Monday, February 26, 2007


So if you come to Austria or parts of southern Germany get ready to hear 'Mahlzeit' a lot. Literally it just means 'meal time,' but in here it is used to mean bon appetite ('guten Appetit' in Germany, tangentially, I've had to convince Germans on numerous occasions that you can't wish people 'good appetite' in English). Fair enough really, it sounds nice and is certainly courteous...except that in Austria it has gotten a little out of hand. Provided it is considered to be around lunchtime people will stop whatever they are doing and say 'Mahlzeit,' whether or not food is present, whether or not there is the intention of eating, whether or not you have a phobia of food and god help you if you don't respond with the same. Oh Mahlzeit is on. All of which is a bit funny because it is several hours each day of people basically saying "Mealtime! Yes, Mealtime. Mealtime? Yes Mealtime. Mealtime!" Usually I am just thinking, 'Yes, we established that already, yes, yes we did, yes I will wish you Mahlzeit too so you don't hate me server person even though you will just be watching me eat the whole time. " In anycase after a while you just accept it and stop question it.

Well today I heard the best Mahlzeit joke ever in my improv class here (been three times, it is great!). Basically it was a scene with a prison guard taking a prisoner to his last meal. Very dramatically she said 'Die letzte Mahlzeit' [the last meal] and then in the same tone wished him "Mahlzeit." It greatly amused me, and I am pretty sure I wasn't the only person laughing. Maybe.

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