This post is a little less personal than the last but no less important, as it is a subject close to my heart.
Why is it so hard to find proper vinegar in Berlin?!
I’m not talking that balsamic stuff that is only good for salads and dipping bread in. I don’t want your pickling vinegar, Germany! Isn’t it bad enough you try to pickle every vegetable in sight? No, I mean the acidic, possibly ascorbic brown liquid that transforms the humble chip into a thing of beauty. That elevates the fish finger sandwich to godliness. That stings your nose and burns your throat. I’ve trawled the supermarkets for months, but to quote Bono, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
But it’s not just vinegar. I’ve compiled a list of my most-missed foods from home that have had me hankering for the likes of Asda and Tesco.
On the subject of condiments, why is it I’m able to find five different types of Heinz’s tomato ketchup, but no HP Sauce? The only place I have seen it was KaDeWe (the Berlin equivalent of Harrods) and whilst I love HP Sauce, there is no way I can justify a fiver on 200 millilitres. I’ve seen the other HP sauces, the ones we don’t talk about- the ‘BBQ’ and ‘Fruity’ bastard cousins, so it’s not a case of Germany not realising what they’re missing out on. I’m beginning to suspect they’re mocking me.
For a country that loves its alcohol, Germany really doesn’t do cider. It’s considered a miracle when you find a place that serves it, which means you’ll inevitably be paying four euros for the pleasure. It was 5.50 for a pint of Magners in one restaurant I went to. The other rare chances for appley goodness come in the form of the French cidre that is sometimes on offer (which is an entirely different beast to good ol’ cider) or ‘OBC’ which is Original Berliner Cider- not unpleasant stuff, but it’s expensive. And it’s no Rekordlig.
Want cheddar cheese? Forget about it. Unless you’re willing to pay four euros for 200 grams of Cathedral City…which I have done a number of times, leading me to feel like some sort of cheddar junkie who will pay any price to get a fix.
I tried to eat some McCain’s Potato Croquettes here. They were absolutely foul. I miss the potato waffle more than I ever thought possible. It’s true what Joni Mitchell said. You don’t know what you got til it’s gone.
As a vegetarian of seven years (before my reversion back to omnivore at the beginning of 2014) I love quorn. I think quorn is a miraculous invention. Germany, on the other hand…doesn’t really ‘get’ vegetarian food. There are sometimes sad looking faux-sausages or meatballs in the fridges of supermarkets, but they’re never as appetizing as Quorn. Or Linda McCartney’s frozen foods for that matter. Instead everyone eats tofu, which when prepared right is great, but when it goes wrong (which happens a lot) it’s like eating a damp sponge.
Cadbury’s Creme Eggs
Enough said. It’s not Easter without them.
I know, I know- you move to a foreign country, you have to embrace its unique culture and charm, including the cuisine. The problem is, and I hate to admit it…German food isn’t all that appealing. It’s hard to find it in Berlin for a start, and even when you go to a German restaurant, the only things they can really offer you are unappetizing-looking sausages or slabs of breaded meat the size of your face (the famous schnitzel) with fried potatoes of some sort and sauerkraut on the side. So half-hearted their attempts are at keeping German cuisine alive, I had baked camembert in one restaurant. To be fair, it was delicious. But that’s not the point. Of course I can’t tar all of Germany with the same brush and I’m sure in other regions there are delicious delicacies to be sampled, but in Berlin it’s just not happening. Luckily the wealth of other cuisines available mean it’s hard to really dwell on the subject; it’s almost impossible to go hungry in Berlin.