Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Field Trip - A Foodie's look at Europe

First - A previous guest blogger, Cleo Coyle is having a major giveaway for her new release, and I'm sharing her contest information. Check the contest tab. And don't forget to enter my swag contest. I've got books and goodies to give away.

If you've been visiting Terry's Place for a while, you might remember my brother's posts about his trip to New Orleans with the Culinary Corps. If not, you can find his first post here, and the second one here.

He recently went on a trip to Germany and France, and being a former chef, looked at things from a culinary perspective as well as that of a tourist. He's been kind enough not only to share pictures for my Friday Field Trip, but also to give commentary. Welcome back, Mark Carter.

The first picture is of a street band, The Rathaus Ramblers, that was performing at the weekly Turkish market in Berlin. It's a great outdoor market that stretches for a few blocks in the Kreuzberg. Berlin has the third largest Turkish population of any city. They were playing a mix of swing jazz, klezmer and ragtime. See them at I never could figure out if the banjo player's beard was real.

Berlin is a city filled with graffiti, certainly in the former East where we were staying. It doesn’t have the territorial component that is associated with what is found in the US. There, it is much more a personal expression that happens to be on a stretch of wall. It can be political or artistic, but I never saw examples where someone had painted over someone else's graffiti. This building was clearly a holdover from Soviet occupation. Others were much more lyrical, sometimes not much more than a well painted line running along the side of a building.

First day there, there was the requisite beer garden stop with German comfort food; fried potatoes and herring.

It was asparagus season and it was everywhere. The highlight for me was to have white asparagus fresh and from where it grows. I remember various French or German cooks and waiters getting misty-eyed at the mention of it, but any that are imported always tasted bitter and nothing to pay extra for. These, when eaten raw, are actually sweet.

Worth remembering that late spring is a good time to visit. There were several very large van/truck purveyors that must just make the rounds of the various markets. This one is the cured meat truck. I was tempted to hijack it, drive it out of town and just live in it for a month. Every kind of sausage, ham and aged meat imaginable (and several unimaginable)

There was also the fresh meat truck (pork esophagus anyone?) and the rotisserie chicken truck. Probably about a hundred chickens spinning on about five rows of spits. Juices flow from top row down over each successive row and are collected in a trough at the bottom. When you buy a chicken, it's put into a bag and the vendor ladles a goodly amount of the fatty ambrosia into it. I'm guessing that it requires a quick run home.

We shared a dinner table with a couple there on a teaching sabbatical. He pointed to his ample belly and told us he didn't have it when he got to Germany three months earlier. Oh what a potato can do.

Grumbling footnote from sister. Mark is blessed with a metabolism that lets him eat anything without adding an ounce to his tall, lean frame. Me, I'm short and grow wider if I even inhale food. My guess is that Mark wouldn't show an ample belly no matter how long he was there enjoying the food.


Unknown said...

I do remember the meat trucks from the markets in Germany. Horse was rather popular locally.. Never did see fresh white asparagus, tho!

Terry Odell said...

Sure looks better than the lunch wagons we get in the states!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

These pictures are fantastic! I'd love to drop by that German biergarten.

Mason Canyon said...

Great photos. Thanks for the trip. The white asparagus looked delicious, didn't know it was sweet.

Thoughts in Progress

Carol Kilgore said...

Great photos. I share your grumbles about tall, thin metabolisms.

Wynter said...

Love the pictures - I'd be in asparagus heaven. Meat wagon - not so much;-)

Terry Stonecrop said...

This was a double goodie for me. I love to read about foreign places and about food. Thanks! Great photos and fun post:)

Terry Odell said...

Thanks all for stopping by. Our son came up with the grandson this morning, so I haven't been around.

Mom said...

Loved the photos and the commentary Mark.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mom -- and I see you figured out how to leave a comment.