I love food. I am also a firm believer that, whenever you travel, trying local dishes is as important as sightseeing. Food IS a part of the whole traveling experience, and I always feel that those who miss out on it, miss out a lot. Berlin, however, is one of those unique places where it’s hard to describe what the local food actually is. Is it German bratwurst? Or Turkish Döner Kebab? Or American burger? Or Spanish chili con carne? Truth is that it’s a bit of everything, and in Berlin, which is now more cosmopolitan than ever, you can literally eat the whole world if you feel like it.
At least that’s what I learned last Saturday when I went on a food tour with Eat The World. These guys operate in every major city in Germany and in Berlin they actually offer 6 different tours depending on a zone you want to explore: Neukölln, Charlottenburg, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Schöneberg, and Prenzlauer Berg. I opted for Kreuzberg, which is famous for its cultural diversity, and the 3 hours I spent there sampling food fully convinced me that Berlin is a true capital of cosmopolitanism!
We started with Indian, ended with Italian and had Turkish, Spanish and German food in between, topped with some of Berlin’s tastiest bakeries. Together with our tour guide, Dieter, we went on exploring Kreuzberg’s culinary scene that was wonderfully intertwined with interesting stories about the area itself, which made the tour so much more than just a mere satisfying of our food craving.
During the tour I was introduced to a wonderful bakery that I will definitely return to – back.art. It’s a small, family-run bakery that makes the most amazing brownies I’ve ever had – seriously! Nice and chewy, these were chocolate tarts with cottage cheese and walnuts with a super-rich texture and a forever-lasting aftertaste. And if you think that something that tastes that good can’t be anything but bad for you, you’re wrong: the cakes offered at back.art are actually organic, which makes the pleasant sin of eating pastry not so much of a sin anymore.
Kreuzberg, by the way, is known as Berlin’s Little Tuscany, as there are so many bridges and so much Mediterranean food on every corner. But what is Italy without a real gelato, right?! So FYI, if you want to travel to Italy through an ice cream experience, go to Café Isabel. They claim to have the best ice cream in town, and so far I really haven’t found anything better.
Laid-back and artsy, full of amazing restaurants to eat at, Kreuzberg is a wonderfully eclectic place that comprises an astonishing amount of contrasting cultures that somehow manage to perfectly co-exist with each other. Just a bridge away, if you will leave Little Tuscany, you find yourself in Little Istanbul where the spirit of the Orient is so strong that it makes you question if you are still in Central Europe. Berlin has actually the biggest Turkish community outside of Turkey, which I find to be an amazing thing, to be honest – because if not, I wouldn’t be able to try all those delicious Döners and Böreks; the exciting Turkish market, where they sell the most amazing spices you can find in Berlin, wouldn’t exist; and life in general would taste a bit bland. So I’m all up for cultural diversity!
A funny detail about this food tour that I took was that the majority of the participants were actually Germans coming from Berlin. Surprisingly enough, they took this tour to “not see other Germans”, as they said themselves, and explore their own city from a tourist perspective – something that I also did once. I guess even when we settle down in one place, our human need to explore is still so strong that we cannot let it go. And we shouldn’t – especially when there’s so much amazing food to discover in Berlin!