Berlin: Restaurant Asteria: Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine

So, yesterday, I decided to join some friends and go to a greek restaurant with them.  I love greek food.  I love it even more after my trip to greece.  So many wonderful memories are from that trip.  The food and the people from my trip to greece were fabulous.  The question is, would this greek restaurant live up to it?

 

The restaurant is located right near Eberswalder Strasse, a U-bahn stop on the U2 line. We saw that the outside dining area was very full, and were worried that without reservations, the 8 of us would not be able to eat there.  The inside had plenty of room.  We sat down at nice big table and looked at the menu.

 

The atmosphere was wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

The menu looked a more bit expensive than I thought it would be. Entrees range from €9 to €15. Moussaka was €11.80 euros. I decided to go with a mixed grill platter (€12.80).  The grill platter consisted of gyros, souvlaki, tzatziki and a salad.  We also ordered tap water.  We were given glasses and a pitcher of water which we had refilled multiple times throughout the meal.

After we ordered, one of the waiters came around and gave the 8 of us, a tray with 8 complementary shots of ouzo.  Now, ouzo is the traditional spirit drunk in greece.  It is clear.  When mixed with water, it turns to a milky white.   It tastes like liquorice.    These shots, were this milky white color, so we knew that they were watered down.  We raised our glasses high, “yamas,” and then drank the liquorice-flavored milky-looking liquid.

Our salads arrived.  Normally, when an entree comes with salad in the description, it is not an entire course.  The salad was made of iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and shredded cabbage.  It was so filling, I could not finish it.

 

After the salad course, our ouzo glasses were refilled.  “Yamas!”  They refilled our ouzo glasses about 30 seconds after our previous toast.

 

 

We talked and chatted.  After a while, our food came out.  The food was served with fresh, still warm bread.  There was a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and another Balsamic vinegar on every table.  I poured these onto a little plate and dipped the bread in it.

 

The platters were incredibly large. This is a bad photo pf what I ordered, but the plate was a foot and a half wide.  The gyros (front right) was made of pieces of meat that had been skewered, cooked and then sliced.  The souvlaki (back right) was huge.  The balls of rice in the back must have been a 1/2 a cup each.

 

 

The person across from me ordered the scampi salad.  IT was huge.  This plate was also fuge.   You can get a sense of the size from the person sitting behind it.  The bowl was very deep and a 1 1/2 or more feet across.  That giant chuck of feta cheese was about 6 inches long.

 




 

 

I ate as much as I could, and this was what I was left with…

 

 

I still had more than a full meal left over, so I had it wrapped up.  After that, they brought out another complementary course for dessert: fresh fruit!

 

 

 

By this time, we were all so full.  They insisted in filling our ouzo glasses.  As the night had progressed, out ouzo went from a milky white to a clear color.  Throughout the entire meal, they kept on trying to give us more ouzo. It was not shady or anything like that.  It was very nice and festive.  It felt like a party.

 

 

 

 

I definitely recommend this place.  You will pay around €15-€20/per person after tip.  You will be so full, have enough food for 1-2 more meals, and you will have ingested as much or as little ouzo as you have wanted.  In the course of the night, I think they refilled our ouzo glasses about 5 times, but we had to restrain ourselves and them in order to drink that few.  If you do not want any more ouzo, just leave your glass full of it.  When you want more again, just drink it, and it will be refilled within the minute.  On some nights, there are two men with guitars that play and sing greek music.  That is when it turns into a real party.  It was too hot when we went for them to have the musicians that night.

 

 

Restauraunt Asteria

Griechisch Mediterran

Schoenhauser Allee 143

10435 Berlin

 

+030 400 53 571

12:00-24:00

 

http://www.asteria_berlin.de

Advertisements

Berlin: KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens

KaDeWe is something I stumbled into.  On the first floor, there is very high end jewelry, handbags, and then the usual cosmetics, perfumes, etc. For an example of high-end jewelry, they had Tiffany’s, Chanel, etc.

It reminded me a bit of Bloomingdales in NYC. It did not just sell clothes, but many other things:

I walked through rows and rows of beautiful, incredibly expensive foods.

