON


Get a >$50.00 fine for jaywalking while visiting Seattle circa 10 years ago and one starts having second, third and higher thoughts about crossing streets. A leather clad, beer-bellied, motorcycle cop ran and nabbed me near the Pike Place Market. What idiocy! High School as a model for running a city--Seattle
Dan Kurt

Anonymous said...

Of course, refuting the idea that America is very German is probably a very German thing to do, while going along with the joke is probably more British.

But, "8. Law abidingness eg. attitude to jaywalking"?

I don't think I have taken an extra step to use a crosswalk in my entire life. And I've never heard of anyone being ticketed for jaywalking (but if I had, I'm sure it would have been in California).

Well, the Germans were strongly anti-slavery in sentiment. Of course, the South was growing increasingly fanatical on the topic of independence

FIFY.

Hollywood blockbusters have being getting ever more Wagnerian.

Everything on a screen, really. Costumes are a big one (e.g., Revolution is one prominent example on TV. Video games are into the fascist aesthetic, big time). I find it very amusing.

My Hanseatic Grand-Pap was a "These United States" guy. Don't hear that much any more.

I try to work it in now and then. It makes a point (States aren't provinces, they're sovereign).

Brits are Germanics too

Right. You probably have to be a Germanic to have this discussion.

Schwippelbräuen

Hah.

Hey, I've found an interesting one: can we really call it German that I don't drink beer any more because it's got way too many calories? Don't think about that one too hard, your head might explode. I'm pretty sure that's gotta be American-American ("Puritan" "WASP"?).

I don't believe there are more Americans of German extraction than British. Let's see some real evidence other than census survey nonsense.

I kind of got the feeling that everyone here knows that "American" on the census is largely a euphemism for "British," but maybe not.

The major waves of German immigration were before 1870, so the people who came were not nationalistic about Germany per se.

That's interesting. I'd never considered that, but it's pretty obvious now that you mention it.

Anonymous said...

not Congress, but hospital and university

Anonymous said...

So do cricket and Gently, quintessential representations of 'Englishness', appeal to those of German descent or is there something Germanic within them?

Cricket appeals to Indians, Pakistanis, and Carribean islanders, in fact more so than it appeals to modern English people (who overwhelmingly prefer soccer.) There is nothing English or Germanic about cricket.

Anonymous said...

"I always thought that for much of its history American was a country with an English upper class, German middle class, and black and Indian (and later Irish and Italian) underclass.

That to me explains the English form of government, German work ethic and religion, and black-Italian entertainment."

You actually think the upper class in America is English?

In America, the upperclass also shapes the entertainment.

Mr. Anon said...

"Maybe an urban(?) legend but I remember reading in the early 90s that the reason the U.S. doesn't have an official/state-established language is because some of the Framers clung to an idea of conducting all official federal business in German."

It is an often told falsehood. At some point in the 18th century, the Pennsylvania legislature took up a motion to make German the official language of Pennsylvania. It lost. German was never that wide-spread in the US. There were german-speaking enclaves in the midwest - some small towns, and parts of big cities like St. Louis and Milwaukee.

I do not percieve that german culture has had a large influence on America. Bits and pieces here and there, but nothing essential. America has the dismissive attitude toward labor and the devil-take-the-hindmost individualism which is more characteristic of England than of Germany.

If anything, jewish culture may well have a greater influence on contemporary America than does german.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

But you can't be very classy speaking German."

No, German can be quite classy. But you can't be very classy speaking German with an american accent.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps the biggest and most obvious difference is the sense of humor, or rather lack of sense of humor."

Germans banned humor after this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gpjk_MaCGM

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Germany, and i can promise you that it is not simply a question of jaywalking. If you stand at a street corner and the light is red, you just do not cross against it, even if there is literally nothing moving on the road.
Or, if you do, God help you.



Anonymous said...

In all serious, as a guide to the reality of life as it was lived in England, I urge all iterested Americans just to watch two English movies, namely the 'On the Buses' feature film, (the first one), and the 'Steptoe and Son' feature film. If you can watch re-runs of 'Dad's Army' that would help too.


That's like saying that foreigners can gain a good insight in the realities everyday American life by watching old American movies and TV shows. Nothing could be further from the truth. Watching "The Rockford Files" and "Magnum PI" and "Miami Vice" (comparable in age to the British shows you mention) does not give a window into the American psyche.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not an accident that Germans adapted democracy so easily after WWII. They were for the first time confronted with the peculiar American kind of democracy and felt instinctively attracted - much more attracted than with the French variant -, because they felt that they re-detected traditions which had been German before.

