Saturday, July 11, 2009

Greenmarket, Prenzlauer Berg...turning into a local

...or maybe the title of this blog entry should be I Got Kissed By A Drunken Iranian (or someone claiming to be Iranian).

I don't know.  He looked kind of Iranian.  He was certainly drunk, and merrily amplifying that state with a tasty-looking mug of dark beer.  He'd been busy shaking Ken's hand when he asked if I was the wife, grabbed me by the shoulders, and planted a beery bus on each of my cheeks, muttering all the while in German about how pretty I was.  It was one of those travel moments that you'd really like to see on the Rick Steves shows they run nonstop on public TV at marathon time.   One asks oneself: What Would Rick Do?

"He said he was from Iran," said Ken.

"I see."  I said.  And we wandered on.  To quote the sound collage at the beginning of Random Madness:

What's the significance?  I DON'T KNOW.

It's been that kind of day.  We started out with currywurst (the definitive Berlin street food) at a historic imbiss (snack) stand under a U-Bahn stop about a mile from our flat.  The place has been dishing out the bratwurst drenched in mildly sweet, curry-flavored ketchup with a sprinkling of curry powder on top since 1901 or so, outlasting two world wars and the DDR besides.  I know what you're thinking if you haven't spent time in Berlin.  You are thinking this: why would anyone want to eat ketchup and curry powder?  And I don't have an easy answer to your question except to tell you that I sat right down at the stand's shared tables to chow down mightily upon the stuff--and so did a French speaking couple across from us, and an English-speaking Asian family next to us...AND one of the ubiquitous Prenzlauer berg babies was getting his first lessons in currywurst from his local-looking parents one table over.

Currywurst: it's not just for breakfast anymore.  And it's really kind of good.  NOT LIKE Berlinerweisse, which is another famed local specialty--wheat beer (OK so far) with a nice big slug of red or green kinda berry-flavored syrup in it (ew).  It's served in a goblet with a fat straw, and it tastes like soda pop.  So if it's hot outside, you'll suck it right down like Orange Crush (which it's not unlike) and then get up and fall over--or worse, decide to have another.  If you are in Berlin with someone who has been here before, chances are he will talk you into drinking one.  I'd say Berlinerweisse is a joke the locals play on the touristas, but I've seen folks who give every appearance and sound of being From Here on the other end of one of those wide straws.   

But back to the green market!  I did have a good drink there: something called an Erdbeerenbowle.  Berlin is strawberry-crazed just now, and intensely fragrant little local berries (erdberren) are everywhere in the city: in supermarkets, in green markets, and in odd little stands that sell nothing else and look like giant strawberries themselves.  The gentleman who served my drink to me ladled it out of a pretty glass punch bowl.  According to the sign next to his stand, it's made of French champagne, light white local wine, and chopped stawberries that have been allowed to steep in the mixture.  It's both beautiful and delicious.   We'll be having it high atop the Potter building soon.

We also stuck our nose into the Kulturbraurai, another GAGA-ish institution.  It's an old brewery repurposed as an entertainment center, with clubs and places to see film.  Seems a night-time kinda scene.  I took some snaps.  

Anyway, I have some peas to shell for our dinner, and a HUGE bag of local mushrooms to cook up with cream sauce, so I'm going to get hopping.  


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