Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Berlin: First Impressions

I have officially begun my 11 week stay in Berlin.  Discovering the area where I am living, Prenzlauer Berg, is fun, and every day brings something new.  For example, after I finished class today, I noticed that there is a cafe of sorts right next to the language school. This in itself is nothing special except that the board on the sidewalk mentioned vegan cake and options (!). Can't you tell that it doesn't take much for me to be excited? I am used to having to explain to everyone what veganism is, so seeing random things such as that sign make me smile. I will probably eat there later this week since I had other plans for today's lunch.

I was lucky to read about Hans Wurst Vegan Cafe on The Urban Houswife.  Lucky for me, it is on my way back home from the language school.  It was rather quiet when I went, but it is a cute little place. I loved the atmosphere despite the lack of people.  Since it was a rather dreary day and I wasn't terribly hungry, I just got the creamy pumpkin soup and a chocolate milkshake.  The soup was very tasty (as well as orangey), and I didn't feel as if I was getting a serving or two of veggies, not to mention beta-carotene, even though I obviously was. As for the milkshake, it ended up being a little different than I expected. It was basically soy milk that had been put through a blender with chocolate pieces and not the aforementioned along with ice cream, like I expected. Needless to say, it was still tasty, but I could probably just as easily make it on my own but cheaper. Given the location and free wireless, I am probably going to frequent this cafe rather often and even try to visit later this week when there will be live entertainment. Plus, I'll remember to bring my camera.

I had another interesting foray today, that of cooking in my host mother's apartment.  I provide my own meals, so naturally I've been given spots in the fridge and cupboard to store groceries. Being the cheapskate that I am, I will be trying to buy the bare minimum for both taste and nutrition.  Obviously, I'll be commenting on my subsequent successes and failures. So far, I haven't even bought any sort of oil with which to cook.  This did not seem to matter when I made a severely simplified version of Isa's amazing dahl as posted on the ppk.  I cute down the original so much that I only used garlic, cumin, coriander, tomato paste, a bullion cube, red lentils, tomatoes, and, of course, water.  All in all, the pared down version was rather tasty in its own right.  But the actual recipe was not today's second adventure.

I had to use a gas stove.  Okay, no big deal, right? Wrong.  I have been lucky enough that I have never had to work on a stove with an open flame, or, if I ever did, I do not recall doing so.  Since my host mum was not at home and my stomach was growling something fierce, I had to figure it out all on my own.  It took me four tries.  The first time, I was just figuring out how to actually light the darn thing by pressing the knob in. The second, trying to press in and then turn the knob. Becoming frustrated, I tried to ask a friend for advice. Press in and turn to medium, I was told. Failure yet again. I guess there is a trick to it, as I realized on the fourth try. You have to press in, light the match, turn the knob gently, and release it slowly. Success! The only other interesting aspect of dinner was that I pretty much free-handed the amounts of the ingredients. (Excluding using a drinking glass to measure the lentil and rice amounts so that I could get the correct water ratios.)

Coming Soon: A visit to Maja's Deli, which is supposedly in this area as well. I'll also be going to the Kreuzberg area to check out the vegan grocery store, Veni Vidi Vegi and a restaurant or two. (Yes, the grocery gets extra awesome points for being a play on a Latin phrase. Why, you ask? Because I was a former Latin nerd in High School before I discovered my love of German.)

Thanks for (hopefully) sticking with me as I jump back into this blog thing.


marychellary said...

Hey Meagan! I enjoyed your blog! Write more about your host mom and your apartment and stuff! I will try to keep checking back as much as I can while I'm in Mexico!

marychellary said...

PS that was me hillary!

Mandee said...

Congrats on the new blog and I hope you enjoy your stay in Germany.

Kitteh (ppk'er) xox

rachelj said...

Hallo. I love the idea of a blog. I enjoyed how the topic of this blog was mainly on the food you ate and how you made it. I especially laughed when I learned that you never used a gas stove before. Enjoy your exploration in Berlin!