Bookstore window, with mushrooms and surprises

Display of German books, including mushroom guides and two Alice Munro books with stickers reading "Nobelpreis Literatur 2013"

Inspired by the unexpected sun this morning, I took an impromptu walk through a neighborhood I didn’t know. Among the cozy, pre-war buildings near Nöldnerplatz in Lichtenberg, I noticed this bookstore window. It was the pleasing array of colorful mushroom and berry field guides that first caught my eye. Then I saw the two paperbacks by Alice Munro, a favorite writer of mine, and did a double take. Each had been emblazoned with a sticker reading “Nobelpreis für Literatur 2013.” Continue reading

Well-wrapped cheese

Wedge of cheese wrapped tightly in cheese paper printed with cheeses

A well-wrapped cheese is a joy to behold, I find. Proper cheese paper and perfectly tucked corners make for a satisfying object to carry home from the market. Though the typeface choice is less convincing, I do like the funny holey cheese illustrations.

Painting house, paint names

Many different-colored patches of paint on the side of a house

Looks like someone is painting their house. Someone who wants to explore all the options and maybe has trouble making decisions, but also isn’t afraid to use any visual decision-making tool at hand, no matter how obsessive, to help them make up their mind.

Continue reading

Soup season: Turkish grandma’s red lentil

Bowl of orange soup with lentils, carrots, and yogurt; spoon on a cloth napkin.

Blustery gray fall weather hit Berlin with a wet thud, quite punctually as soon as September started. Hot soup is now key to fueling my studio work. I’ve been meeting my friends to eat spicy Chinese noodle soups and swap recipes for our favorite hot, one-pot meals. I typed up several this week for Jane and Sylee, so I’ll be posting them here as well, over the course of soup season.

It was thanks to a chain letter — a recipe exchange chain email, to be precise — that I learned to make “Turkish Grandma Lentil Soup,” Continue reading

No French fries here!

Sign on white wooden door reading "NEE, wir haben keene Pommes" with crossed-out picture of french fries

In emphatic Berlinerisch, visitors to the little snack bar and beer garden on the Insel der Jugend in Treptower Park are told not to even ask about fries. But there’s Flammkuchen, steak grilled to order, and other specials like homemade ravioli and cake. And cold Staropramen on tap. So no problem. You can also rent a vintage canoes or brightly-painted medal pedal boats at Kanuliebe. Not bad for a tiny island in the city.

Googly eyes make everything better

Campaign poster with photo of a woman, with googly eyes stuck on the poster over the eyes.

Googly eyes make everything better. Even political posters. With elections less than six weeks away, Berlin is plastered with them. As a foreigner without the right to vote here, I am doubly annoyed by this visual pollution—usually. Even by the ones from the Pirate Party, even though they have a great name and I guess many of my pirate-loving American friends would probably love the idea of voting for pirates. This poster I saw in Friedrichshain is pretty cool though.

By the way, the name for googly eyes in German is Wackelaugen. Wackel means wiggle, jiggle, or shake. The word for Jello is Wackelpudding.