Having moved here just over a week ago, we've had a week full of many firsts: our first time biking in Berlin (it was snowing), learning how to ride the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn, getting our German phone numbers set up (deceptively convoluted and difficult), figuring out how to apply for apartments, etc. But today I had my favorite first so far and that was going to the Turkish market on Maybachufer in Kreuzberg.
My friend Mandie who is from the states and has lived here for eight years invited me to check it out this afternoon and it was amazing. Great-looking and affordable produce, fresh poultry and eggs, piles of Greek olives and cheeses, beautiful spices, fresh juice, hot coffee, Turkish breads, and delicious lunch like this köfte, pictured above. It was like an epic Farmer's Market in another country... because it was.
In addition to food, there were all sorts of wares, like fabrics, ribbon, jewelry, buttons, clothes, shoes, handmade leather goods, sunglasses, and even a knife guy.
Mandie wanted to make sure we made a stop at the local Halal butcher shop that has been serving the Turkish Muslim community in the Kreuzberg area for many, many years. It was called Fleischerei Pazar Kasabi and there I bought one kilo of hackfleisch which is what they call ground meat here (lovely word, I know). You can get different kinds of hackfleisch, but I'm learning that typically they sell rind which is just beef cattle, or you can get a pork and beef blend called vermischen which is quite tasty. With the butcher, or kasap in Turkish, in his white coat and the interior covered in sterile, white tile the small space felt very old-school.
And the giant, disfigured butcher block in the corner used for hacking up animal parts has clearly seen many years of use, old and new grooves and nicks full of old and new dried blood. This is probably super creepy to some, but I think it's charming and awesome. I see a trade that has stood the test of time, is important to the culture, and demands respect. It's practically medieval. That block of wood has probably been around longer than I have been alive. And the cell phone sitting on it is certainly a funny juxtaposition, or ominously symbolic: modern technology balancing atop a vestige of the irreplaceable usefulness of simple crude tools. Or maybe there's nothing poetic about it and he's simply reeling from the frustration that is getting a German phone number and has finally reached his tipping point.