One of my favorite sections in a really nice department store is their socks and tights section.

Sock heaven!  If I could afford these socks, I would totally wear them.


I accidentally stumbled into the childrens section.  Below are some normal preppy clothes, but for little boys.  The photo does not show it well because it is really hard to see the scaling.

This is a little boys mannequin wearing the most precious clothes.  I do not think I have seen a sports coat that small.

I would recommend visiting it if you want to see a very high-end department store.  The best part, is the restaurant and the Gourmet Level, but that is a separate post.

Address:

Tauentzienstr. 21-24

10789 Berlin Schöneberg

Berlin: Markthalle IX: Street Food Thursday

Markthalle IX or Market House 9 is an indoor market located near the U1 U-bahn station Gorlitzer.  To get there, you walk through a little park that has a church in it.

After you get to the end of the park, there is a lovely colorful setting of chairs, bikes and people enjoying food from a cafe.

After one more block, you are there! The bikes of the people inside are lined up along the streets.

You enter a stone building with a great big arch.   Depending on when you go, it could be completely packed, or you could have plenty of room to breath.  There are red and white striped tents that the different vendors have. Strings of Christmas lights are hung around the tents and over them to create a festive and almost-outdoor-market feel.

There are plenty of places to sit down and eat inside.  Sometimes it gets too crowded and people enjoy their food outside.

There is even a little playground inside for children.  This photo was taken when it was really busy, so it is hard to see.

After you get a feel for the atmosphere, it is time to walk around and figure out what to eat.  I recommend just walking around (multiple time)  to see what food options are available.

There are several vendors that sell cheeses, others sell meats, and even more sell wine, beer, mixed drinks, tea and coffee.  One vendor in particular sells tapas.  You get a tray with pieces of cured meats, cheeses, fish, and olives.

Each vendor sells something different.  For meals, there are plenty of assembled meals to buy.  For vegans, this is paradise.  There are multiple food stations dedicated to vegan food.

Mediterranean Street Food Platters from a Vendor

Meat eaters, do not despair, there is plenty for you to eat.  There is a vendor that sells fish (menu below)  There is also a supposedly amazing bbq vendor.  They have baked potatoes, beef brisket, pork belly and other barbequed meats.





After that, there are plenty of asian food vendors.  This is one particular Taiwanese vendor that served Taiwanese burgers.

I decided to order one of the burgers.  They have an original with pork belly, and a “skinny” version with chicken.  When I was there, they had already sold out of the chicken.  So, being on the pork belly!

After assembling it for me, it was time to get what was mine.

The final product.  It was soooo good. It is hard to tell what it is from the photo because they put on a lot of cilantro, just the way I like it.  This was definitely fabulous.  I would recommend it to anyone.  The pork belly was fabulous, and incredibly tender.  I am sure the chicken version would be very good as well.  And as a bonus, if you order the chicken version, your belly will not look like a pig’s belly!

That was not the only kind of exotic food that was there.  There was also a korean place that sold kimchi.

There was some latin american food as well.

There was also an African food vendor.  In addition to that, there were two vendors that sold pies.  Now, by pies, I do not mean american pies, like apple pie.  I mean pies from the United Kingdom:  Steak and ale pies, apple and pork pies, and more.  If anyone is missing there British food, hop on down and get some good old hardy pies.

There was this place that served cups of food.  There layout always looks so nice.  The photos below are of the same vendor, but on different nights.

My friend and I both got a cup from this vendor.  The savory cups were 3 euros while the sweet cups were 3.5 euros.  Below is a photo of another friend holding the cups we got.  The savory cup has potatoes and herbs in the bottom, with speck in the middle and a pumpkin puree on top.  This was then garnished with a potato chip.

For dessert, there were plenty of other options.  From pastries and cookies, to mango lassies, to mint-lemon iced tea and cucumber ginger ale, to apple cobbler and cheese cake, to sorbet, ice cream and gelato, you can hardly go wrong.

Below is the stand that sold the Lemon-mint iced tea, and some apple crumble.

Overall, it was a fabulous market.  I definitely recommend it.  It would be good for friends to hand out.  It is also a perfect place for a date.

This market is every Thursday from 5-10pm or as the Europeans like to say, 17:00 to 22:00.  There are other markets located at this place.  This information is specific to the street food market.  Have fun!!

Hours: 17:00-22:00

Address:  Eisenbahnstraße 42, 10997 Berlin

Berlin: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Memorial

 

I went to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Memorial with a friend.  We met up at Alexanderplatz U-Bahn station, and the tour started at 10am.  This was not my first concentration camp.  The first concentration camp I had been to was Dachau in southern Germany.  Six years ago, I went there with a group and it was a very emotional experience.  I never even made it to see the barracks.

 

This is not an in depth description of my visit, and I left out a ton of horrible stories.  I tried to stick to a minimum.  It is very difficult to write about this, and it is not enjoyable to read.  I would recommend going on a tour to a concentration or extermination camp at least once in your life.  It is important to do so.

If you do not want to read about the Nazi concentration camp, please skip to the section after the liberation of the concentration camp by the Soviets.  It is really important.  (There is a heading so you can scroll down and see it.)

A little history…

 

This was the first purpose built concentration camp.  That means that although it was not the first camp, it was the first camp constructed with the intent to be a concentration camp.  Next to this camp, the T-building was the building that administered and oversaw the running of the concentration camps. What was learned from this concentration camp was implemented in concentration camps throughout Germany.  The SS, the organization in charge of the concentration camps also trained their staff here.  They were trained like dogs to dehumanize them.  For example, if one of them dropped a bullet during training, they would be forced to pick it up with their teeth.  New SS employees were housed in one of the Concentration Camp sub-camps.  This severe form of hazing dehumanized and brainwashed the SS personnel.  This does not mean that they are innocent.  It simply demonstrates the type of control at all levels that existed.

 

This camp was designed with total terror and control in mind.  At the base of the triangle, there is an entrance gate, called Tower A.  This is where the prisoners would enter the camp.  On the gate in wrought iron, it read:

 

3. The inscription on the gates of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp - 'Work makes you Free'
“Work will set you free.”

 

From this tower, one could see the entire camp.  The barracks were laid out so that the guards stationed on top with machine guns could see everywhere and had a clear line of sight to shoot anyone.   It was said that the range of the guns covered the entire plant.

 

The small camp not inside that triangle was built later, it was a sub-camp, and it housed Jews.

 

 

The map, showing the shapes of the buildings.  Note Tower A looming over the entire camp.

 

The semi circle of empty space around Tower A was where rollcall happened.  There were gallows that were occasionally erected.  Prisoners would be hung from them with everyone watching.  At Christmastime, they would put a christmas tree over the spot where the gallows were erected.

 

Outside the camp, the workers worked in factories.  When the war started, the factories started to produce bullets.

 

Two of the barracks remain to this day.  They were reconstructed using original materials.  Each one housed 300 men.  The conditions were terrible.  These were their bathrooms.  With only 45 minutes to get up, straighten up the straw beds, eat breakfast and go to the bathroom, people would have been trampled, and there would have been human waste all over the floor.  There were also stories of SS guards drowning several prisoners in the toilets.

 

 

 

 

To prevent people from escaping, this was the security:

 

 

The gravel would have been sand so that the guards could see if people set foot there.  The sign says that it is neutral ground and that you will be shot without warning.  Then, there was barbed wire.  If you made it past the machine guns on the towers, you had to get over that.  After that, there is an electric fence that will kill you.  If you manage to get past that, there is an 8 foot stone wall.  After that, you have a bit before you escape the entire camp area.  The factories and administration buildings were outside there.  If you did manage to escape them, you were in prison uniform, and you needed papers to get back inside Berlin.

 

At the end of the tour, we stopped at Building “Zed” or Building Z.  The SS personnel had a sick humor.  Remember Building or Tower A?  Well, once the “Final Solution” was implemented, a crematorium was built at this camp.  The people would enter a gassing chamber.  Then their bodies would be burned in the crematorium.  The building that this was done in was named, “Building Z.”  A prisoner would start at A and end at Z.  Seeing the brick and twisted metal remains of the three furnaces was probably the worst part.

 

I was there on a tour for about 5 and a half hours.  There is a lot to say, but it is very heavy, dark and emotionally difficult.  No one can really describe what it is like to go to one.  You just have to experience it.

 

In 1945, the concentration camp was liberated by the Russians.  

During the Nazi reign, there were 200,000 people who were housed in the camps.  About 50,000 died, not by purposeful extermination, but from disease, starvation and horrible conditions.

 

The Soviets built a memorial to the Anti-fascist political prisoners.  They did not commemorate anyone else.

 

Erected by the soviets just outside the concentration camp to commemorate the Anti-Fascist political prisoners that suffered in the Nazi concentration camp.

Three months after the liberation of this Nazi concentration camp by the soviets, the soviets started to use it as their own concentration camp to house political dissidents.

As we learned, some things were different during Nazi and Soviet rule.

 

During Nazi rule, inmates could write a letter once every one to two months.  These letters were highly censored, of course.  This was not allowed when it was a soviet concentration camp.

 

During Nazi rule, if you requested an urn of your deceased’s ashes, you could receive them.  Now it would probably be someone elses ashes, but you would get an urn.  This did not happen during Soviet rule.  Once people entered the concentration camp systems, relatives received no information and did not know if their loved ones were dead or alive.

 

Also, the security system was added to in Soviet times.  In between the electric fence and the 8 foot wall, dogs were added.

 

These are the only things I know that were different between the Soviet and Nazi use of this concentration camp.

I still cannot get over the fact that after the liberation of this camp, the Soviets honored some of the victims of the Nazi camp while they used the facilities for their own concentration camp.

Europe: Smoking

Europe is a fabulous place.  I love being in Europe.  There is so much history.  This leads to the vast variance in cultures, architecture, languages and cuisines across Europe.  In the United states, if you go one hundred miles north, south, east or west of where you grew up, the culture really has not changes much at all.  The language is pretty much the same, and the food does not vary.  And the architecture is the same as well.

So don’t get me wrong, I love Europe.  However, there are several cultural differences that I simply do not like. The one I will focus on in this blog post is smoking.

In the United States, in the last 50 years, smoking has become more and more socially unacceptable.  People who smoke are regarded as damaging public health.  Most people who smoke in the United States (that I have talked to) want to smoke, but are unable to quit.  There is a quote from the film Sunshine State (2002) where a man says something to the effect of, “One cannot light up a cigarette these days without people viewing him as a murder,” or something like that.  The point is, smokers are vilified in the United States. Second hand smoke kills.  Not only are smokers considered to endanger their own lives by smoking, they also endanger other peoples lives.  Through indifference or personal weakness, smokers are responsible for people dying of cancer.

This is the view towards smoking in the United States, and our policies reflect this.  Smoking is not permitted in public buildings or 20 feet from an entrance of one.  All restaurants are non-smoking.  I love it.  I can go somewhere and I do not have to worry about inhaling second hand smoke.  I maybe encounter inhaling second hand smoke maybe once a month when I am in the US, if that.

Stop Smoking

In Europe, it is completely different.  People walking around and smoke all the time.

1920x1200 Smoking Cigarettes wallpaper

I probably have the equivalent of inhaling about a cigarettes worth of second hand smoke every couple of weeks or less.  The thing is, while I waiting on the steps of an opera house for the box office to open, a man on the steps below me was sitting by his wife.  This was a respectable looking man wearing a suite.  He just started smoking.  He could have easily walked away from people while his wife held his place in line. I had to decide between holding my spot in line and inhaling his second hand smoke.  I thought it was incredibly rude.  That would not have happened in the US.

Another thing that highlights this a bit more.  I was in the second row in an opera.  People were smoking onstage.  I figured they were fake cigarettes like what they use on Broadway in the United States.  Opera singers could not possible damage themselves, their voices or lungs like that, or at least I thought that was the case.  They came to the front of the stage and they were smoking real cigarettes.  I know this because I had the pleasure of inhaling second hand smoke, and it was clearly cigarette smoke.

smoking addiction

I looked around, expecting everyone to be offended or at least put off.  What struck me even more was that the people in the first, second and third rows, who were forced to inhale the smoke were not offended.  They were people who had gone to an opera, and bought the most expensive tickets ( €85 or $109 or more).   They were probably business men and women, professionals, etc who had an appreciation of opera.  They would be an affluent, probably well educated cross-section of society.  They did not care at all. I was shocked.

Paris was lovely.   But when one is looking up at the Eiffel Tower, enjoying the skyline of Paris from the top of Montmartre, sitting outside in a cafe, sipping a latte and watching the world go by or taking a stroll along the Seine, inhaling a chunk of cigarette smoke kind of detracts from the experience.  The same can be said when in London.

I am aware of the facts.  I do not view the United States with delusional eyes.  I know the United States smokes the same amount as Europeans.  The US consumes about the same amount of cigarettes per capita as Germany or France.   The difference is, in the US, people have to smoke in private.  Non-smokers do not encounter nearly as much cigarette smoke in the US as they would in Europe.

P.S. None of these photos are mine.

Berlin: My Desk and Roses

So, for all my friends and family who are reading this, this is a little bit about my room, or more specifically, my desk.

My favorite thing about my room is how white it is.  The walls are white, my desk is white, the bed frame is white, my sheets are white and the curtains are white.  This makes it a very bright room.

Having a job means that I do not have to do homework outside of the office.  This means that my desk can be whatever I want it to be.  Hopefully, you can gleam a little insight on what my life is right now by my desk and what I tack above it.

There are no books there.  This is because my books are not on my desk but in another location.

I also have a painting that I purchased in Skala, Kefalonia, Greece when I was there in May of this year, 2013.

Roses are not something I keep.  I do not have enough money to spare right now to keep roses in my room.  You see, I would rather take the money I could spend on flowers and spend it exploring Berlin, especially since I spend very little time in my room.  These flowers were a gift.  I was given 14 white roses by someone who says he likes me, but does not speak English.  I tried to refuse them, but he would not let me.   But roses are roses, and after I took them, I might as well enjoy them.  They really are beautiful.

(Do not worry, the man who gave them to me will not read this.  He does not know my name.)

I put them in a vase and put them in my desk.  They looked so pretty there.  It does make you feel special when you get roses, regardless of the circumstances.

The next thing I had to do was add all the opera tickets and stuff to my desk.  You see, each thing pinned to my desk represents something.

  • The rainbow flag was actually something I picked up off the street after an LBGTQ Pride Festival.  I did not go to the festival, but I saw it and decided to hang it up in my wall.  The colors are beautiful.  Rainbows represent rebirth and new beginnings.  Berlin is all about rebirth and new beginnings.
  • The Opern Chore leaflet is the program from a concert I went to at the Berlin Philharmonic.
  • The ice cream postcard was from the Turkish Market.
  • The green and white ticket is from the Opera Lohengrin performed by the Welsh National Opera.
  • The very small white and gold ticket is from The Great Gatsby.  I saw it in Berlin when I went out with soon-to-be friends for the first time.
  • The Blue card at the bottom with the hearts and the french and german flag is from the French and German Festival, that I still need to write a blog post on.
  • The black and grey schedule is a running schedule that I am trying to keep to.
  • The painting I purchased in greece as I explained above.
  • The fortune cookie fortune reads “YOU’LL HAVE A LOT OF FUN NEXT WEEKEND.”  The fortunes many not be great in Germany, but at least the fortune was in English.
  • The ten red and white tickets are tickets to operas at the Komische Oper in Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin.

 

 

Maybe this will give you more insight into my life in Berlin, maybe it will not.  Oh, well, if the latter is the case, sorry for wasting your time.

Separation of Animal and Meat

One thing that is interesting in German is meat, or rather, what they call their meat.  Upon doing some research, I found that it is English, not German that is the anomaly.

