Life und kartoffeln – lessons learned in Germany

Oh, hai! My slightly extended period of absence can be put down to chiefly two things: a) trying to sort my career out and b) spending quite a bit of time in Germany as a result of said career that needs to be sorted out. And there were the Olympics, which all seem like a lifetime ago now.

To the point of German food. It’s almost too easy to make fun of  – it feels like poking fun at Amy Childs or slapping a sleeping person. But, when you come across things like this, the feeling of vindication is just a bit too much:

Perhaps I’ve just missed some deeper meaning, but this is to all intents and purposes a tiny blob of mayonnaise on some Swiss cheese, with a TINY, TINY pretzel.

Let’s break it down into ten nuggets of ‘things I have learned about German food’:

  1. Berlin is like London in that the home cuisine for the most part ain’t much to write home about, but high levels of immigration mean for a great selection of world food.
  2. German chefs are not short on ambition – although occasionally misguided. Things I’ve been served recently include penne arrabiatta with a chicken kebab on top, a shot glass of pumpkin soup as a palate cleanser and ‘hot sauce’ (salsa in a jar) with lamb chops.
  3. Berliners love Vietnamese food and this can only be a good thing – something good came out of the DDR after all
  4. Cold cuts for breakfast. Everywhere. Well, could be worse – I’ve seen Russians eat cold meat for breakfast slightly mixed with strawberry yoghurt
  5. Naan pizza is amazing as discovered at W Imbiss in Berlin – fresh naan, slathered with curried aubergine and salady bits on top. Legendary.
  6. Currywurst is actually alright, but in that kind of way that a greasy Chinese takeaway at 3am is alright
  7. Germans worship at the altar of the snack with ‘imbiss’ stands on every corner, it would be rude not to eat something deep-fried every hour
  8. Don’t eat Korean food in Cologne unless you enjoy bibimbap where the hot stone bowl is room temperature
  9. But the Berlin kebab is stellar (see below)
  10. Yep, the coffee’s still pretty bad 

When in Berlin:

  • Head to W Imbiss in Prenzlauer Berg for naan pizza
  • If in Kreuzberg, scoff a kebab at one of Hasir’s outlets
  • Get in some incredible falafel at Mo’s – patience may be required
  • Tear up the Nando’s card at Huhnerhaus outside the park in Kreuzberg
  • Ask Monsieur Vuong about the old photos – but beware the queues

When in Cologne:

  • Eat at Ouzeria and order the rabbit stifado – stunning
  • Get more upmarket teppanyaki at Daitokai
  • Avoid Columbus (near Heumarkt) at all costs.

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