A different kind of shopping experience.

The Galaries Lafayette in Paris are worth a visit even when you’re not interested in their goods as the mere architecture of this holy grail of shopping is amazing, Belle Époque splendour of the finest sort—the cupola alone is a sight and made into a very bad movie with Romy Schneider and Michel Ronet which I implore you to never watch, but I digress. The Galeries Lafayette in Berlin, however, are not, not even when you’re interested in any of their goods. And if I hadn’t needed Choderlos de Laclos’ Liaisons Dangereuses La Pléiade edition from its French book section so very badly, I never would have made into that area of Berlin. On my way back home, waiting for traffic to give me a slight chance to cross the street, I glanced to the right, up Behrenstraße, a street of no particular interest, not like Französische Straße, the street I had crossed just before with Berlin’s most prestigious restaurant, the Borchardt, you find yourself dining with Angela Merkel there, but I digress again, anyway, at the end of Behrenstraße, you see a wonderful cathedral from 1773 that looks like a giant pudding, at least to me, a German pudding, some kind of vanilla flavoured panna cotta, not to be confused with anything English like black pudding, can’t stand that one, however traditional, anyway, St. Hedwig’s Cathedral is a gorgeous church, beautifully restored, and once you stand in front of it, and the Hotel de Rome just next to it, every bit as prestigious as Borchardt’s, you suddenly are surrounded by historic grandeur, Berlin’s great palaces of wisdom and entertainment, Humboldt University, its Faculty of Law, and the Staatsoper, the oldest of Berlin’s three opera houses. And truth be told, in the end, I was quite happy with my trip to the Galeries Lafayette.

Frankfurt Tales of Winter and Spring.

I was born here, well, not exactly here, the back entry of the Alte Oper, Frankfurt’s old opera house, but a little up the street, to the right, at the Bürgerhospital in Frankfurt’s Westend, my playground was Holzhausenpark, the former park of the Holzhausen estate, now open for public, now meaning since 1913, just an eighth of the original extent, a tiny leftover, rather Parc Monceau than Central Park, the Holzhausens, like all patricians of the 1800s, the Astors, Vanderbilts and such, have lost their fortune, and their male heirs, all that remains is their moated Wasserschlösschen, a little water castle from 1729, replacing the old castle from the middle ages, I always wanted to own one alike, a pond surrounding one’s house always seemed so appealing to me as a child, jumping in after breakfast in summer, skating on it in winter, but when I look at it now, it has lost most of its appeal, if I were to pick housing today, I’d choose Neuschwanstein, so wonderfully aloof, but that’s another story, anyway, winter doesn’t do anything for Frankfurt, it’s just cold and grey, one has to flee to a gallery, luckily, the Städel has one of my favourite paintings on display, August Macke’s still life of his children’s toys, here at least, in the rooms with the collection’s French impressionists, you can find some spring, it’s not real, just a mirage, but still, it’s properly done, in oils so vivid you can forget about that winter called spring outside.

Life saving chicken soup.

IMG_9076

My mother believes in chicken soup to cure anything. Anything that makes you cough and feel like la dame aux camélias at least, even if your name is neither Marguerite nor Violetta and you have never worn a single camellia in your entire life. Not even in your lapels on Coco Chanel’s birthday. Anyway, in my case, tragically a less romantic one, my mother came to kill the germs that caused my pneumonia – which quite boringly I did not get by kissing a guy while becoming acquainted with enough of his germs to catch such a disease, as Dionne Warwick keeps suggesting, and even more boringly so it’s just a severe case of pneumonia and not tubercolosis, so I still won’t make it to the Magic Mountain (prosaically known as Davos-Dorf) and be able to feel like one of Thomas Mann’s tragically coughing heroes.

But I’ve been digressing, let’s get to the point: my mother came with pigeons that appeared to have led a happy life from her weekly market instead of chickens as she deeply disapproved of the chickens the supermarket had in stock and remembered that the Buddenbrooks always had “Täubchen” when they needed some strengthening, you see my family and I refer a great deal to Thomas Mann’s literary outcomes, one could say on a daily basis, anyway, along with the pigeons she brought multicoloured organic vegetables, green, orange and red for colour and vitamins, in other words red peppers, carrots and leek, she also brought chillies, the ones that set your tongue and throat on fire, bayleaves, olive oil, the slightly bitter one as only bitter olive oil is to be trusted, the rest might be useful to fry French fries in, alright, at McDonald’s or what ever they call these places nowadays, you see, my mother wildly disapproves of junk food, but you might have guessed that by now, anyway, she also brought organic pepper, black and white, to be crushed in absurd quantities into the soup, and vast amounts of French garlic, it’s very important that it is from France, please forget all about the one from China.

I ate it all up. It was very yummy. And indeed, I feel a little better. Just my tongue’s still on fire.

IMG_9081