 

In English, we have a separation of animal and meat…

 

Cow                        Beef

Cow (baby)             Veal

Pig                           Pork

Deer                        Venison

Sheep                      Mutton

 

Of course, there are sum exceptions to this rule:

 

Chicken        =         Chicken

Lamb            =         Lamb

 

In Germany, this is completely different.  Schweinefleisch is the word for pork in Germany, which literally translates to swine flesh or pig flesh.  All meats including fish (to my knowledge) have the word -fleisch at the end of them.  This is useful for vegetarians who are not familiar with German.  All you have to do is stay away from anything that has fleisch in it.   In fact, the German word for meat is fleisch (Flesh in English).  A butcher is called a fleischerei.

 

I kind of like the fact that in English, the names of the food are a bit removed from the food.  I know that this leads to English speaking countries obliviousness to animal treatment during meat production, slaughter, and other animal rights issues.  I am aware that when I eat meat, it comes from an animal.  My ancestors were farmers.  I get it.  I prefer to buy local, free range meat where the animals are well taken care of.  I have seen a young bull, petted it, called it by name, and then ate meat from that same animal (when it was a steer) the next year. (I visited family members and met their (then) bull. His name was Moo-Moo. He became a stag later on. The next time I visited, I sat down to eat a hamburger, and it was announced that we were eating Moo-Moo burgers.  He was a tasty animal.)  But all the same, I prefer to use delicate words when having a meal.  Can you imagine saying, “The roasted beat, goat cheese and arugula salad with candied pistachios was excellent.  Please pass the rosemary pig flesh roast?”  I think not. “The roasted beat, goat cheese and arugula salad with candied pistachios was excellent.  Please pass the rosemary pork roast,” sounds a lot better.

 

It is not the German language that is unusual in this manner, but rather the English language.  The reason this is the case is because the words for the animals in the English language are Anglo-Saxon while the words for the food are Norman-French.  When the Norman-French invaded current day Britain, they became the ruling aristocracy that could afford to eat meat.  The people who worked for the Norman-French were the people who interacted with the animals.  The farmers, butchers, etc were poor Anglo-Saxons and used the Anglo-Saxon words for the animals.  When the meat was cooked an prepared, it was given to the Aristocratic Norman-French and they used the Norman-French words for the animals that were served.  This is why the animal words are different from the meat/food words.  They originate from two separate languages.

Berlin: Street Art on a Car

So, I saw this when I was walking, and I just had to stop and take photos.  This is the type of street art that I love.  It is interesting, cute, amusing, and it does not property damage (I am assuming that the person who did it did it with the consent of the cars owner.)  I just had to share this.  It just made me smile.

 

So, anyways, I am walking down the street and I see this old car parked on the side of the road, like any other car.  Then, I see little figurines painted on the car.   It just made me laugh!

 

Look at some of them.  You have a broken down car painted on the front of a car.  The tire is busted, the car has been jacked up and one person is replacing the tire while the other is looking under the hood of the car.

 

The person front center is standing on his head and seems to be having a really good time, while on one side, a person looks like he has a headache and is kneeling while the person on the other side is just chilling.

 

 

Take your time and look closely at all of these little images.  The closer you look, the more interesting and amusing they are.

 

It is the little things of a city that give the city its character.  Things like this just make me love Berlin.

 

Berlin: Street Art is not Graffiti

I have always hated graffiti.  Graffiti is a form of vandalism.  I still believe that.  There is a difference between street art and graffiti.  The problem is, this difference is subjective.

One of the reasons why I am against graffiti is because it damages property.  You are painting on other peoples space, and it serves no purpose.  It is essentially vandalism.  The below photo is what I would call graffiti and vandalism.  Some poor government worker is going to have to scrub that off the wall.  The state of Germany, AKA taxpayers are going to have to pay for it.  This adds no aesthetic value and is simply teenagers writing their initials on a wall because they think it makes them look cool.  If you want to do this, do it on your own space, and do not make anyone else pay for it.

This photo below, was taken from a U-bahn stop.  You are looking out the glass window and seeing what people spray painted on another building from the roof.  I have no idea what it says, but at least it is more aesthetically pleasing than the last one.

