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.

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