Monday, October 24, 2016

A Podcast

While in Berlin I saw a colleague from Wikipedia met at the Wikimania World Conference in London in 2014 where Sebastian took a photo of me. Now he wanted to make a podcast with me.

Our scheduled meeting was difficult for we blew the first date. I had announced my coming to Berlin early and asked Sebastian whether we could meet at the Mommseneck at Potsdamer Platz for lunch.

Why that place? Whenever I travel I like to eat the local specialities which means in the case of Berlin a hearty cuisine. The dish of my desire was pea soup like mother used to make. In the past the famous place for pea soup was Aschinger, which does not exist anymore. So I looked on the Internet for Berlin and pea soup and found Mommseneck at Potsdamer Platz. In addition to traditional cooking the place offers a good variety of beers.

Sebastian answered my e-mail: That is excellent. What time are we going to meet?

Me: At Mommseneck on September 19 at noon. Is that ok for you?

Sebastian: That is what we are going to do.

Mommseneck at Potsdamer Platz. House of 100 beers.

Theodor Mommsen, a German historian, shown inside on an original Litfaßsäule
I arrived early. It was a beautiful day and I decided to sit outside. In studying Mommseneck's choice of beers I read that they offer Berliner Weiße mit Schuss not only with those classical syrups of raspberry or woodruff but with cherry syrup too. I am always up for an experiment, but the combination of wheat beer and cherry tastes odd.

As time went by and with Sebastian not showing up I still felt thirsty and ordered the classical Berlin white beer with woodruff syrup. Boy, look at the photo!

The real Berliner Weiße mit Schuss brilliant in the sun was served in a beaker
While I was contemplating the drink my green view was suddenly disturbed by an incoming e-mail.

Sebastian: I can't find you. How do I recognize you. I am sitting at Mommseneck on Mommsenstraße. Luckily he had added the number of his cellphone to his mail.

Well, there are two Mommsenecks in Berlin. I had not repeated Potsdamer Platz in my second e-mail and he had not read my first e-mail carefully enough. The waitress told me that this mix-up happens quite frequently. Nevertheless Sebastian and I agreed to meet the next day same hour at the Zur letzten Instanz. Is this name a symbol?

Eventually my pea soup arrived and turned out to be the third disappointment of the day. There were peas alright and al dente as they should be but the taste of the soup was rather exotic with a touch of curry and green pepper. Regrettably the dish did not live up to my memories of Aschinger.

Later somewhat frustrated I explored the surroundings of the pedestrian area around Potsdamer Platz. A place called Lutter & Wegner caught my attention.

Lutter & Wegner at Potsdamer Platz in the former Huth Building
A place of that name had been famous for its illustrious guests both in the 19th century (among other celebrities poet E. T. A. Hoffmann, actor Ludwig Devrient, author Heinrich Heine, composer Carl Maria von Weber, philosopher Friedrich Hegel and Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck) and the Golden Twenties (nota bene Marlene Dietrich and Josephine Baker). For me the place became known by a song from Eduard Künnecke's operetta Die lockende Flamme (The Tempting Flame): Im Keller bei Lutter und Wegner ... (In Lutter and Wegner's wine cellar). At the time of the good old "steam radio" in the 1950s Red Baron had to listen to the aria frequently.

The original traditional restaurant Lutter & Wegner located at Gendarmenmarkt was completely destroyed during the last war. In 1947 black market activities took place in the basement.

Lutter & Wegner at Gendarmenmarkt in 1947 ©Bundesarchiv
Following the Wende Lutter & Wegner opened again at Gendarmenmarkt but at a different site. The other Lutter & Wegner location at Potsdamer Platz is famous too but primarily for its original name: Weinhaus Huth.

Wine House Huth was constructed in 1912 and to accommodate the load of the stored bottles based on a solid steel structure. Therefore it was the only building that survived the complete destruction of the area during the war and stood isolated in the landscape at the time of division into East and West Berlin. I had intended to show you a picture of the solitaire building but all copies that I found are heavily copyright protected. Following the Wende the Huth Building was renovated and integrated into the pedestrian zone of Potsdamer Platz.

Nearby at Leipziger Platz I visited the Mall of Berlin. This is indeed a vast shopping center but simply too big in my opinion.

Look into the Mall of Berlin

Constitution meets commerce.
You walk on articles of our Grundgesetz (Basic Law)

Just opposite the Mall the building of the Bundesrat, Germany's senate

The following day I made it just in time to the Zur letzten Instanz. Sebastian was already seated and I took my usual bench. My problem is that Napoleon was short; therefore the seating surface of the historic bench is too narrow. With respect to lunch I followed the same procedure as last year ordering Kohlroulade with a dark beer Märkischer Landmann.

At Die letzte Instanz with ©Sebastian Wallroth 
While we were eating Sebastian recorded his podcast. Here is the link for those of my readers who understand mumbled German mixed with background noises. By the way the word "penis" was not uttered by me but is, according to Sebastian, the word used most in the German Wikipedia either to vandalize articles or to fill holes in texts.

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