Only in Berlin
I hope you have all been able to catch some of the coverage on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, either from the links from the previous post or on television. Certainly no shortage of the latter.
For those of you planning a trip to Berlin, if you like museums, you’re in luck. There are almost 200 in Berlin, satisfying your interests in art, culture, history and/or religion, among other curiosities. Below you’ll see just a few highlights from my short visit to the city, plus one museum that is a must, if only for the fact that you won’t find it anywhere else in the world other than Berlin. Any guesses?
Jüdisches Museum Berlin (Museum of German-Jewish History) – a fascinating and thought-provoking museum open since 2001, worth going to just for the building itself. Truly an architectural masterpiece, Daniel Libeskind is responsible for what is now one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. A zinc-paneled building is covered in broken fragments and straight lines, “voids” and empty spaces. The motives behind the design raise many questions that remain unanswered, as Libeskind aimed to provoke reflection and individual interpretation. One thing is undisputed – the museum is rich in symbolism inside and out, and provides an amazing education on German-Jewish history, going all the way back to the Middle Ages. I highly recommend it for people of all ages, whether German or not, and whether Jewish or not.
* Temporary exhibit at the Jüdisches Museum Berlin: Koscher & Co – an exhaustive exhibit about food and religion going on until February 28, 2010. Make sure you get a paper spoon that you can use to collect recipes at the exit of each room. A fabulous exhibit touching many subjects including matzoh production, koshering meat and kosher food around the world.
Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie – you’re sure to join the crowds taking pictures of the “soldiers” at the makeshift guardhouse, at what was once the notorious crossing between East and West Berlin. The museum tells the story of the Berlin Wall and documents many of the escapes to the West using a creative variety of strategies. An excellent addition to your visit to this important spot in the city.
Pergamonmuseum – one of the excellent museums on Museum Island made up of 4 parts: Ägyptisches (Egyptian), Vorderasiatisches (Ancient Near East), Islamische Kunst (Islamic Art) and Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities). Don’t miss the exhibit on ancient coins in the latter, one of my personal favorites.
Neues Museum – also on Museum Island, this museum reopened to the public in October 2009 after massive reconstruction. It was on the top of my family’s list to visit, especially for the iconic bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, which is causing quite the buzz in Berlin. However, all I can share is a piece of advice- buy your tickets in advance and reserve a time slot. That’s how you’ll get access to this overly-popular museum, which I am sure is well worth the extra effort.
And now, last but not least, this one deserves a drumroll… Berlin’s one and only Deutsches Currywurst Museum. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the city has a museum devoted to this sausage with a loyal following. Stands across the city serve up this specialty, a white sausage kicked up a notch with tomato sauce and a sprinkling of curry powder. Head to the museum for everything you’d ever want to know (and much much more) about this German wurst. Has anyone already visited the museum? Any fans of the famous Currywurst out there?
If you want to try to recreate the original and give it a go at home, here’s a recipe they offer at the museum:
Currywurst Recipe from the Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin
for the sauce:
350 ml (12 fl. oz) water
3 heaping tsp curry powder
2 tsp Sambal Oelek (red chili paste)
200 grams tomato paste
1 tsp apple/cider vinegar
2 heaping tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika powder
1 pinch salt
500 ml (17 fl. oz) tomato ketchup
Heat the water in a pan. Add sugar, curry powder, paprika powder, salt, chili paste and tomato paste, and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in tomato ketchup and vinegar, then bring to the boil once more.
for the Currywurst:
Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add original Berlin Currywurst (with or without skin) and fry on all sides. Take out the sausages and cut them into bite-size pieces. Arrange on a plate together with the sauce and sprinkle with curry powder to taste.