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Eating in Berlin

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You know me. I like my food. It’s very important to me.

I must admit, Berlin food and I did not get along. In fact, it’s probably the biggest factor in me not liking it there so much.

Berlin and Frankfurt are very, very different creatures. In Frankfurt, people often have great jobs and eat out at least once a week, so they demand a lot of good food. Team this with Frankfurt being a pretty small town and you have a recipe for foodie heaven where you have loads of food options on your doorstep.

In Berlin people seem to be paid much less. Rent is very cheap. The food is also very cheap (about 5 euros for a dinner). People just don’t seem to eat out as much. Also, Berlin is very, very big. So with this you have restaurants dotted around the city, but not all huddled together in clumps like in Frankfurt.

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One downside to traveling is that you can’t often carry on the food habits you’d have normally. For me, it’s important that I don’t eat too much wheat because it causes a nasty rash next to my nose. For the boyfriend (and myself when we are together) it means finding vegetarian food. I keep finding myself compromising (especially at breakfast when there’s a buffet with meat, wheat and cheese) and just eating some bread. I can eat (and drink!!) a little, but I did come back from this long weekend with a small mountain range on my face.

I did make a list of lots of gluten free restaurants but with Berlin being so big, it would have taken us nearly an hour to get to any of those places from where we were, and we just assumed there would be good places to eat at all over the city.

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One wheat-ness I did feel happy having was this beer from Bamberg. It’s smoked, and tastes absolutely wonderful. If you ever happen to be in a place that has lots of different beers, do look out for it – it’s calledĀ “Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier“.

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Here’s a list of the places we ate at (all vegetarian/veggie friendly):

Arabic Karun

Sahara SudaneseĀ 

Yam Yam Korean

I used this really awesome blog for gluten free recommendations in Berlin…but sadly didn’t get round to visiting a single one.

If you’re gluten free or vegetarian…or have any other challenging eating situation, I’d love to hear any tips you have for traveling and staying away from the things you shouldn’t eat, as well as surviving when there’s nothing that fits your diet.

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Friday Letters 11/10/13

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Dear Autumn food, keep it up. You’re doing a great job. Especially you, Butternut Squash. Excellent soups.

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Dear Germany, I may get angry at your crappy graffiti, but I do love your massive art projects that we can see everywhere. It’s like a treasure hunt to try and find them.

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Dear German trains, why do you attach a carriage when none of the doors work? What’s the point?

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Dear Samsung Note Mobile, your predictive word texts are hilarious. My new favourite thing is typing a word then using the predictive words that come after it to make random sentences. Such fun.

LINKIES!

My fellow Germany blogger Steven went to a SUPER COOL restaurant that has a rollercoaster running through it delivering your food! It reminds me of the sushi restaurants in Japan that would serve you your orders by tiny bullet trains.

A supermarket employee in Japan has been turning the lumps of minced beef into anime characters. The sonic one is my favourite.

After reading this post on breakfast and how it can affect you, I’m thinking of switching up my breakfast habits…I usually have toast with avocado or tomatoes on it. I know, a weird breakfast choice…

I really enjoyed this post from Expat Lingo about what sounds to be a very complicated new building in Hong Kong. It reminded me of this post my friend Stephen at Sparrow and Dove wrote about the escalators in the Frankfurt shopping centre My Zeil.

Some students in America tried to have a racial bake sale – where white men pay the most. I can see what they were trying to do but I’m not sure this was a good idea…

Video of the week is from this German beauty tuber I found. I don’t know what it is about her but I can’t stop watching. She’s just frickin’ adorable. And great for learning German! I watched one of her videos and then ended up spending 60 euros in DM… eep…

Awesome things to do in Japan – EAT!


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When exploring the world, I think one of the things that gets people excited the most is food. Well, maybe that’s just me. Boyfriend and I are going to Turkey soon and the first thing we arranged was to go on a food tour in Istanbul. It’s very important to us!

But when I was in Japan, I had so many interesting and rare food opportunities, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. I spent ages on my computer searching for lots of photos I’d taken of food from Japan and it was so much fun reliving the memories. I guess it’s a good thing I am obsessed with taking photos of food!!

The photo above was taken in Kobe. I’m sure many of you know that Kobe is famous for it’s beef. Japanese people have a very different view on what makes good meat – they much prefer it if there are ribbons of fat going though as they say it makes the meat sweeter. They are really shocked when westerners go to Japan and cut off the fat on their steak, or turn down meat that has a high fat content.

Kobe beef has fat running through it and this makes it EXPENSIVE. I went to Kobe with my colleagues from the junior high school (like a school trip…but for teachers haha) and in the planned itinerary we went to this really expensive Kobe beef restaurant. The lunch alone was 7000yen – around 50 euros. I was ok with this price as I was doing well for money but there was a catch – I had a stinking cold and couldn’t taste a thing. Luckily, at the table where the man was preparing our food, there was a small mountain of wasabi mustard. I decided to take a mouthful of wasabi that opened up my nose, then crammed in a bit of the beef, which I could only taste for a few seconds before my nose closed up again. I was SO sad.

Luckily I lived near to Matsusaka which has very similar beef and so I could try something similar again, but I was just sad that I couldn’t taste my 7000yen lunch!!

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When I was studying in Nagoya, I didn’t make so many friends with the Japanese students at the uni. My closest friends were actually the Korean exchange students. They were all very warm and welcoming, they spoke very good Japanese so I didn’t miss out linguistically, and they were just very open and wonderful people. One of the closest friends I made there was a girl named “Arumu”. I’ve visited her in Seoul twice now and I am planning on going again next year.

