After a literally heart wrenching blutwurst experience, I was in need of a palate cleanser. I decided I needed to skip a day, as there was no way my body could handle another meat and potato extravaganza. Instead, I’m going to write about a very pleasant part of German food: breakfast. The German breakfast, or at least the Berlin breakfast, is not what you might expect. It’s not a giant sausage with a side of potatoes or a 15-egg omelet with a side of potatoes. It’s actually an artfully arranged platter of cold meats and cheeses with a little bread and fruit, and sometimes a boiled egg in an eggcup or some homemade jam. This particular mixed platter from the lovely café Bastard is the most beautiful I’ve eaten in Berlin, though it had more fruit (but such good fruit!) and less meats and cheeses than most. For me, this is kind of the ideal breakfast situation. I’m not a big eater in the morning, more of a coffee and spoonful of yogurt type person, but I would never at any time of day reject a cheese platter. Combined with my obsession with cured meats and my newfound appreciation of quark, another staple of the Berlin breakfast platter, it’s really a win-win for me.
|inside the classic Kreuzberg brunch spot and bar Ankerklause|
However, I get that I’m not on the same page as a lot of Americans on the breakfast front. I think that as a nation, we are probably more into breakfast than anyone else. Especially when it comes to brunch, we make it a production in a way that I’ve never seen in another country. I think when comparing it to German breakfast, the difference boils down to the matter of hot vs. cold food. In Germany, apart from scrambled eggs, which I see on a lot of menus, breakfast is mostly a cold affair, and usually a savory one. I might be wrong, but I think a lot of Americans might hate this fact. We like our bacon and pancakes and hash browns, and we like them greasy and hot off the griddle. Of course, in every country there’s going to be people who skip breakfast and just drink a cup of coffee, but I’m talking about the kinds of breakfasts that we go out to, like Sunday brunches or hungover morning feasts in our neighborhood diners.
|@ Ankerklause, another healthy and cold German breakfast fav: muesli with fruit and yogurt|
Brunch is actually a huge thing in Berlin, which I was so glad to find out about. There’s just something about brunch that I love so much—it’s such a ritual and it always feels like such a special occasion, like you’re really treating yourself. Still, I’ve found the brunch here to be lacking in hot food as well, which seems important for brunch. I enjoy it, but I have to say it doesn’t really hit the spot after a long Berlin night out quite like a proper American breakfast would. I think the huge population of American expats here would agree, which must be the idea behind the amazing “California Breakfast Slam,” an American-style brunch party that takes place in a bar in Neuköln on weekends. As the waitress there said as she brought me a ridiculously good plate of California-style huevos rancheros, “Americans have breakfast on lockdown.” Anyways, I’m done bragging about our breakfasts. The moral of the story is that breakfast is the one meal in the German repertoire that might leave you slightly hungry. In a cuisine that seems to base itself on fullness and satisfaction, this breakfast is a bit of an anomaly. Yet it makes sense that the traditional form of breakfast in Germany is still alive and thriving. In today's culture we put so much more of a stress on health and fitness, and it seems that there's a place for the German breakfast in that world. Even though cured meats and cheeses aren't the healthiest thing ever, so many of the trendier places, like Bastard, are using local, organic products as much as possible, and revamping the traditional breakfast in a more elegant way. With this discovery, I think I'm getting ready to move on from the realm of really traditional food to the newer, more modern German places.
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