March 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
Sitting on the S-Bahn platform at Friedrichstraße, watching people spill out of the doors, and then a new set of people shove in. The last straggler running up the stairs to catch the closing doors just in time. People on their way home from work grab a pastry at the kiosk, friends kiss hello and walk off, and I’m just sitting on a metal chair on the platform.
I always seem to have very bizarre experiences in Berlin and this trip has been full of random flashbacks, be it the chocolate castles I saw when I was sixteen or the sketchy night spent here last summer among the rail-side clubs by Oberbaumbrücke, with bottles smashing and voices screaming on the bridge. I must have seen that same bridge at least four times daily since arriving in Berlin on Friday.
As I’ve seen most of the main tourist attractions, we have mostly been bumming around East Berlin, having coffee, eating Korean dumplings and taking pictures of graffiti, which seems to adorn every inch of blank space. I’m eating Bulgarian fried eggs in yogurt-dill sauce on little slices of bread, with my hands, and falafel with chili sauce from the Turkish restaurant fronts. I am also eating Haribo gummies, speaking more French than German, and taking loads of pictures of art.
Well on my way to becoming Berliner hipster? We shall see.
March 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
The day after writing that what I really missed in life was lemon curd, I got a package from my mother with — you guessed it — a jar of bright lemon curd. It’s a little sweeter than the one I usually make, but it’s been getting me through the week before midterms, the little secret jar that comes out while I’m sitting in bed stressing at 11 p.m. It’s crazy that, even thousands of miles away, she read my mind. Lately, I’ve been feeling like jumping on a plane and heading home, someplace where a simple text message doesn’t have a dozen possible interpretations, a novel can actually be read in a quiet place with a cup of tea instead of being rushed through in a couple of hours, fish doesn’t have to be fried in breadcrumbs in order to be decent, and where I could actually sleep without lying awake for two hours trying to stop my mind from spinning.
What’s called for now is a country retreat. You know, one of those weekends spent in the woods or on the beach, in a little airy shack, where you cook simple meals and go to bed early. Maybe read a magazine, or the first chapter of a book. Run in the morning and take a walk in the evening. Given that a country retreat is not part of my reality right now (or anytime in the near future), I thought back to a time when it was. And it looked like this:
Raspberry jam crumb bars. Oats and brown sugar. Waffles in the morning drenched in Vermont maple syrup. Sunny orange juice. A brisk, blue sky light up by the sun. And lots of friends sitting around the table.
March 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It’s finally light again when we walk to dinner. I’ve contemplated not wearing a winter jacket for a couple of days in a row. The grassy expanse of the Battlefield stretches before me while I stretch, my run highlighted by low sunlight and a delicate breeze. The birds have started chirping again. At the risk of having spoken too soon, spring has finally arrived, calm in its early beginnings but bringing with it a cheerful liveliness, a feeling that, at last, the dregs of winter are over. I’ve started dreaming of beaches and salty oceans, of tearing crabs apart, fingers drenched in butter and feet still sandy, of dining on outside patios in the twilight, of citrus-specked drinks with straws.
Meanwhile, there’s still quite a bit of work ahead of me — and some cold, winter adventures as well. My summer activities have been limited to browsing recipe journals, dining slideshows, and travel articles. First there was a grapefruit curd inspired by a trip to Morocco on 101Cookbooks, and then there were whole fried mullet in the NYTimes Athens slideshow. And then the desire for a jar of lemon curd all to myself, to be standing in a kitchen full of windows, to be eating my mother’s strawberry shortcake. It’s around this time that I really start missing the busy morning markets and the fresh produce — the happiness of the farmers’ market finally coming back to life after endless weeks of pears and apples.
The last time I was home, my mother picked up a jar of guava curd for me. It was sweet and bright, yet surprisingly mild. I spread it between two layers of tender shards of shortbread dough, resisting the urge to press the grated shards into each other, which resulted in a soft, delicate crumb and a subtly tropical jammy center.