This was spray painted onto the side of a church.

This was on a metal wall which was near the Warschauer Strasse U + S Bahn station.

This was on an old abandoned industrial building that turned into a club by the train tracks near the Warschauer Strasse U + S Bahn station.  The building owners, I am sure do not care about the painting on their walls.  In fact, I think they actually prefer it to be there.  It helps attract their clientele.  The thing is, I would consider this Street Art.  It does no one harm, and it is actually really cool.  A 3 story portrait of 2 people.  This is reminiscent of the East Side Gallery that displays street art painted onto the Berlin Wall.

The thing is, I am confused.  I like some of it, think some of it is vandalism and do not know how to categorize the rest of it.  The jury is out.  All I know it that sometimes, when I see something really cool, I can only categorize it as Street Art.  There are districts in Berlin that have a lot of these types of large cohesive images painted on the sides of buildings.

I suppose as long as it does not hurt anyone, cost other people money to fix, damage the building, or make it aesthetically unpleasing, then no harm is done.  Right?

Berlin: Thai Market

So, this market is a little unusual.  It started around 1990.  It is located near a large Thai population and people would gather on the weekends in the park, bring picnics, and eat thai food.  People started trading and selling goods and foods until eventually, it grew into what it is today.

It is located in Pressen Park, near the U7 U-bahn Konstanzer Strasse.  Upon entry to the park, you can see this sign. It says it is illegal to have coolers that have more food than a family can eat, one is not allowed to sell food and that several other things.  The text on this sign is written in English, German and Thai.  You can read the text if you open up the full sized version.  You see, the local counsel is trying to shut the market down.

Now, why would they want to shut this down?  Well, the answer can be seen below.  If you can read German, you will see why.  The counsel has been paying 20,000 euros per year to clean up the trash in the park.  The counsel is no longer willing to pay this, so they hope that you will carry your own trash out.  Hopefully, people will carry their trash out and the market will not be shut down.

If you do visit, please bring a plastic bag to put your trash in.  If you want to be really good, then carry it with you until you get to the nearest non-park garbage can.  If you are going home via the U-bahn station, you have to carry it only a tenth of a mile.

This thai market is every Saturday and Sunday, although there are more vendors and people on Sunday.  About half of the people are there by noon and by two o’clock, the last of the vendors are setting up.

They tend to form a horseshoe shape, but there are outliers here and there.  Each vendor sits in approximately the same place every time.

The vendors tend to be little old Thai ladies.  They set up on mats on the ground, put umbrellas up for shade, but their coolers beside them and have portable burners to cook stuff on.  A lot of the vendors sell fried food that they will fry up in front of you.  Some of the most common fried foods are thai chicken wings, spring rolls, chicken, pork or fish skewers served with cucumber and peanut satay sauce, fried potato patties, fried whole fish, etc.

Other vendors sell drinks.  One vendor sold mojitos.  Now, mojitos are not thai in origin.  But honestly, with the mint and the lime in them, I can only imagine that it would be a good combo.  They also sell thai iced coffee, thai iced tea and other thai drinks.  You can find several vendors that sell cans of soda, sugary drinks, water and beer.

You see, this would not be allowed to exist in the United States.   It would violate too many food safety regulations.  You see, some of the women do not wear gloves, while others wear a glove on just one hand.  Often times, there is only one person working, while other people are sitting and chatting on mats close by to take over should the worker need to run to the bathroom or trade off shifts.  This means that the same person handles and the food.

I should have been nervous eating here the first time, and I was.  I had read up on it, and knew that people went here on a frequent basis, it was well established and it was on many lists of things to do in Berlin.  So I figured, of one vendor made people sick, then no one would buy from them.  Also, my first trip, I ate a fried spring roll and soup that had been boiling when it left the pot.  I figured that any bacteria would have died when the food was being fried or boiled.

Another great thing about this market is the clientele.  This is why I believe it is authentic Thai food.   Lots of Thai people purchase and eat the food from the vendors. Families go to this market and eat the food.  They spread their mats out and spend the day eating, socializing, napping and playing.  Plenty of non-Thai locals do this too.   It is a perfect thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday.

