Since I’m a writer for Spoon University, I am a sucker for anything creamy, sugary, buttery, and calorie-rich. Food is photogenic to the hilt and the photographers dream is a succulent meal that is both tasty and rich in color. German food is the perfect contender: wiener schnitzel, dark chocolate, Berliner Pilsner, salted pretzels—it’s a mess of flavor and low prices, the ultimate college combination.
My first amazing food experience was at the Ritter Sport shop and museum in Berlin. Dripping with warmth and cacao, this Französische Straße staple was an hour of ogling over brightly wrapped and inexpensive chocolate. A regular sized bar costs 1.05 euro—a bargain seeing as it’s heftier and more filling than a Chick-fil-A breakfast. Customers can create their own bars; a dash of cranberry or a smattering of crushed almonds and their milk chocolate becomes a personal delight. I stuck to their basic, “pure” flavor of Edelbitter, a blackened bar of 75% dark chocolate. The Museum upstairs wasn’t mind-blowing, although I enjoyed learning about the process of making chocolate. Who thought “Let me just roast and conch some beans from a oval capsule?” The downstairs of popping pink, blue, and lime green wrappers was the main attraction, saturated in color and a sweet tooth dream. The heat was stifling after an hour but being the stereotypical girl-in-a-candy-shop was happiness.
After the chocolatey innocence of the afternoon, seediness crept in through midnight and liters of beer. Liquid gold and better than bread, this exquisite creation is an art more wholesome than a Picasso or Dali could ever be. I didn’t like beer for the longest time; to be fair, Natty Light and Budlight were my only options. Sloggy and low class, they couldn’t compare to the craft beers my sister introduced to me in college. It wasn’t until Hoegaarden, Cottonhead, and Midnight Oil landed in my fridge that I appreciated the rich, grainy flavor. Germany is famous for its busty girls double fisting Pils, and this notion of delicious, cheap beer is true. I mostly stick to Berliner Pilsner, a light, hoppy beer that is usually 3-4 euros and easy to drink. Crisp and with hints of bitter and tang, it went perfectly with my schnitzel, asparagus soup, and German-style potato salad.
It’s fascinating observing the drinking customs of the Germans. 16 is the legal drinking age for beer and wine, so it wasn’t uncommon seeing a chubby faced teen ordering a half liter. These children grew up with beer, tasted it as babies, and don’t romanticize getting wild or hammered every night. Maybe if the US didn’t taboo drinking so much and educated its citizens, the misty-eyed fondness of alcohol poising in college would go away. The best beer I tried was a XX Bitter from a small pub called Herman. Hipster music blared, the walls were lined with bottles, and I was content. When I ordered the beer, the gnarly bartender gave me the strangest, taken-aback look. Really? You want that? The other girls before me ordered some fruity beer, so I guess he was surprised by my gritty palate. IT WAS FANTASTIC. The bitter melted into the hoppy which fizzed with the Belgium—it was the best 4.20 euro I’ve spent. Pure taste, the kind you don’t want to get drunk on, was in that little brown bottle.
Besides chocolate and beer, a smorgasbord of meals has pleased this widening stomach. Wiener Schnitzel with my father was a thin, breaded delight, the lemon on top adding tang to the savory. The lack of fat around the edges made my mouth feel clean (along with the customary sparkling water). The opposite of clean was the bratwursts I bought from sketchy men in Alexanderplatz. Dirt leaked under his nails—a scowl from his face—as he handed me a 1.50 euro brat in a barely-there napkin. The grime makes the meat taste better, right? Mocha ice cream, numerous Pick-Up bars, and tiramisu clogged my arteries, but my body can handle it. I keep saying I’m on vacation; I can eat whatever I want. However, when vacation spills into 27 days, the lumberjack eating becomes a normality, not a special treat. I rationalize the sugar high with the miles I’m walking/biking every day, but exercise isn’t fool proof against five pieces of bread, caprese salad, pizza, and squid.
Germany’s eclectic history and people is reflected in its foods—I’ve only had two authentic German meals in my 10 days here. My stomach is running on minimal fruits and high calories, but I couldn’t have enjoyed my time here more. The sore legs, dirty bratwursts, and döner kebabs with the questionable veggies make this experience even more adventurous.