Picky Eating and a Language Barrier

Upon arriving in Graz, I was beyond hungry. Fifteen hours of hunger mixed with airplane “food” left me in dire need of an appetizing meal. After settling in at my flat, I decided to go on a search for the nearest food source. I walked around town and through a cemetery, stumbling into the parking lot of none other than McDonald’s. This is not exactly what I would consider a fancy Austrian meal, but it was something familiar and satisfying. Nothing like a nine-piece Chicken McNuggets and a side of fries to start off the European experience.

Puntigamer is the most popular beer in Graz.

Flash forward to my second night in Graz. I found myself at a popular pub, Continuum, with some newly-made friends, one of whom recommended trying the pub’s pizza. As a pizza fanatic, I couldn’t turn down this suggestion, but the picky eater inside of me was rather nervous, as I only eat two types of pizza: pepperoni or cheese.


The first challenge of being a picky eater, or rather, drinker, is that I don’t drink alcoholic beverages. Going to a pub was the first battle of my pickiness. I began looking at the list of drinks and searching for those fine, fine words of “Coca-Cola,” which were impossible to find. Alas, I turned to the waitress and asked if the pub served any soda. She responded positively. I proceeded to ask what types of soda was available, to which the waitress responded by asking if I wanted still or sparkling soda. Didn’t all soda have carbonization, thus making it sparkling? Feeling confused, I began listing off various soda brands, hoping she would better understand my question. “Oh, you mean soft drinks!” the waitress said. “Here, soda is what we call water.” She then listed off the soft drink options and I happily ordered my Fanta, noting the first language translation difference.

group photo
Enjoying pizza and beverages with my new friends!

Battle number two: To order a meal at the pub, customers fill out a slip of paper, checking off the ingredients that they would like on their pizza. Going through the list of ingredients while not knowing a word of German was beyond miserable. We ended up using Google Translate a godsend to figure out what all of the ingredients options were. Pfefferoni, which sounds like pepperoni, seemed to be the logical ingredient for what I was looking based on the theory of cognates. According to the translator, Pfefferoni was not a valid word. After asking the waitress if “Pfefferoni” was indeed the meat I was wanting and getting a verified “ja,” I ordered my Pfefferoni pizza.

Pedros newPizza with peppers
My friend Pedro’s pizza with my peppers.

A short time later, the pizza appeared in front of me, and to my disgust it was not covered in pepperoni like I was guaranteed. Rather, it was covered in chili peppers. The waitress asked if that was correct and I said no as the five of us tried to explain what I truly meant by pepperoni. The waitress and I shared embarrassed smiles as we struggled communicating due to the language barrier. She apologized and I peeled off the peppers, placing them on a friend’s pizza, chuckling at the miscommunication.

Needless to say, I now know a new word in German: Pfefferoni. And Pfefferoni shall never appear on my pizza again.

Until the next pizza,



    • Yeah, how HARD that must have been to have to peel peppers off her pizza and have to learn that soda is actually a soft drink.
      Get over it and try something new!

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