And so I have found myself in Berlin, home to a never ending list of amazing eateries, drinkeries, and shopperies. With every turn the cobblestoned roads take, I have found a wealth of graffiti laden walls, glittering vintage stores, beanie-tipped
people, and smells and sounds that paint pretty pictures even when your eyes are closed. Europe in winter is of course freezing and the weather, although to some may be drab and dreary, creates the perfect canvas for the towering shadows of a darker history.
The food is utterly amazing with large enclaves of multiculturalism bringing fares from all over the world with many little holes in the walls, such as "W" Der-Imbiss serving authentic Indian street food, such as Dosas and Tali. Long time resident Canadian Gordon W, has been feeding Berliners for over 10 years. His eatery is all of 50 sqm including the kitchen. Gordon clad in one of his many Hawaiian shirts, straw hat and his three "authentic" Indian street chefs whiz up vegan (and optional Salmon) delights including to-die-for filled Dosas (fermented lentil and rice flour pancakes). The Vegan movement has become a fairly recent phenomenon in Berlin and Vegan Bio Stores and restaurants becoming more and more popular.
However, traveling can be a challenge when one is taken out of their comfort zone, particularly when suffering from a digestive disease. Although tough, it certainly is achievable to steer clear of grains, starches, lactose and refined sugar (even if I have to employ a professional hand slapper).
The first challenge was to stock my little knee-high fridge with ingredients that in Australia are basic, but here have been slightly harder to attain. My absolute musts were gelatin (for delicious grape jelly), bicarbonate soda (Natron), coconut flour (for pancakes, an absolute essential) and of course organic fruits and vegetables. I found the Bio Laden (Bio Stores) conveniently placed all over Berlin provide for all my needs, because who doesn't need a pancake to start the day.
Despite the emerging trend (it really is just in the embryonic stage) of organic and bio-sustainable products, not all of the “Bio Stores” are as biodynamic as they would have you believe. For example, yogurt in Germany is not commonly made with pro-biotic bacteria (as it usually is in Australia). It is simply just thickened and sweetened. Pro-biotics in general are not yet really even recognized as an essential dietary supplement, with the medical professionals at the “just thinking about taking baby steps towards research into the area”. After much adventuring and exploring I did manage to find some pro-biotics in one of the Homeopathec Apotheke’s (what we know as a chemist), of which there are many. Funnily enough Germany is pretty big on homeopathic remedies.
Here is one of my favourite recipes from the cookbook, tweaked to be totally dairy free.
Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F 1 lb/500 g chicken mince 1 clove garlic ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp cracked black pepper ¼ tsp turmeric 1 or 2 carrots – sliced into 3 mm thick round slices
1 small eggplant – sliced into 5 mm thick round slices 2 packed cups of spinach 1 small head of cauliflower – stemm cut out and roughly chopped ⅓ cup coconut cream/or coconut yogurt 1 tsp salt ½ tsp cracked black pepper ½ tsp nutmeg 1 cup tomato puree 1 large zucchini – sliced into 5 mm thick slices lengthwise
- Place the mince into a large skillet with some olive oil, the garlic, salt, turmeric and pepper and fry on medium for around 15 minutes until the meat is cooked and most of the moisture has dissipated.
- Set aside.
- Place the carrots, spinach and cauliflower into a large pot with about 1 cup of water and steam with the lid on until the cauliflower is soft.
- Drain and separate the vegetables.
- In a bowl mash the cauliflower with the coconut cream/yogurt salt and pepper until smooth.
- In a medium sized loaf tin spread the tomato puree onto the bottom of the tin.
- Top with the meat first, then evenly place the sliced, uncooked eggplant over the top and then the cooked carrots.
- Then place the uncooked zucchini slices on top.
- Then place the spinach on top and evenly distribute the mashed cauliflower over the top.
- Sprinkle with the nutmeg.
- Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the top begins to brown.