Can I Get A Box?

Can I Get A Box?

One of the first cultural lessons I learned in my travels is to never ask for a box. At first it wasn't about banned styrofoam, bags and single use plastics. It was the fact that the idea of the doggy bag hadn't quite crossed the Atlantic or made it to the mainland as there is speculation about where the term originated. It was simply in poor taste to dine out and not finish ones meal. I mean how could you not bring an appropriate appetite to a punch bowl of bolognese or a massive filet hidden in a mound of pommes frites. Outside of the fat shaming, Americans eat like pigs trope there simply wasn't a container to put anything in. In the early 2000s if you were to ask for a box of any kind in Europe it would throw a wrench in the line. Your poor server would scramble through the kitchen looking for a dish to spare and surprise you with yesterday's crème fraîche container. And trust at 4am looking out onto the Périphérique I ate every single bite of pasta out of that container which was probably resurrected from the trash. However, now I am in a country that can't seem to decide what is or isn't eco friendly, the portions are absolutely insane and I am never hungry in real time for anything placed in front me. A box is my only way to discreetly get out of eating a schnitzel bigger than my torso. And I always see the boxes lined up ready to be filled but I can count on one finger the times I asked and a German actually gave me one. 

Now surely I have dined at all sorts of restaurants while in Deutschland. And there have been a number of places that have not only given me a box but offered to plate my leftovers for me. But in all of these cases I was at whatever Spezialitäten spot where someone obviously not from here was enthusiastically obliged. And I mean why wouldn't you be? If you pulled out all the stops and offered a sturdy logo'd bag I might just give you some free advertising. However, at every currywurst strand, brewhaus (other than the one time at Früh am Dom) and mom & pop spot I have not only been denied a box but jeered at as if I was so stupid to have asked. I am not alone in this as I have noticed anyone who asks for a box is treated like scum of the Earth. I have seen table side lessons about eating all of ones food or unsolicited teaching opportunities on why foil is a better matter for such things. The evil doer arguing with their own customer all the while looking at a tower of boxes or other various packaging. I have watched in horror one day as a server took a mans pizza and plopped it upside down on a sheet of foil and then began folding the remaining slices upon each other like an accordion. It was a pizzeria and they had pizza appropriate boxes as far as the damn eye could see. 

I once developed a strategy of asking and pointing thinking there was a translation issue or maybe I didn't ask in the grammatical, well mannered way Germans prefer. No. The first time I attempted this I was laughed at and the womans voice was backed by a lifetime of wurst cutting, cigarette smoking and bearing of many, many now grown children type pain. It was a guttural laugh that scared my husband and I to the point we talk about it two years later. The woman was running a currywurst stand and she was literally guarding a moat of fucking styrofoam boxes. My husband consoled me by saying they were probably for deliveries. It was a stand. That bitch wasn't delivering anything and it in the middle of a shopping district where most people eat auf die Hand. Was it deko? Was I seeing things? Or was it some sort of trolling that was misunderstood like everything else of the German persuasion? She wrapped my plate of fries in a sheet of foil and honestly they are still the best cold fries I have ever had. 

What irks me is when I go to get a döner which I don't because I don't eat them. But I watch those men slide that foil down the salad bar line after they have wasted two other sheets warming the bread, slicing the meat and then they wrap it several more times in paper, foil and then gladly place it in a spit retrieved plastic bag. How is it that this is acceptable but a box from a reputable establishment isn't? There are recyclable forms of styrofoam as well as ecological solutions like palm, bamboo, parchment, carboard etc. There are also girls spraying carcinogens onto brightly colored tissue paper and stuffing them into tiny bags all over the EU. If I order too much food with my eyes than my tummy can take I want a fantastic representation of that as I am leaving. I want jzeush and clam shells too. I want all remaining two ounces of wine re-corked and a raspberry drizzle under my to-go slice of cheesecake. I want all those lil sauces in their own individual containers and a set of utensils to add to my junk drawer. And sadly we don't even have one here because condiments are so scarce. I had to buy Chinese mustard in a damn tube because in almost three years I have never seen a single pack! 

Gone are the days of having a huge paper bag from a Darden restaurant choc full of clear plastic noisy lil noshies. Ugh and don't even remind me of the filling of my to-go cup with a fresh and kostenlos refill. Now I must nearly poison myself as we cannot stand to leave a single drip of 6€ bottled water especially the ones we have been duped into buying as there is no tap or there aren't ,5L bottles available. But for fucks sake all I want is a box for those days where I am literally exuding kölsch from my pores and the Schweinebraten medallions come after after I have had five lil glasses of liquid gold! Yes save the plastic trees but I am paying money and I want its worth! But of course in my whimpering American in Germany accent I must appear like Violet Beauregarde in every single establishment to Germans. Egal!

If you know the secret handshake I have to give to get a box in this country let me know.