Posted on Nov 23, 2012 in Berlin | 2 comments

Another random drawing

Morning charcoal drawing.

Being back in Germany sometimes brings up memories from my childhood. Not surprisingly, food tends to be involved, other times words that have changed or disappeared, or memories of stories, sounds, architecture, or pictures.

Of course memory is selective, and inventive. We create our own stories that we can turn into memories. The visuals of the East-German born artist Neo Rauch, for example, remind me of illustrations in old children’s books I used to read. I think my perception of recognition is triggered by this artist’s use of form and colour palette, but the paintings show dream-like scenes from his own imagination, not an idealized childhood.

A new word I learned this week, while listening to the radio, is “Flitzer Blitzer”. I think it means a traffic camera or a policeman taking your picture with a flash (Blitz) as you speed by (flitzen) so they can mail you a ticket.

And again on the radio, it was announced that a WWII bomb from an air raid had to be diffused somewhere in the vicinity of Berlin. 800 people had to leave their homes and wait it out. It took just over half a day; they announced it in the morning and later in the afternoon they gave the all-clear for people to return to their homes. This kind of event is a reminder of a more distant time that I never experienced, while the Soviet-style buildings around Alexanderplatz and other areas of former East Berlin are reminders of events that happened in my lifetime.

Here are other examples of memory-triggers:

Chocolate covered marshmallows, German style

These tennis-ball size chocolate-covered marshmallows are entirely artificial, but I loved them as a child. They used to be called “Negerkuss” from “tête de négre” in French. No need to translate, as it’s racist. But when I grew up, that awareness had not entered my brain. They are now called “Schokokuss” (chocolate kiss). It says on this 12-pack that they have 95 calories each. So I could eat the whole dozen and still have calories left in my daily average calorie intake for a sandwich. Of course, if you eat more than two of these a day, it doesn’t feel so good, as I found out yesterday.

Brötchen or Schrippen

The one food you can usually find in Germany in abundance and variety is bread. Bakeries are usually open for a few hours on Sunday mornings so that Germans can get their fresh bread. I have great memories of “Brötchen” (buns) which are called “Schrippen” in Berlin, as I have just learned. I have been waking up early here and going for a walk around the neighbourhood most mornings, and usually there is a bakery along my path.

German donut

This glazed or sugar-sprinkled, jelly-filled German donut is called “Berliner” in many parts of Germany, but not in Berlin. Here they call it “Pfannkuchen” (pancake).

Advent calendar

Advent calendars are a German tradition. We now see them in Canada in the grocery stores, but there is usually only one kind containing waxy chocolate-flavoured objects. The odd deli has German chocolate calendars. I am finding out that the advent calendar offerings here in Berlin are huge. I stared at a large display of about 20 different chocolate or candy calendars. All the big candy makers have their own calendar. I found this dark chocolate calendar by Lindt this week, and I just had to buy it. It’s twice as big as my laptop.

Bier-Kalender/Beer Advent calendar

It wouldn’t be a German Christmas without a “Bier-Adventskalender”. They didn’t have this when I was a kid. I told Jeff about it, and he asked me to buy him one. Seriously? I was hoping he’d help me bring back some new clothes when he arrives with a half empty suitcase. Not this.

Hairdresser signage

And completely unrelated, another typographic find in my neighbourhood: a sign for a hairdresser.

Read More