"It's not much but it's ours"

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Thankfully, the snow had stopped falling by the time we were ready to head out for the evening.

HP had treated himself to some new shoes during our visit to KDW. Ones with much much better grips. The upside? We could go out walking without the threat of him going arse over tit every five minutes. The downside? We could go out walking without the joy of me watching him go arse over tit every five minutes.

We decided to check out Kreuzberg, the Turkish quarter of Berlin and home to the store which apparently created the Doner Kebab. The Germans have an interesting relationship with their Turkish immigrants. Not dissimilar to that of the British with the Indians and West Indians who came into do the jobs that no one else wanted to do in the 50’s

These “guest workers” as they were called were given precious little respect and even those born in Germany were not allowed citizenship until a new law was passed in 2001 giving them that right if their parents had been resident for more than eight years. There is still great resentment apparent on both sides and many Germans still seem to echo the sentiments of that cretin Helmut kohl who announced that “Germany is not a nation of immigration”

Despite this, the area of Kreuzberg is buzzing and the length of Oranienstrasse is filled with restaurants of all nationalities not just Turkish as the region becomes an increasingly sought after district in which to live.

After a drink in a small bar called Max & Moritz, we decided that we really needed to stick to our German theme and so we hopped in a cab back to the more swanky area of Charlottenburg where we had eaten the night before. There tucked away on Mommsenstrasse was a small, determinedly old fashioned restaurant called Marjellchen.

The Time Out guide says “ there aren’t many places like this around any more” and they are right. Marjellchen has been around for over twenty years serving up food from Silesia and East Prussia to locals and visitors alike in an oak panelled dining room watched over like a hawk by the amusing owner.

Portions are not simply big, the word “huge” doesn’t even cut it. Nor even “ginormous.” They are of such scale that Homer Simpson would ask for a doggy bag and the main courses would have fed three people let alone one.

Even with an appetite of legendary proportions such as HP’s, we could scarcely finish what was put in front of us and he could not even squeeze down his normally obligatory small dish of ice cream.

The starters should have given us a clue. A smoked eel salad sounded benign enough but came with mounds of bread, a big dollop of horseradish cream alongside the strong tasting fish. My starter comprised half a dozen chicken legs, boned and stuffed before being deep fried and served in a broth. I was left in no doubt that I was not to use a spoon for the broth but it had to be mopped up with bread until every last drop was gone. Both dishes tasted pretty good but were of such size that we were already drawing beads of sweat from our efforts before we even pondered on main courses.

And what main courses. A challenge to all that is human and godly. For HP, Königsberger Klopse. A legendary German dish of cricket ball sized meatballs akin to the British Faggot ( no smirking at the back our American readers ) which came with in a thick sauce to be soaked up in the inevitable boiled potatoes.

For me, another Silesian speciality. Pork chops stuffed with prunes. What I got was a huge slab sliced off the big end of the loin stuffed with a sweet mixture of breadcrumbs and fruit served with potato dumplings and slow cooked cabbage this time the whole smothered in a slightly lurid orangey sauce of no discernable origin.

The taste of both dishes was actually quite good but I am not sure that eating a meal should be this challenging. It certainly should not be something which makes two middle aged men go “eek” in a shamefully girlish way when food is brought to the table. I am red faced to admit it did. Mind you not as red faced as I got when I finally had to capitulate and push the plate away from me with one knoedel still sitting there looking back at me contemptuously. HP fared a little better but, when they cleared our plates away with a look of horror that we had not licked them clean and offered dessert, we both began to look a bit green in the gills and asked for the bill.

The journey home in the cab was a little interesting as each bump brought forth reminders of our meal and, when we got back to the hotel, let’s just say it was a 150mgs Zantac moment. My first ever. I am not sure that is a sign of age or the sheer scale of what had gone before.

At EU100 including service and a bottle of Dornfelder which apparently is grape although it sounds like a threat, this was quite the most frightening meal I have had in a very long time.
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