Berlin is, of course, not only the Reichstag and the Carrivurst. And even more so, not “Berlin” cookies, which have never been there. Modern Berlin is incredibly vibrant, striving for freedom and independence in everything. Even in food.

Since childhood, everyone knows what the main sights to see in Berlin are the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the ruined Kaiser Wilhelm church, the KaDeWe department store, the television tower and a piece of the Berlin Wall. You can also go to the zoo to take a picture with its symbol – a polar bear. But there is a completely different Berlin, not a tourist one, modern, owned by Berliners who are fighting for equality and against any restrictions.

Life is everywhere

Kreuzberg is the most informal and multicultural district of Berlin, which became in the 70s of the last century a “haven” for representatives of various countercultures: from punks to anarchists. Moreover, they organized a roof over their heads in a very original way – they simply occupied empty dilapidated buildings without water and light – this is how the squats that exist to this day appeared. Local authorities try not to touch the local residents, so their life is quite calm: they organize small exhibitions, concerts, workshops, film screenings and even buffets. And most often for visitors, admission is free or for a nominal fee. True, not all squats welcome uninvited guests, therefore, tourists should pay attention to the signs “Observe silence” or “Do not take pictures” at the entrance, otherwise you may be left without a phone or a camera. Despite the fact that fights, mass riots and clashes with the police still happen on the streets of Kreuzberg, the hooligan spirit of the district continues to inspire the creative bohemian living next to the rebels and attracts desperate tourists – there is something to see.

Crazy graffiti and murals the height of a 10-storey building, an incredible number of strange bars and cafes, vintage shops and shops with an assortment of “everything for the revolution”, art galleries and beautiful churches. Here you can just walk with a glass of excellent coffee from local coffee shops or go for lunch at one of the kebabs.

A third of the population of Kreuzberg are immigrants and guest workers from Turkey, many of whom came here in the second half of the 20th century. In 1971, a family of Turkish workers, Hasir, brought with them to Berlin the technology for making kebab on a vertical skewer, rather than on a horizontal one. An improved version of the dish, served in a tortilla with a salad of fresh vegetables and yogurt-based sauce, was called dener-kebab, without which it is now impossible to imagine German street food. By the way, Hasir Kebab cafe is still working on Adalbertstrasse 10, although it more closely resembles a solid restaurant, and the prices here are not so affordable. Doner kebab in pita, sandwich, pita bread or on a plate in a “disassembled” form, with a variety of sauces and even vegetarian versions – which you can not find on the streets of Berlin kebabs. Moreover, outwardly completely unremarkable places can turn out to be real “hidden pearls” of fast food, for example, as a Rüyam gemüse kebab stall in the Schöneberg district, whose owner is a girl! Sabina is not even 30 years old, and she has already become the first lady specialist in kebabs, despite the fact that men traditionally cook it. There are only five tables, the walls are covered with thanks from the guests, while “my dear” or “my beloved” are turning to all the guests here. The place is so popular that weddings are even played here, and instead of a cake, the newlyweds cut a thick piece of meat from a skewer.

Market relations

The Germans are very fond of carefully choosing products – to their joy in Berlin there are more than 250 city markets and fairs: many of them work only on weekends or on certain days. The local population has the opportunity to buy local vegetables, meat, milk, and farmers – to sell their products directly. About ten years ago, indoor city markets began to be renovated in Berlin, turning them into food markets so fashionable today and where you can not only buy products from real local farmers, but also eat. And even a drink. Gastronomic concepts from all over the world are collected at the Markthalle Neun market in Kreuzberg: tapas, salumeria, tofu with various toppings for vegetarians, a variety of Turkish meze snacks, there are corners with ice cream, farm sausages, cheeses and bread.

All the kitchens in the corners are open, so you can watch how your steak is grilled or chopped with pastrami. Here you can buy a bottle of wine or a mug of craft beer and get a meal at one of the common tables.

In order to combat gentrification, a process in which wealthy people in the area drive out the poor by raising prices for utilities, rent, and groceries, ordinary supermarkets with very affordable prices work in Berlin’s covered markets. So that any free artist had something to eat if he could not afford farm products.

WHAT TO TRY

  • cue scallop from the bottom of the North Sea, pickled in gooseberry dressing with blackcurrant leaves. Served with pike caviar and broth from all other scallop elements.
  • Kohlrabi in several textures: baked kohlrabi cream, raw kohlrabi and marinated on manner ceviche in “tiger milk”.
  • Wild halibut with grapefruit and pickled wild garlic flowers.
  • Dry aged cabbage aged in the aging chamber and cooked on charcoal. Served in tandoori style with three sauces: tandoori yogurt and sauces in the Indian style – based on mushrooms and baked onions. Accompanied by a salad of pickled red onions, with cilantro, mint and mustard seeds.

What to buy

  • A fragment of a traffic light with Ampelman – a little man in a hat (sold in souvenir shops).
  • A piece of the Berlin Wall on a magnet.
  • A bottle (and more than one) of fragrant schnapps.
  • Farm sausages.
  • Vintage postcards at the flea market at Boxhagener Platz.

WHERE TO GO

  • Go to the exhibition in the museum complex Martin-Gropius-Bau.
  • Climb the artificial Teufelsberg mountain from the wreckage of more than 400 thousand buildings destroyed in Berlin during World War II.
  • Dance at an open-air tech party at Kater Blau Club.
  • Художественно выпить в баре Lang при отеле Waldorf Astoria Berlin, названном в честь легендарного кинорежиссера Фрица Ланга.