The adults can socialize while the children play.

The first and second time I visited, I had soup.  It was a clear broth with vermicelli (rice noodles), greens, pork and these meat balls, bean sprouts and peanuts.  It came in reusable bowls with the chinese spoon and chopsticks.  You could help yourself to the condiments including sugar, pickled peppers, fish sauce (nước mắm in Vietnamese, nam pla in Thai), chili powder and ground chilies in oil.

The second time I came, I had the same soup above and I tried a spring roll.  I accidentally dropped my first one, but the lady saw and was nice enough to replace it for free.  The spring roll had some corn in it.  It was very good and still tasted traditional.

We also ordered chicken satay with a peanut satay sauce and cucumber.  After that, I tried some meat on a stick and some Thai iced tea.

On my third visit, I was more adventurous.  Well, maybe it was because the people I was with were more adventurous that I was.  When I was in Greece, I had octopus and squid, and it was fabulous.  I had been craving it ever since.  I pointed the squid out to the people I was with and told them I had not had the guts to get it. Their response was, well, lets try it now.  Okay.

After we ordered it, she put the squid back in the pan to cook it some more and make sure it was nice and hot.  After that, she asked me in German if I wanted sauce on it (at least I think she did) and I said yes.  The sauce she poured over it was a hot chili sauce with a flavorful but liquidy base.  It was served with some thinly sliced lettuce and a lime wedge.  I had it in hand and was ready to eat it!

It was fabulous.  After that, we moved on to other foods.  One lady was selling food wrapped in leaves.  She said that one was banana and the other was taro.   When we opened them, we found that they were sticky coconut rice balls filled with banana and taro that had been fired.  The taro one was a triangle, and the banana one was in the shape of a cylinder.  You can see the toothpick that was used to hold the thing together when firing.  The charred edges seem to indicate that very high temperatures were used.

The banana one had beans in it as well.  You can see them below.

They were so good.  After that, we purchased a tray of 4 summer rolls and sat down to ate them.  One of them was shrimp, another was tofu and then there was a chicken one and a pork one.

From them on, one person would get up, buy the group some food and then bring it back.

The first round of that, we had fried vegetable patties, fried, breaded shrimp, and fried breaded sardines, all smothered in sweet thai chili sauce.   The photo below shows the sardines and the shrimp.  We had already eaten the patties when this photo was taken.

The next round of food was brought to us and it was more of the sardines, shrimp, and patties.  In addition to that, we each had a skewer of chicken and pork, smothered in peanut satay sauce, and served with cucumber.  After we ate that, we were almost full, but it was my turn to get the food.  I got one big pork bun, some fried bananas with sesame seeds and a Thai iced tea and a thai iced coffee.  I figured if we were getting full, we should finish up with dessert.

After that, we walked around the park for a while and then headed home.

So, on my fourth visit, I went alone.  I had just finished my run, and had not eaten that day.  I decided to boost my sugar quickly and get some more of those fired coconut rice balls with banana and taro wrapped in leaves.  Because I did not find the other vendor I we bought them from before, I tried out a new vendor.

Since they were a euro each, I got one of each.  The first one I ate I honestly have no idea of what it is.  It was coconut something surrounding something that was amazing, but nonetheless a mystery.  I think it was a type of fruit, but other than that, I have no idea.

The second one however, was exactly like I thought it would be.  Rice made sticky with coconut milk with a banana in the center.  I think I prefered the banana and taro rice things that I had the previous visit.  The taro and the mystery thing above were the best.

After that lovely start, I decided to try another place for the main course.  I found this vendor who cooked whatever you want to order.  The meal was 5 euros.

I watched her make what looked like Pad Thai.  Then she made a stir fry with chicken and bamboo shoots and served it over rice.

Then she made Pad See Ew.

It looked so good, I decided to order it for myself.  I could have had any meat I wanted to, but I decided to stick with tofu.

Viola! The final product.  See that red stuff in the bottom?  That is chili powder to make it very spicy.  I mixed all of it in and ate it.  It was really good and really hot.