Saturday, October 22, 2022

Eating off the Hill: Berlin street food in the German Ambassador’s backyard

Before Fall took full hold in Ottawa I had the opportunity to attend a reception at the German Ambassador to Canada’s residence in commemoration of the anniversary of German reunification. The headliner: Berlin street food.

I lived in West Germany for four years in my youth, another three months in a unified Germany as a teen on a student exchange, and had the opportunity to visit Berlin for a week about a decade ago. So, as a big fan of Germany and German food, I was excited.

I’m also a big fan of Berlin street food. I remember when I was on exchange and all the visiting Canadian students were taken to Berlin for a visit, we’d be handed 10 Marks (this was pre-euro) getting off the bus to go find lunch on our own each day and practice our German. I would always head to the nearest doner kebab truck and get a doner and a drink for maybe 5 Marks, leaving my stomach full and a surplus in my pocket. And on my next visit to Berlin I discovered another Berlin staple – currywurst. An even cheaper iconic local street food.

So I was excited to see both on the menu at the German shindig, held on the broad and leafy backyard of the Ambassador’s home in Rockcliffe.

I popped by the bar first but they were out of red, but plenty of German Rieslings on hand. I opted for a soft drink instead and joined the sizeable doner line. There was no rotating doner spit on hand, but there was an assembly line of adding toppings before a self-serve sauce station. Which I had trouble with, the bottle not wanting to cooperating and then cooperating too much, resulting in a substantial oversauce.

Doner, for those that don’t know, is the Turkish version of a gyro, donair or shawarma. Germany has a substantial Turkish immigrant population and the doner kebab has spread from Berlin to street corners and shops across the country – and even several restaurants here in Ottawa. Meat, fresh veg and sauce in bread.

The one on offer here wasn’t super authentic, but given the limitations of the event that’s OK and it was still pretty good, hearty and satisfying. And I managed to keep it off my suit jacket, so win.

Up next was the currywurst, which a much shorter line. Currywurst is usually a chopped-up pork sausage (Germans love their pork) served in a curry ketchup. A different, lower carb take on the street popular in Toronto. It’s a tasty little snack, less filling than a doner kebab but also cheaper too. There is much competition in Berlin around sauce recipes and cooking techniques.

While there are a number of kebab shops in Ottawa now, currywurst sadly hasn’t made it here yet. This one was, again, just OK. The sauce was lacking zip – needed more curry. Though maybe seven years of South Asian cuisine has dulled my spice sensitivity .

The last item I had not heard of before, so I asked for an explanation. It was called a Frikdallen – basically a cold hamburger. I was told this was a common German bar food – they eat this after a lot of drinking so they can drink some more. As most of my time in Germany was a young lad, that probably explains why it was new to me. Maybe it’s better after a few steins of pilsner – I would have preferred it hot.

Still, it was great to sample again some of the foods I enjoyed in Germany. Thanks to the German Embassy for the food memories. Hope to visit the country again one day to get them at the source.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

No comments: