Convivialistisch Berlin

by convivialist

I just moved back to Berlin. Wait. I just moved back to BERLIN! Better… I JUST MOVED BACK TO BERLIN! Ok, maybe just a bit too enthusiastic.

I originally came to this vibrant village just over one year ago. Before that, I lived for about six years in Brooklyn, New York, which summoned me back Stateside for the last four months. But now. Now I have finally returned to the capital city of Germany, which in all fairness is much, much more than a village. Not only is it quite varied in its offerings, particular cultural ones, it also retains a certain joie de vivre that my other home city sometimes lacks. There is a sense of it being still unfinished and ever-emerging, perhaps in part due to the fact that only 22 years ago this place we now call Berlin was truly two cities, two cultures, two worlds entirely. There surely have been tomes written on this subject, so I won’t dwell on my outsider observations. I only venture to say that to many people visiting or newly living in Berlin as a citizen of another country, there is a something in the air that… enchants.

But let’s talk about the food.

I ostensibly moved to Berlin to work on my artwork full-time— to finally, truly, be an Artist. But a New York artist in Berlin, well, how’s that for a stereotype? I ended up finding that, while making art does play an enormous role in my life, another of my interests continually knaws away at me, typically manifested in the lateral hypothalamic area of the brain. For anyone who knows something about the neurological system, that is precisely the region in the human brain that regulates hunger and thirst. So, yes, I enjoy food. I like buying food, cooking food and eating food. Most of all, though, I enjoy sharing food with other people. (Well, except for that sweet, perfectly ripened fig, a warm pain au chocolat, or an early autumn Maine lobster— just no need to share those things…)

Berlin has afforded me many opportunities to share meals with wonderful people. This was a revelation for me, coming from New York. Why? Well, here apartments are BIG! One can actually invite friends over without forcing them to sit on the corner of a bed while dining, or needing to wash the dishes in the bathtub because the kitchen is just too small. Secondly, the international community here often works in the creative sector, i.e., they don’t make much money. Many people in Berlin simply cannot afford to go out to costly restaurants every night. Instead, they invite each other to their homes to cook together. The values are different. Lastly, I feel the restaurant culture is less important in Berlin (and perhaps all of Germany) than it is in New York. New Yorkers are absolute restaurant fanatics. You can find the best of anything you could possibly ever want! Top-rated dim-sum at 4am, why not? Raw organic chocolate ice-cream, no problem, what neighborhood are you in? The most tasty pizza on this side of Naples? Sure, we’ve got it, but you had better be willing to wait two hours for a table. The food and restaurant culture in New York is frenetic and competitive, and we LOVE it. Until, that is, we don’t anymore… What ever happened to the spontaneous dinner with friends or neighbors? No, I don’t mean dinner party, only cooking something simple and delicious for other people on a Tuesday night. I was frustrated with that part of New York— little community around eating and lots of big checks at the end of the night where you always end up throwing in extra for the guy at the table who “forgot” he ordered two extra after-dinner drinks.

So! You can imagine the thrill a few months after being in Berlin when I began to see food culture in a whole new and wholesome light. My mission for this blog is to present the delicious discoveries that can only come from cooking and eating alongside other people. And in Berlin, those other people come from a diversity of countries, cultures and backgrounds. I will cook with friends who will prepare something uniquely THEIRS, something they know and take pride in sharing, and then post recipes and photos for you to peruse. This is not to say I will never tell you about something great I ate at a restaurant. There are certainly many worthy examples. But mostly the blog will be about cooking and sharing food in the home. I’ll no doubt throw in some of my own experiments and food-based research, as well. I hope you will enjoy! I am looking forward to it.