Anonymous said...

Some more interesting German impacts on American culture:
- cultural anthropology and cultural relativism (Boas and Ruth Benedict were highly influenced by German thinking)
- "Realpolitik" in the sense of Kissinger or Leo Strauss

ben tillman said...

It's a big country. With how many truly upper class people have most of us Americans of the lower economic ranks ever had contact? I sure haven't.

I guess it varies widely. I've dated and hung out with lots of upper-class people. I'll spare you the details, although I do have a lot of stories I'd like to tell.

ben tillman said...

No, German can be quite classy. But you can't be very classy speaking German with an american accent.

When I lived in Manhattan, one of my roommates was dating a German aristocrat (whom he later married). She told me that, when I drank and spoke German, I sounded like her father. Apparently, believe it or not, I can speak German with an upper-class German accent. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Anonymous said...

Of course, refuting the idea that America is very German is probably a very German thing to do, while going along with the joke is probably more British.

But, "8. Law abidingness eg. attitude to jaywalking"?

I don't think I have taken an extra step to use a crosswalk in my entire life. And I've never heard of anyone being ticketed for jaywalking (but if I had, I'm sure it would have been in California).

Well, the Germans were strongly anti-slavery in sentiment. Of course, the South was growing increasingly fanatical on the topic of independence

FIFY.

Hollywood blockbusters have being getting ever more Wagnerian.

Everything on a screen, really. Costumes are a big one (e.g., Revolution is one prominent example on TV. Video games are into the fascist aesthetic, big time). I find it very amusing.

My Hanseatic Grand-Pap was a "These United States" guy. Don't hear that much any more.

I try to work it in now and then. It makes a point (States aren't provinces, they're sovereign).

Brits are Germanics too

Right. You probably have to be a Germanic to have this discussion.

Schwippelbräuen

Hah.

Hey, I've found an interesting one: can we really call it German that I don't drink beer any more because it's got way too many calories? Don't think about that one too hard, your head might explode. I'm pretty sure that's gotta be American-American ("Puritan" "WASP"?).

I don't believe there are more Americans of German extraction than British. Let's see some real evidence other than census survey nonsense.

I kind of got the feeling that everyone here knows that "American" on the census is largely a euphemism for "British," but maybe not.

The major waves of German immigration were before 1870, so the people who came were not nationalistic about Germany per se.

That's interesting. I'd never considered that, but it's pretty obvious now that you mention it.

Anonymous said...

Brits took great pride in administration whereas Germans took great pride in building stuff.

America had much building to do, and so it became more Germanic minded.

Of course, UK was famous for industrial revolution and all that, the British elites disdained 'industry' as it meant oil and grease and lower classes and such.

While class snobbery existed in Germany, Germany took greater pride in their tradition of craft and artisanship and stuff.

It's like in the TV series Centennial. Timothy Dalton tells the two cowhands that when the blizzard came, he wanted to go outside and help them, but he just couldn't. He chose to remain in the mansion and lead the life of a gentleman.

Dalton explains why he's too much of an English gentleman type to become truly American.

The German farmer who works and works and works.

Maybe Germans and Scandinavian farmers worked all the harder since they weren't so good at English. Since they couldn't win by talking, they just worked harder and became doers.

Anonymous said...

I am of mostly German ancestry, though I was brought up with virtually no ethnic identity. WWII aftermath and all. Grew up in an area that was still heavily German-influenced and now live in the suburbs of a Midwestern city. My sense is that American society is moving away from German traits such as frugality, introspection, introversion, and desire for privacy. If it is seems so in the Midwest,gosh knows what it must be like in California!
Do you think someone like Angela Merkel could ever get elected in the U.S.?

JayMan said...

Quite.

See

Germania’s Seed? | JayMan's Blog

JayMan said...

Also, of course:

"The Midlands", the area of the country regarded in many ways as quintessential America is heavily German and always was. German-Americans are a major component of the Midlands and western "Yankeedom":

Flags of the American Nations | JayMan's Blog

Maps of the American Nations | JayMan's Blog

Rural White Liberals – a Key to Understanding the Political Divide | JayMan's Blog

Anonymous said...