When we were studying together, Arumu had a part time job in a Japanese restaurant. But this wasn’t just any restaurant; it was a Nagoyan speciality eel restaurant. I would go and visit her and she’d show me how to eat it (the meal shown above). First, you eat half of the food in the top left bowl. It’s basically rice with grilled eel and sauce. Then, once you’ve eaten half, you pour green tea from the tea pot into the rice and eel and eat the rest with a spoon. It’s SUPER yummy.

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Towards the end of my working life in Japan, the city invited me to speak at a formal event with some government officials. Basically, they wanted to know how to make Japan/my area more appealing to foreigners and I was chosen to speak about the kinds of problems we face on a day to day basis there. I have no idea why such high up government officials were interested in our little city but anyway. It was a huge deal.

After the event, there was a buffet for us all. It was the most lavish buffet I have ever seen; they really went to town. I hovered over the plate in the photo above. I knew that I didn’t like the things in the shells (sazae) because they get really bitter if you eat the tip and I never know how much to bite off to avoid hitting that point. So I stuck to the yellow meat to the left.

I put two or so pieces on my plate then turned away from the table to eat a bite of one. I came face to face with the minister for tourism. He asked me if I knew what it was that I was eating. I replied that it was pretty chewy so perhaps it was some kind of squid…but he replied saying that it was shark meat. I dropped the piece I had on my chopsticks and listened as he told me how Japanese fishermen often partake in cutting the fins off of sharks and then throwing them back in the water to die a slow death, and how we shouldn’t support that. I didn’t eat any more of the shark after that…(it wasn’t that tasty anyway).

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**For some reason the penis hot dog photo doesn’t show up…have this photo of me talking to tv cameras about penises.

You’d be forgiven if you thought there was something a little rude about that sausage. That’s because it’s a penis sausage. No, it doesn’t contain penis (to my knowledge) but I ate it at the fertility festival in a town near to where I studied in Japan. The festival started with a parade of massive wooden penises, where I (as one of the few white people in the crowd) was invited to kiss the penis for “good luck” (translation: great headlines – “FOREIGNER LOVES PENIS”.. yes I was on the news that day). Then we made our way around the festival stalls where they were selling phallic foods like bananas and sausages, as well as wooden penises of our own to take home.

Although it was way too crowded and I wouldn’t go again, it was certainly an experience I won’t forget!

Now a question for you! What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?

 

Frankfurt/Nintendo Q&A

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Recently I have had an increase in the amount of people finding me on Facebook/Linkedin to ask me questions about working for Nintendo and living in Frankfurt. I write this blog because I want to help people, and while I don’t mind the odd person contacting me, I would prefer it if people used the things on my blog before going out to find me.

I have decided to write a post with all the most common questions I get asked, so hopefully this will get found before people click on the “send message” button!!

How do I get a job at Nintendo of Europe?

Have a look at this site for all the latest positions available and apply through that site. As much as I’d love to help everyone who applies, I actually can’t and it’s not fair if I do. Plus the fact I’m not really comfortable talking about work related things to people who randomly find me on the net. I’m sorry. Nintendo is a normal work place and so you should just treat this application as you would any other regular job out there.

What’s it like living in Germany?

It’s probably one of the best places to be in Europe right now. It’s pretty safe, clean and financially secure. German people are funny and interesting to observe and live amongst. It’s easy to find gluten free products, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place that’s more open to vegetarians and vegans. Organic is a complete way of life here and it’s easy to live a healthy life.

But aren’t the taxes super high there? Can I live a good life there?

Well, yes. I think I pay something like 45% in taxes (I may be wrong in that). I know working as an English teacher here is often a financially tough career, but most company workers are paid enough for the net salary to be enough to live well in Frankfurt. Some things are much cheaper here, like I don’t pay much on rent because I live in a great flatshare, and I don’t find food to be that expensive here. German supermarkets have fewer offers than, for example, British supermarkets. Don’t expect to fill your trolley with “buy one get one free” offers. But the overall price of food does tend to be cheaper. I tend to avoid the main supermarket, Rewe, and shop at Indian, Chinese and Turkish shops instead.

Eating out can get expensive. You can expect to pay around 10 euros for a meal, a beer is about 3 euros (here is a typical German restaurant’s menu) but soft drinks like coke can be the expensive part of the meal.

Mobile phone contracts vary greatly in price. I pay quite a lot for mine (around 50 a month) but asking around, most people pay much less than that for their smart phones. A lot of people use pay-as-you-go phones, as well. Check out this site for a list of mobile/cell phone companies.

The company has offered me a ___________ salary/What salary should I ask for?

I can’t really talk much about this. Luckily, Toytown forum has lots of advice!

Can I get home comforts easily?

Well, it depends what you want. I can get pretty much anything I crave from Japan (though not the magazines and books any more since the Japanese book shop closed). There are various Japanese and Chinese supermarkets around that can sell you anything from Calpis to natto. There are also a LOT of great Japanese restaurants around. For British things, British sauces and branded food items can be found in the department stores Galeria and Karstadt. Aldi also does “British week” sometimes, too. There are a lot of American expats here and you can find lots of American foods in the Rewe in the basement of My Zeil.

German clothes shopping is pretty crappy, but we have H&M, Zara and Primark here. ASOS.com has free international delivery so I use that most of the time.

From my recent messages, these seem to be all the most common questions. If I haven’t answered something that you want to know, check out Toytown for lots and lots of German life info, or just pop the question in the comments of this post.

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