“Masculine and Spicy, Feminine and Sensual: Paris, Berlin, New York, Normandy”
Before leaving for Berlin, I saw a video on the Internet titled “Best of the Wurst.” This
Korean American woman, Grace Lee, went to Berlin to discover the city through its ‘ultimate’ snack food — “Currywurst.” Currywurst is a hot pork sausage seasoned with curry sauce sold on the streets of Berlin.
Currywurst became symbolic of Berlin, like the Arc de Triomphe and its circular flow represents Paris. You understand…this is purely from my own perspective.
Sure, I tasted it. No trip to Berlin is complete without at least SOME sausage. On the sixth floor of the “KaDeWe” department store in the Charlottenburg – Wilmersdorf district where you can find delicacies of all sorts and can eat and drink at any one of the ‘bars,’ sausage takes up a majority share of the floor-selling space, in total contrast to how delicate pastries overwhelm a Paris gourmet market.
Berlin is both masculine and spicy like its Wurst. I understand now why Gay friends are so attached to the city, where it left me confused like many women I know who joke about how we ‘can’t live with them and can’t live without them.’ (Men, that is.)
The city isn’t pretty, but it is handsome. The new architecture is stunning, made of steel and glass while what is left of the old is bold. The streets and avenues are wide and intimidating, not intimate and personal. The people are friendly and open, but not seductive.
Everyone is writing about Berlin’s art scene as in Adam Fisher’s International Herald Tribune article from this past weekend. The art galleries are springing up like wildflowers and young artists are flocking there to express themselves, if not to become recognized. It’s cheap enough to feed these starving young artists and to make tourism attractive, but how long will that last as it gentrifies and comes of age?
Bad news from New York put a cloud over the bright sunny skies of Berlin on Thursday as my daughter and I learned that the co-op board at the West Village building where we have applied to purchase an apartment found they decided we weren’t worth the risk of accepting us as new owners. The reason? They have no obligation to disclose, in spite of the fact we bared every detail of our financial lives to these strangers who hold our fate. (Not soon enought, there is a bill before the city at present for “Fair and Prompt Co-op Disclosure” that has broad support — thank goodness!) Nonetheless, we have our suspicions, mostly related to our foreign basis — “if the maintenance were not paid, they would have no way of going after your French assets,” a friend living in the building explained.
Before leaving Berlin, we recontacted our real estate agent in New York to pursue another apartment. In anticipation of the purchase, the mortgage having been taken in France, was transferred to dollars, and with the U.S. dollar becoming weaker, there is now no choice but to purchase Stateside, given that to transfer it back to euros would suffer a huge loss. Oy vay! Real estate in France is so much safer a bet! And so is the euro!
The sunny spring happily set foot in France upon re-entry. It seems like it only took 24 hours for the trees to all turn a bright green thick with leaves and we could shed our wool coats and turtleneck sweaters. A day trip to dine at the table on rue Tatin in the little town of Louviers in Normandy with chef and author Susan Herrmann Loomis and 10 other gourmands was in total contrast to the worst of the wurst in Berlin.
Susan is one of France’s finest American chefs, currently working on her ninth cookbook (I hear it’s going to be a ‘nutty’ one!) and makes both cooking and eating a completely satisfying sensual pleasure. The sun poured in on the garden in front of her half-timbered Norman house that dates as far back as 10th-century while we tasted and drank delicacies she had ferreted out from local producers and suppliers.
By the end of the day, we ‘rolled’ back to Paris like stuffed Berlin sausages, and recognized how the small group of strangers had become very close friends after sharing in such a ‘feminine’ French day.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.P.S. May is the month of holidays beginning with Thursday, May 1st. So, plan your time in Paris accordingly and do what the French do: “Faire le Pont” — bridge the holiday to the weekend to make for a long weekend of French pleasure. I’ll be in Normandy next weekend, too, exploring the battlegrounds of World War II and the beaches and beyond. Stay tuned.