Tacitus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germania_(book)

Ibn Fadlan

http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/montgo1.pdf

Anonymous said...

The Simpsons have quite a German sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

even the most prudish Brit calls a 'toilet' a 'toilet'

Even those that go to the loo?

Anonymous said...

JayMan's map is interesting.

I read somewhere that there are x regions of the US and Canada.

New England, the Rust Belt, South, the Citied west coast, the Empty Quarter.

The Citied West Coast is California, Oregon, Washington and Vancouver.

Just beside the Citied West Coast is the area of US and Canada that comprises 25% of the land area and has 4% of the population hence its name The Empty Quarter.

As I have named 5 I hope that somebody can find the original.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the urban Midwest of mostly German descent and I feel more at home in Germany than Britain despite the language difference. Germans and Americans are both direct and straightforward, unlike the British. I think the German-ness of America is so intrinsic as to be not even noticeable.

Anonymous said...

There are more people of British ancestry in the US than German. 8.7% identify as English, 1.7% as Scottish and 7.2% as "American", nearly all of whom are of Scotch-Irish or some other sort of British descent. That's 17.6% right there, compared to 15.2% for Germans. And that doesn't take into account the fact that a lot of those who claim to be of German ancestry probably have a lot of ancestors of nondescript British heritage.

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbGVIdA3dx0

A world of pansy futuristic English aristocrats vs Germanic barbaroids.

Anonymous said...

On food - Americans certainly adopted a lot of the Germans' ways with meat and wheat bread, but they don't seem to have really taken very well to many flavors I as an English person think of as signaturely German, like sauerkraut, sauerbraten, rollmops, german noodles, white asparagus, german mustard, german cheeses, rye bread. These are more regional curiosities in your country.

You need to get to know the USA better. There are lots of regions in the USA with a strong German culinary influence (or German/Czech/Hungarian/Mitteleuropa). Go to Texas, the Texas Germans had a big influence on Texas barbeque (and even earlier on South Carolina barbeque) and on such dishes as "Chicken Fried Steak" which is just a Southern interpretation of Wiener Schnitzel. Go to the midwest; its regional cuisine is heavily German influenced. Bratwurst is practically mandatory. Sauerbraten and spaetzle are common - either under their own names, or under "Americanized" names that hide their German origin (thanks to WWI and WWII). More generally in the USA such things as hot dogs and hamburgers are German derived. We put things like sauerkraut on our hot dogs. Even in New England where I live and where the German influence is minimal, you can get sauerkraut in any supermarket. Our traditions in pies is also more German (via the Pennsylvania Dutch in part) than English. Und so weiter.

Anonymous said...

And that doesn't take into account the fact that a lot of those who claim to be of German ancestry probably have a lot of ancestors of nondescript British heritage.

Sometimes you don't know if your Smith is of English, Scottish, Irish, or German origins.

Anonymous said...

You need to get to know the USA better.

That could be fair. I did say characteristically German foods were about as regional curiosities mind, which most of those cites you have given seem to be. They're not really what you export worldwide, or what is iconic to you, or the mainstay of your national cuisine (such as there is one), which is the Fried Chicken and the pizza and the barbecue pulled pork, (and yes the hamburgers, but that's really a German piece of meat and roll but doesn't have much German about it aside). Maybe it's just that most "real" American food (not fast food) is regional.

"Chicken Fried Steak" which is just a Southern interpretation of Wiener Schnitzel ... Bratwurst is practically mandatory.

Yeah, you guys love some of the German meat recipes and their breads. Hot dogs and hamburgers. It's particularly the sour lactic acid-y flavors that characterize German food in my mind (and Central and East European food generally) that have marginal
influence. American food is very sweet.

Even in New England where I live and where the German influence is minimal, you can get sauerkraut in any supermarket.

Of course! Polish and Polish Jews are very prominent there. This seems kind of true of German food all over the US - the traditions with meat and bread probably appealed a lot more to the similar Dutch, Polish and Ashkenazi Jewish migrants more than to the British-French palette.

countenance said...

Half of all white Americans are at least one-quarter German.

A certain snarky blogmeister I know from the other side of the mirror is more German than everything else.

SRBEL said...

Ben Blatt at Slate showing how German the USA is:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/05/language_map_what_s_the_most_popular_language_in_your_state.html

Pretty interesting stuff.