Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ordering Tap Water in Germany - Leitungswasser

One little glass. So much controversy.
One complaint that I heard a lot before I even got here (and a lot more once we arrived) is how no restaurant serves tap water. Even with the tap water being perfectly potable, it is not common here for the customer to be served a free glass of water. On the contrary, most restaurants offer a wide variety of bottled waters, both still and sparkling, and they'd simply prefer you pay for that.

But I'm stubborn. My kids don't care a thing about bottled water. And I certainly don't feel like spending 2-3 extra Euros x 2 every time we go out (many times the water will cost more than the beer), when they'd be perfectly happy with a glass of tap water, which is perfectly healthy for them. One solution, of course, is to bring your own water bottles and I do that often. But sometimes I forget and sometimes it's too much of a hassle.

So I figured, shoot, I know the word for tap water. I'm going to start ordering it. And I'm happy to report, I've had quite a bit of success, without being rude or pushy!!!

I just say, "Zwei Gläser Leitungswasser für die Kinder, bitte." (Two glasses of tap water for the children, please.) Several times, I've had no problem with this and they don't even question it, bringing out the glasses with the other drinks. Most of the time though, I'll admit, the response has been, "Leitungswasser?" or "Leitungswasser? Sind Sie sicher?" or "Leitungswasser? Wirklich?" (Tap water? Are you sure? Really?) I just stick to my guns and say "Ja, bitte." (Yes, please.)  Keep in mind that this water is not going to be particularly cold, nor served with ice, but it's clean, cool, good water! (The water in Germany, at least here in Frankfurt, is known as "hard" water, which means it has a high mineral content, such as calcium and magnesium. The WHO has published research indicating that this does not have harmful effects when consumed and the NRC states it might actually be beneficial, but you will have to make the decision for your own family, of course.)

Only once did I have a waiter say to me, "Aber wir haben verschiedene Sorten von Wasser in Flaschen." (But we have several varieties of water in bottles.") To this, I just responded that the kids prefer to drink tap water. (Aber sie trinken lieber Leitungswasser.) and that seemed to satisfy him so he got us our ***FREE*** tap water!!!

Don't be intimidated by them...you don't have to speak German or even understand too much to get what you want. Just ask for Leitungswasser and if they question, just keep saying, "Ja, bitte," and I predict you'll get exactly what you want, like I did.

Viel Glück!

Side note--Please note that "Leitungswasser" literally translates to "pipe" or "plumbing" water in German, which could explain the German's less than favorable view of it. I've also been told that, for this reason, most Germans do not offer "pipe/plumbing water" to their guests as this might be viewed as an offense. Some people even think it's rude to order it at a restaurant because of the German's view of it. But if you're not rude when you ask for it, how could you be being rude? Also, you'll probably find amongst German families and even German restaurants, much like in the United States, that water opinions and preferences actually vary quite a lot.