May 2013


SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
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The trip from Berlin to the ferry in Rostock (to return to Denmark) was one of the most beautiful, sunny, peaceful days of my vacation. My friend, the priest, and I speeded along the autobahn with its general lack of speed limits (add in the kilometer rather than miles, and you find yourself driving 160 on the speedometer!) (ack!) to get to the dock in time to catch the ferry.

On the way, we decided to make a pit stop in a tiny little German town, and have coffee and dessert at a bakery — they call them konditori. I spotted the above dessert in the case and asked what it was. I recognized the meringue, meaningful in any language. But, what was that green filling? Tart or sweet? Lime? Perhaps kiwi? The baker woman didn’t speak English. My Danish friend speaks a little German but not enough to know what it was. He thought he recognized it as made from a very round, light green berry, that grows on a bush.

It was delicious. Slightly tart, a faint scattering of little blackish seeds throughout.

I had just eaten my first Gooseberry Tart.

Now, on to København!

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It is true that, for me, my keenest observations while traveling occur at the cafes, the restaurants, the grocery stores: the food, what and how and even when people eat says so much about them.

Obviously that is how I frame my observations. And then there was Germany. I had stayed away from this country because of its sad and somber history. My idea of the language formed from Hollywood. Television. Hogans Heroes, ya’ know. It did not seem like a culture I wanted to learn about, much less embrace.

I admit there is so much I need to learn about this country, ugly past and all. How could I write about donuts and pastries, main dishes, caffè — after visiting the Stachenhausen concentration camp or the Topography of Terror museum in Berlin built over the former headquarters of the Third Reich. As I told a New York friend, how do I process this when I can just say — I’ve had enough! I’m walking away.

Is it really okay to stop for a curry wurst and pommes frites on the corner of “Checkpoint and Charlie?” Take vacay snaps in front of the Berlin Wall?

I don’t have the answers.