Friedelstraße; the epicentre of Kreuzkölln’s growing Bobo population. Friday night was balmy, almost tropical. I had maybe had my heart broken, but also been blessed by a cross-Atlantic visit from another lifetime, that I spent in NYC.
The two of us (the friend, not the heartbreaker) locked our bikes up near the canal and scored one of the outdoor tables at the Vietnamese/Laotian cutie Chez Dang (Friedelstraße 31). We ordered a glass noodle salad for a starter. As we first tucked into it, it was tangy and sweet, then, a few seconds later our pallets were on fire. And water has nothing on that kind of heat. I ordered the Curcuma Curry Crepes which were marked as vegan and unbelievable tasty.
The wait staff were sweet, the setting a tad yuppie, but I’ll be back.
After reading Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline, I’ve been feeling really ill at ease regarding my own over-consumption of clothes and shoes (well, I have made a vow not to buy ANYTHING new in those categories this year 2013, I’ve already fucked up twice …), and also the terrible ways clothing is made. Terrible for the people making it, and terrible for the planet.
Even the expensive (Swedish) brands that I used to shop; Acne, Sandqvist, Whyred etc, have no or bullshit corporate policies. My €55 Acne t-shirt is designed in Stockholm, made in China. Something is very wrong with that picture. It means that I’m a totally fooled sucker who’s paid about €50 for a little logo spelling out the name of a skin-condition I have suffered from. The same t-shirt, made in China and with the same shitty serger seams, with a label displaying a capital H and a capital M could have set me back only €5. But somehow that label doesn’t make me feel cool or in or above.
There are some companies though, that do take some sort of responsibility and do pay living, not minimum wages. And who also supports sustainability and encourage mending and caring for, instead of getting new stuff all the time.
Those are the brands I will support in 2014 when I will allow myself to shop again.
One of them is Dutch Kings of Indigo. Another is Swedish Nudie Jeans.
My backache has been crippling, and preventing me from engaging in my favorite past-time/life support device/therapy: YOGA!
I started reading Benjamin Lorr’s competitive yoga odyssey Hell-Bent, which chronicles his experiences with Bikram, extreme backbending and yoga championships.
I suddenly realized that there’s no Down Dog in Bikram, and therefore also no stepping from Down dog into Warriors etc, the type of movements that were hurting my back the most. The lower back simply has to round when performing that move, and it doesn’t help however much I use my abs when doing it.
Enter Bikram Box (Boxhagenerstr. 76-78), a new (ish) Friedrichshain hot yoga space and there €15 for 10 days deal.
I did my first Bikram class in 10 years and enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. The teacher was a fellow Swede, much nicer than the army boot camp lady I remembered from the Bikram Studio in Brooklyn, where I felt delirious and puke-y tumbling out into the snow after experiencing the 90 minutes hard-core stretching in 40 plus degree heat for the first time.
I’m gonna interpret this as a sign that my life is way less toxic now, then it was then. And that I’m in better shape at 40 than I was at 29.
Since the humble beginnings in a rag tag basement space seating about 15 people on bobo Kollwitzstraße, Lucky Leek (Kollwitzstraße 54) has moved up in the world, and up the street, to a very grown-up bi-level space, decked out in dark wood, earthy tones and a cello (!?) in the window.
I find the interior decoration kind of bland. It reminds me of a three star hotel restaurant from 1994.
But the staff is very friendly (and kind of cute in that skinny indie rock boy way), my friend’s slightly psycho dog was still welcome, and they have a great ale on tap. That beer went down like water. Spring always makes me thirsty.
The culinary offerings are just as creative and beautiful as I remembered them. The carrot/tomato soup proved to me a great combo, the tartness of the tomato balancing the sweetness of the carrot nicely.
For a main I got the seitan steak with beet balls and tempura pear. Nice palette and great mix of textures.
I’m really gonna try La Mano Verde already, but after that, when I feel flush again, I’ll be coming back here again. To the auspicious onion.
My friend Melisa lent me this book, Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline
and it’s truly a horror story. How the fuck are we all so totally fooled?
I, myself, has many times thoughtlessly complained about the ‘insanely high prices’ of basic t-shirts and leggings at American Apparel. Because I’ve gotten used to paying as much for a t-shirt as I do for a large soy latte. And €20 for a flimsy summer dress. Not pausing to think how the hell that garment can be so inexpensive.
The book states that the average American (I’m pretty sure that the average Berliner or Swede isn’t much better) buys 68 pieces of clothing a year! That’s almost 6 a month, 1, 5 a week!
OK, so I’m pretty old my Tumblr standards, but I remember my childhood quite clearly. How we would go shopping for new clothes twice a year; in the spring and fall. Springtime, if we were lucky, would entail a new pair of clogs or sandals, a t-shirt and maybe a dress. Autumn might mean a new winter-coat if the old one had been outgrown or really wasn’t fixable by mom’s sewing machine.
I’m speaking about a middle class family in Northern Sweden now, in the late eighties/early nineties. When shopping wasn’t a way to kill precious time, and people didn’t buy polyester tops to wear at one party and never again.
Since I’m still an addict, I may drag myself over to Mauer Markt today for some second hand bargains …
There’s finally some warmth in the air, so biking over the Warschauer Bridge without feeling chilled to the bone left me a bit euphoric.
