Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Of Berlin: In which much gluhwein is consumed

Why would one go to such a Northerly city as Berlin at this time of year? Well, for one, we were going south. But not by enough, and it was still bitterly cold and dark for a fair bit of our time there. The real is that The Lovely Katherine had to go there for work anyway. But another possible reason is that Christmas Markets are a big deal in Germany. Call it a nice coincidence. You couldn't turn around without finding someone selling wooden nativities or fragrant candles or (thankfully) gluhwein. Your correspondent, to be perfectly honest, is not a big fan of mulled wine. But, in this part of Europe, it's consumed less for pleasure than out of necessity, because you're out in the freezing cold looking at the little lighted stalls full of sterling silver jewelry and you need a drink but it's too cold for beer. (Believe us, we also tried cold beer. It was good, but not ideal.)

One interesting feature you would never find in the US is the street-food dish deposit. Whether for a bowl of soup or a mug of mulled wine, food was served in actual dishes, not styrofoam. Of course, they want their dish back, so you have to pay a couple euros deposit on the dish. And yet then again, each Christmas market had its own special design of mulled wine mug. Designs ranged from colorful if somewhat over-the-top "Christmas Market 2009" souvenir mugs that one could simply keep rather than get the deposit back, to hideous eyesores that you would have to pay a sane person to keep. Sadly, the staff photographer failed to capture any photos of these hideous mugs in their natural environment.

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