When the FIFA World Cup Draw placed Mexico in the latest Group of Death – one that includes an opening date against reigning champion Germany – the gasp from El Tri fans was heard around the world. Sure, landing in this position isn’t necessarily an automatic death sentence – but they don’t call Mexico’s Round of 16 history a curse for nothing.
We won’t know the outcome of this highly anticipated match for another 6 months. So we figured we’d start stoking the fires of friendly competition now, by pitting Mexico against Germany in some other very important categories, like music, food, and public transportation.
We’ve teamed up with cerveza Estrella Jalisco – the official beer sponsor of the Mexican National Team – for this extremely scientific, totally impartial run down. May the best country win!
Polka vs. Norteño
Did you ever notice that some norteño music has a similar “oom-pah-pah” rhythm as the German polka? That’s no coincidence: after a large wave of Germans settlers arrived in Texas in the early 19th century, their musical influences and instruments (including the accordion) became very popular with northern Mexican communities.
But while Mexicans may not have wholly invented the key ingredients for the norteño sound, they had the ingenuity to spin these foundations into several thriving genres, including tejano and banda. You probably won’t find a lot of young Germans today rocking out to polka, but headliners Los Tigres del Norte just packed Tropicalia festival with young Mexas, and the genres are going strong. You do the math.
Schnitzel vs. Milanesa
Let’s start by acknowledging that anything breaded and fried is going to taste amazing, so there are no real losers in this category. With that said, Germans take their schnitzel pretty seriously; the dish has been popular in the region since the Middle Ages, and while it may be Austria’s national dish, Germans also consider it a classic of their cuisine. By contrast, Mexican milanesa is mainly something you’ll see in a torta – and while it’s a popular filling, there are so many torta variants, you can probably get by without it.
Achievements of Ancient Civilizations
By 300 A.D., the Maya people had already begun developing two intricate – and extremely accurate – calendar systems, a sophisticated understanding of astronomy and agriculture, and architecturally stunning cities (all without the help of modern machinery). The Ancient Germanic peoples, by contrast, were still largely migratory, and had not yet developed any significant agricultural, architectural or economic pursuits. Sure, they would soon invade the Roman Empire and change the course of European history, but we’ve got to give this one to the people who created a calendar capable of predicting solar eclipses thousands of years in advance.
For most of us, a public transportation system that actually runs on time sounds like something out of a fantasy. But not for the punctual Germans, who are notorious for their timeliness and efficiency. Compared to Mexicans, for whom the term “ahorita” can mean anything from “in an hour” to “ maybe within five years”, the Germans are definitely winning. Does that mean they miss out on some of the spontaneity that comes with a more flexible approach to time? Sure. But when you’re standing on the metro platform about to lose your mind because the train is late yet again, that German punctuality sure looks appealing.
Sense of Humor
Mark Twain is once said to have observed, “A German joke is no laughing matter.” It’s a well-known stereotype that Germans can be a humorless bunch – but it’s one that has also been backed up by global surveys, including a 2011 poll by Badoo, in which 30,000 people across 15 countries ranked Germany the least funny nationality of all. (By contrast, Mexico came in as the 6th funniest country in the world.) That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of hilarious Germans out there, but did the Germans have a Cantinflas? I think not. The Mexican comedy tradition is vast, long-lived, and highly influential in and out of its borders, and for that, they win this round.
And the Winner is:
Congrats! You may have your work cut out for you in the Round of 16, but you’re already winners in our book.