A near daily ritual is that Michael gets up early and buys fresh rolls (Brötchen; Schrippen) – that are sold out by 8.15 a.m – and we make a picnic lunch.
Then we cycle into town – me to the Goethe Institute and he to the theological library! We cycle along the 17th June street – a long boulevard, named after an uprising in the East on 17 June 1953, with huge Russian monuments and sculptures of generals – but also with a screaming woman in the middle of the street which is very powerful.
We cycle through the Brandenburger Tor. My great grandad, Jakob Julius, used to go through the middle gate on his horse in 19th century at a time when Jews were not allowed to do this at all, only the Prussian generals!
Then we are in the former east and cycle along a similar boulevard – Unter den Linden, though without as many lime blossom trees as there used to be… and past the Humboldt university where my father studied law and where a hundred years earlier my family’s professional thieves stole the contents of the safe at Christmas.
Michael is going to the local bakery next week at 3.30 a.m to bake with them!
As we’re in Berlin for a few weeks and eating lots of delicious bread, I thought I add a few facts about German bread!
i) Germany is a “Bread Paradise”, and 3050 different recipes have been registered by the county’s bakeries at the Central Association of German Bakers.
ii) On average a German eats 87 kilos, 192 pounds, of bread every year.
iii) There are about 50 bakeries to 100,000 people in Germany.
iv)The huge selection of bread is partly down to Germany’s varied climate, which allows all types of crops to thrive, together with the country’s history. Baking different varieties of bread was one of the ways the small princedoms that formerly made up “Germany” carved out an own identity.
v)There is a culture of craftsmanship in German bread making, and bakers must complete a high standard theoretical and hands-on training before becoming a Baeckermeister. Master Baker.
vi)German bread is as much part of the country’s culture as beer and BMW, and across the world has such strong reputation that bakeries supplying bread of a high standard are often called “German bakeries”.
vii) Deutsche Brotkultur not only has its own set of postage stamps, UNESCO has added the country’s bread to its World Heritage List.
viii) Bread is so much a part of Germany’s culture that for many years one of the most popular children’s TV characters was Bernd a talking loaf. “Bernd das Brot” – Bernd the Bread, was a perpetually depressed and thoroughly bad-tempered loaf of bread, but then he “emigrated” to Sweden.