Have food will travel


A recent work trip brought me to Berlin, where I stayed on for another four days to recharge my batteries after work had concluded. It was a refreshing change from Asia, the German orderliness a sharp contrast with frenetic Bangkok, and also presented a good opportunity for me to sample German food at its source.

Since I didn’t have much time to do research for my Berlin trip, I decided I’d just enjoy the spontaneity. Besides obligatory trips to icons like Brandenburg Gate, Berliner Dom and Checkpoint Charlie, a lot of my leisure time there was spent cupping a warm brew or slicing wurst. It was partly the weather’s fault. With temperatures hovering around zero, the cold got to me after every hour of walking. My companions, first my colleague and then my good friend who’s studying there, were more than agreeable to the jaunts in cafes too.


Cafes and restaurants in Berlin were surprisingly affordable, perhaps still a significant level above Bangkok’s prices but certainly equal or even less than Singapore’s. I was delighted to find that a cup of coffee was often priced at 2-3 euros (80-120 baht), similar to what higher-end cafes in Bangkok are asking for too, but of a much better quality. Furthermore, a lot of these cafes were individually owned, where the proprietor could often be seen bustling in the background and each place’s quirky character really shone through.

And I love popping into the supermarkets in Berlin to marvel at the dazzling array of cheese, sausages and alcohol on offer. Beer and wine are almost too cheap to be true—I even snapped a photo of a 35-cent beer to prove to Mr. P that I wasn’t lying when I said that alcohol was cheap. If we live in Germany, I thought, we will surely become alcoholics. Guess we Asian folks are missing out on the finer pleasures of drinking!


On my last day, I went on a grocery shopping rampage in Potsdam (where my friend was staying), popping into bakery to bag freshly baked bread, hopping into a boutique to browse locally produced cheese and wrapping it up at the supermarket to pick up as many sausages, goat’s cheese, olive, chocolates and tea bags that could fit into my luggage.

I think travelling is to make one more aware of other cultures and ways of life, and for me the culinary aspects of a place often speak the loudest. The numerous cafe trips in Berlin have given me inspiration to recreate some dishes and drinks on my own back in the sultry Bangkok and certainly left me hungering for more food experiences overseas. Till the next trip then!



Vietnamese coffee

Before visiting Vietnam, I’d read lots of raving accounts about Vietnamese coffee. Earlier this May, when Mr. P and I visited Saigon together with my folks, I of course made it a point to try the local coffee. We arrived to a scorching sun, and during our first outing to the Ben Thanh market, we stopped by a little roadside stall for drinks to quench our thirst. Perched on a stool beside a low table, I had my virgin taste of ca phe da, or iced Vietnamese black coffee. It was strong and flavourful, so unlike the watery versions often encountered in Bangkok and Singapore. Now I know why so many people sing praises of Vietnamese coffee. And for the subsequent three days in the city, I’d always order a cup of Vietnamese coffee for breakfast.

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