Word of the Week: Schokoladenseite

Apr 5, 2013

Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plainly perplex native English speakers.


Elke Sommer, 2005 Enlarge image Elke Sommer onstage at the "Theater an der Kö" in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2005. (© dpa - Bildfunk) The Easter Bunny may have brought you some chocolate, but you wouldn't need that at all to show your "Schokoladenseite" (lit. "chocolate-side"): "sich von seiner Schokoladenseite zeigen" means "to show oneself at one's best", from the favorable and attractive side.  You know it from photographs: Maybe it is that quarter-profile look from the right that makes you look like a model or famous explorer, so you have learned to show this "Schokoladenseite" to the avid photographer.

When you are on vacation, the hotel wants to show its "Schokoladenseite" - beach, bar, balcony - and distract your attention from the loud highway on the other side.

It works in a figurative sense as well.  If your boss comes for dinner, you might want to make the best impression and ask the family to present themselves "von ihrer Schokoladenseite", nice, smooth, and agreeable.

There are many other composite nouns containing chocolate, like "Schokoladenpudding" (~pudding), "Schokoladenriegel" (~bar) or "Schokoladentorte" (~cake), showing how much Germans love their chocolate ... ever since 1673, when it was first sold publicly in Bremen.  It had reached European nobility before as a luxury food stimulant via the Spanish Court, hence the Spanish source for the word. The Spaniards, however, had acquired it from the Aztecs in the New World: They called the ritual drink of water, cocoa, vanilla and cayenne pepper "Xocóatl" (from "xocóc"=bitter and "atl"=water).  

Somewhat in this tradition, the famous "Schokoladenliebhaber" (~lover)  King Frederic the Great of Prussia added pepper and mustard to his chocolate.  If you try this concoction now, you might not show yourself from your "Schokoladenseite" ...

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