Tag Archives: german food

Superstition: Die Schlusskartoffel

Main Piece: 

“Here’s another quirky story and I don’t know where it came from. I knew this really old man near the Czech Republic. And I would have dinner with this person periodically and, of course, the food is really heavy, so you’ve got pork, and boiled potatoes, and things like that. And after the entire meal, he would always eat one last potato. And he called that his Schlusskartoffel. Which, translated- which in German meant ‘ending potato.’ And apparently- in his family, clan, or whatever you want to call it -they did that because that last potato signaled to your digestive system that you were done eating. ”


My informant grew up in America before departing to Germany for several years. This happened relatively soon after college, so he was a newcomer to European culture. Clearly, this wasn’t a well-proliferated superstition, but rather something my informant heard repeatedly from one source. Reportedly, this source had a broader clan that had taught them the practice. My informant interpreted it as some kind of compulsory ceremonial “cap-off” to the meal.


What’s interesting about this example is that it’s so specific to Germanic foods. Heavy meals full of pork, sausages, and potatoes give rise to a need to finish ceremonially, as the meals are a greater effort and have a more profound effect than just some bread and vegetables. It’s possible that this was developed as a technique to control eating when the possibility of weight gain was so high. Another possibility is that it’s meant to celebrate the completion of a meal and the hardiness of the meal itself by marking the occasion with a specially named potato.