Friday, April 22, 2016

Cookies & Cream: Food as Discovery

Sitting at Cookies and Cream, a Berlin restaurant. One that's still, in these 2016 years, smoke-filled; an intrusion I wasn't expecting, though I certainly didn't expect to not care as much as I do. The lounge in which we sit is filled with fancy clothing and various faces at different levels of decay. 

I'm not sure what the decorative style here is. I speak of personal clothing now. There is the basic cosmopolitan uniform, or variation of it, that everyone in big cities wears—to include me. I may mock or hate this on some level, but I cannot deny my immersion in the lifestyle. 

But I digress. It's the entrance to this restaurant that separates it from others I've been to. You can enter in two ways: from a labyrinth of alleys with pallets and garbage piled high over dried pools of pigeon shit; or through a metal gate that leads through another restaurant's kitchen.

Cryptic, the reason for this. But enjoyable it nonetheless is. The restaurant as something to be found, rather than something to go to. That alone is worth a thought.

We go from the lounge to the table where the food is exquisite. 

Gluttony, though, isn't the point of this essay. [1] The restaurant as discovery is (after enjoying a moment with friends) certainly an important part of any eating experience. One wonders why it's not more often used in other cities. 

I'm not being specific enough here. Let me try harder. There are two main kinds of discovery when it comes to restaurants. The first I can experience anywhere and have received much delight from: it's walking about a city or town and spotting a place hereto unknown to you and deciding to dine there based only on your assessment of the menu or ambience or both. This judgement will then pay off with great food. 
Me slinking through the maze to find the restaurant

The second is what I experienced in Berlin: looking for place in a city block and having to navigate alleys and unlabeled doors and the cries of cooks in random kitchens to find it. 

Oh, I apologize, reader. Discovery is only a minor part of this latter one: journey, then, is the another variable that matters. And a journey this was. Why then does it taste so good, and why is the experience so sublime?

My feeble mind looks and only senses some connection to caveman days where we foraged or hunted food. Something that any business should tap into, even if convenience is the mantra of the day. Then why don't restaurants do this more often? [2] I must be missing something.

Whatever it is, this restaurant, and apparently the city of Berlin, are well aware of that which they have. Check it out sometime. 

[1] Actually, it never has been for me. But I would be lying if I say that my better half's elation at such extravagance was certainly a lift upon my spirits. Such are the risks of love. 

[2] I'm not saying open up a garden and say eat what you can. I'm saying make finding the restaurant something of a challenge. Make people walk some distance to get there.

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