This got me thinking about the politicians and dignitaries who’ll be jetting between Pennsylvania and Hessen, and, naturally, I have some advice for them! Here’s a quick list of Dos and Don’ts for Philadelphians traveling to the Metropolis on the Main:
DO give a thought to table manners! DON’T begin eating until everyone has been served and the host has wished you a guten Appetit. If you’re served alcohol, DON’T take the first sip until your host raises his/her glass for a toast. When toasting and before taking that first sip, DO be sure to look each of your companions in the eye.
DON’T try to hail a cab. Many Frankfurters like to compare their city to New York, but any similarity ends at the curb. Look for a designated taxi stand (German: Taxistand).
DO go to an authentic, traditional Ebbelwoi-Kneipe. I’m the first to admit that Ebbelwoi (apple wine – essentially, hard cider) is an acquired taste, but the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere in the old Ebbelwoi taverns is immediately appealing and 100% Frankfurt.
DON’T assume everyone who speaks English well is somehow “Americanized” and shares your culture. And please, DON’T pepper your speech with sports analogies. Expressions like “knock it out of the park”, “full court press” and “hail Mary pass” don’t travel well. If you want to excel at small talk with Germans, DO learn a little about soccer and cars.
DO take the time to learn about some of the cool things that Frankfurt and Philly have in common. Politically, both cities play second-fiddle to their countries’ respective capitals. However, just as Americans regard Philadelphia as the Cradle of Liberty or Birthplace of the Nation, Germans associate Frankfurt with the first freely-elected German parliament, which met here in 1848 to hammer out a modern constitution for a unified German state. Unlike the American Revolution, the German Revolution of 1848 ultimately failed, resulting in a wave of emigration to – you guessed it! – America.
While we’re on the subject of common features, DON’T bother mentioning Philly soft pretzels. Trust me, they’re a very poor imitation of the real thing.