[Historical Fiction Prompt] Write about Food from the German Democratic Republic

2016. The German Democratic Republic is long gone – in 1990, the Eastern socialist part of the country re-united with Western Germany. At the same time, most of the food that was produced in the German Democratic Republic suddenly disappeared. Tens of thousands of GDR citizens left the country; factories and farms large and small closed down. Or they were bought by investors, transformed or shut down after a while.

In addition to that, people in the eastern part of Germany were very eager to buy new products from the western part, which they hadn’t been able to get their hands on for decades! Because of that, after 1990, almost every food-producing factory or enterprise disappeared within a few years.

Many, many childhood memories are connected to food – and those special foods cannot be bought anymore. 

[Historical Fiction Prompt]

Imagine that a woman who grew up in the Eastern part of Germany suddenly gets access to an old house. It has been left abandonned for over 25 years. When she enters it, she finds a fully stocked kitchen including a storage cupboard with dry goods and many products from the German Democratic Republic! Some of it is spoilt, sure, but a few things – like dry powder for baking, custard powder or preserved, canned fruits and jams – are in perfect condition.

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Food memories German Democratic Republic Himbeer Dessertpulver [Historical Fiction Prompt] Historical Fiction Prompt for Authors and Novelists: Historical Fiction Prompt: Write about Food in the GDR DDR Eastern Germany Food, Daily Life in the GDR
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Imagine how the woman stands in the food cupboard – suddenly surrounded by childhood memories.

Narrate how she takes her custard powder package, opens it and smells the powder. All of a sudden, childhood memories flood back to her! Within an instant, she is mentally transported back to her childhood. 

Especially let her take: raspberry powder to prepare a dessert. It’s prepared to be eaten cold, on a hot summer day. You needed to cool it in the fridge. It basically consisted of gelatine (well, A LOT of gelatine!!!). And it provided an EXTREMELY artificial rasperry flavour! At the same time, it tasted SO GOOD. Full of freshness and sweetness. The typical taste of a lazy summer day during the holidays. A day when it’s so hot, when turning on the stove would be absolutely ridiculous. A day when a fast, cold dessert dish is just the right thing to eat for lunch.


If you want, let your protagonist discover and open other typical GDR spices. Here are a few suggestions.

* ZITRONKA, an artificial flavour that smells like citrus fruit. 

* The woman could open a package of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) spices, and remember her childhood Christmas celebrations with the extended family.

* She also finds the typical, small paper bags from “SPICES FROM GERA” (Gera is a town in Thüringen), along with the little stamps saying much each spice bag cost. They were ridiculously cheap, the equivalent of maybe 5p today (only 5 Pfennig to 10 Pfennig – not more).


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Let your protagonist browse the shelves. 

Connect the food memories with special events from her childhood that are worth remembering. 

More prompts like this one?


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