Jennifer Rose is a JWU Providence freshman writing her blog live from Berlin, Germany. This self-proclaimed foodie may be majoring in tourism & hospitality management, but she's got quite an eye for culinary!
Grüße aus Berlin! (Greetings from Berlin!)
I have been here for over four weeks now and I absolutely love it so far. Berlin has so much to do, almost too much to do. It’s an astounding city with regards to its size, activities, and even food. Because Berlin is such an overwhelming city, I am only going to focus on the food scene in Berlin. Yes, you may find it hard to believe that there is a food scene in Berlin. Germany does not possess a stellar reputation for food like France or Italy but it doesn’t mean that there is nothing special or delicious about the Berlin’s food scene.
Quite the contrary, the food scene in Berlin is surprisingly spectacular. I may not be a culinary major (I am a travel-tourism marketing major) but one of my favorite aspects of traveling is trying different foods, especially local food and Berlin has exceeded my expectations. Berlin has a large immigrant population and its restaurant scene is reflective of that fact. It’s actually harder to find German restaurants than Middle Eastern, Asian or Hispanic restaurants. That was okay with me, since I’ve enjoyed cuisines from different cultures ever since I was a little kid.
One of the greatest things about studying abroad is being surprised by the place that you are studying in. Also, prior to coming here, I expected it to be much harder to be gluten and dairy free but it was much easier than I expected. It’s just a matter of finding the right places and ordering the right food.
Since coming to Berlin, I’ve tried several ethnic cuisines that I’ve never had before. Before arriving, I’d never eaten Turkish or Vietnamese food before traveling to Berlin. Here, there seems to be a Turkish restaurant or doner kebab stand on almost every street. The popularity and accessibility of Turkish food in Berlin is equivalent to that of Mexican or Chinese food in the United States. A great tip for those who are gluten/dairy free like me and are studying abroad in Berlin is to eat Turkish food. With the exception of the doner kehab and some of the hummus that has yogurt in it, most Turkish food is naturally gluten and dairy free, and because Turkish food is so common throughout Berlin. You should have no problem finding it.
My most memorable Turkish meal was at a tourism conference that I attended a couple of weeks ago. They served the food on what looked like plates made out of bamboo. I had a lamb kebab with cut-up veggies, a delicious small salad, and colorful radishes that ranged in color from green to pink. I never saw a pink radish before nor did I even know that it existed. The radish was absolutely delicious, as was the eggplant dip, olives, yellow and brown rice, and tomato dip that accompanied it. It was quite a hearty Turkish meal.
I also tried Vietnamese food for the first time at the Dong Xuan Center, a really interesting Asian market that I went to with my classmates and my RA. It is basically a bunch of converted warehouses with a lot of little shops owned by members of Berlin’s Asian community. They had everything from nail salons and clothing stores to Asian grocery stores and food eateries, all at really cheap prices. At the Vietnamese restaurant, I had a pho noodle bowl, which contained rice noodles, beef, cilantro, and onions. It was very tasty but it was so big that I couldn’t finish all of it.
It was interesting to go to the clothing stores because they had inexpensive Asian goods alongside high-quality clothing brands from Italy. I also saw some really unique pieces of art, like old records attached to pocketbooks.
I enjoyed a delicious Mexican meal at a local restaurant chain called Que Pasa. You might wonder: why I would try Mexican food when I could easily get it here in the US? It was interesting because I wanted to see what Mexican food was like in Germany and sure enough, the menu was very different from US Mexican restaurants. If you are curious to see how different the menu is from American Mexican restaurants, check out Que Pasa’s menu. I had mole verde: chicken fillets with green tomato sauce and pumpkin seeds, a small salad, and rice. I’ve never seen Mole Verde in American Mexican restaurants. It was, of course, delicious.
Having exposure to so many cuisines in Berlin (and it hasn’t stopped yet) has given me a true sense of the strong multi-culturalism that the city offers. It is truly a multi-cultural city with well-preserved cultural traditions, yet the foreigners blend in more than they do in the States from an American perspective. Berlin is truly a multicultural city. There are plenty of people from America that live and work here (including one of my professors), as well as people from other European countries such as Greece, Italy, and Turkey and Asian countries such as Pakistan and Vietnam.
Eating a bunch of ethnic food that isn’t normally available back in the States as opposed to eating a lot of German food was one of my biggest surprises coming here. I have yet to find a good German restaurant and will let you know when I do. The most German food that I have tried so far was currywurst, a local Berlin staple that is found all over the city. Currywurst is a cut-up hot dog covered in curry ketchup and fries and mayo. It was fantastic and I especially loved the curry ketchup.
Berlin is full of many surprises and the food scene is one of the best that I’ve experienced, even though it is not very well known compared to other cities. It is full of wonderfully tasty fresh food from all over the world, with a unique Berlin touch. As a foodie, Berlin is more than satisfying for a big appetite and discerning palate.
I can’t wait to explore even more cuisines in Berlin!
Jennifer is majoring in tourism & hospitality management at JWU Providence.