So I decided to take a peak around the new Veganz. Maybe it was my elated mood, but this store seems bigger than the one in Prenzlauer Berg. I bought a Zitrus/Orange Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.
This stuff smells awesome and is vegan, non-toxic and organic. And it lasts forever.
The nice girl working the register told me that in May the upstairs space will become a vegan shoe store (hopefully with more stylish footwear than the granola-y Avesu) and an Italian vegan restaurant.
Afterwards I biked over to Vöner (Boxhagener Strasse 56), a vegetarian Döner joint (They even have a spinning lump of seitan that they shave to order) and wolfed down a always satisfying Vöner plate with fries and salad (€5.50) while reading an article in Der Spiegel about what a scam free range eggs are. Those poor hens suffer their whole life, just like all the other animals we abuse in the name of the holy protein.
The Friedrichshain Veganz (Warshauer Strasse 33) has just opened! On the website the company announces all vegan supermarkets are soon opening in Vienna and Leipzig as well. The plant-eaters are taking over. Starbucks, watch out!!
A little while ago a friend of mine told me how upsetting it was to find out that a friend of hers hangs around people who votes for Sverigedemokraterna, a disgusting Nationalist party in Sweden. She asked me for advice with the words: You’re still friends with me even though I’m not vegan.
The sad truth is that most of my friends aren’t vegan. Most of them aren’t even vegetarians. I think that eating meat should be illegal, a crime. I don’t allow meat in my house. I get upset when people show up to my yoga classes in fur (People, get it together!!! Yoga and fur?!). The days when I would feel OK munching on a salad in a steakhouse are long gone.
But if I would be upset every time a friend ordered a cheese sandwich or ate an egg-containing cake in my presence, or told me about the awesome tuna sushi they had the other night, I would be quite lonely. But I often feel pretty upset.
To me every animal is Tiger, my French Bulldog and the most amazing creature in the whole wide world.
What do you guys do?
Last Sunday I wanted to take my friend Rebekka to dinner at Lucky Leek (Kollwitzstraße 54), but, despite having expanded into a space twice the size of the original spot down the street, they were full.
So my friend, down with the snazzy Kollwitz hood, suggested Zula Hummus Café (Husemannstraße 10), an Israeli, and very vegan-friendly spot, proudly serving hummus with all kinds of fixings: a special lemon-y vinaigrette to drizzle over, chopped parsley, home-baked pitas. We also ordered the grilled eggplant with tahini, kick-ass fries and a salad. Oh, and I had a fresh carrot/ginger/apple with emphasis on ginger. I loved the kick and the soft burn.
Place is small, furnished with a few rustic wooden tables and candles, the food is inexpensive, simple and totally delicious.
I can’t wait to go back.
P.S It’s snowing in Berlin again. Easter Friday …
I stayed at a vegan restaurant/guesthouse called Bean Me Up Soy Station (many people heard beat me up instead …). Sometimes monkeys frolicked in the palm trees above, while lizards played at my flip-flop feet. Tempeh and tofu are not all that common in India. Here they’ve got it, and also soy milk for my morning lattes!
I got violently ill my last night in Goa. I choose to believe it was not due to my last meal at Bean me up, that it was the Dahl or pineapple juice on the beach instead.
I spent two weeks in Pondicherry, in Tamil Nadu, India. It’s like an Asian New Orleans on the beach. This former French colony still retains some colonial charms in the form of balconies and cobblestone streets. But mostly it’s India; a charming, noisy chaos of honking Rickshaws, cows with painted horns, death-defying scooters and motorbikes, rainbow colors, wafting trails of incense, pitiful puppy faces (that broke my heart), magnificent temples devoted to Shiva, the creator AND destroyer, and an abundance of MEAT-FREE food. The South Indian Thali at Surguru, Misson Street Pondicherry. Perfect with a fresh lime soda. 100 rupees and they keep giving you more and more rice and chutneys …
Buffet lunch for 150 rupees (about €2) at Aurolec. Beautiful setting, great food with brown rice instead of basmati.
Delicious steamed vegetarian momos at Momo’s Café in Kallapalayam, a cute village in between Pondy and Auroville. A plate costs 100 INR but don’t be in a hurry …
Coconut water the way it was intended.
One meter long Masala Dosa, also at Surguru. 60 rupees or so. The South Indian crepe is made from fermented rice and filled sith spicy potatoes.
Energy Home is a raw food restaurant/health food shop run by surly but efficient Indians. Pictured is a mini meal, served with a green juice it sets you back 55 rupees. This place rocks and rules. Barefoot dining, fresh juices, incredible sweets and lots of hippies.
At Lakshmi Veg in Mumbai, locals and tourists alike file in through the open doors to a space that looks like a school cafeteria from the fifties in muted earth colors and vinyl chairs. But the thali plate from Tuesday still has me drooling and dreaming …
I need Paschimottanasana to calm me down right now.
Tomorrow I board a plane to Mumbai. I’m very excited. It’s been a long time since I last went to India. I can vaguely remember the smells and the firework of color.
I will hopefully eat loads of amazing vegan food, although I have heard that vegan food can be scarce in India, due to the holy cow milk put in everything.
But in Goa I’ll be staying at a vegan restaurant/guest house. More on that later!