Finding Berlin Creator, Sara Chahrrour, Interview
“Those three consecutive days of 20° and sunshine in fucking March was just God forgetting that he’s still mad about Hitler.” Sara Chahrrour, Finding Berlin
When you read a quote like how can it not warm the cockles of your heart?
From the first shit joke, to the last Hitler reference, when you’ve found your soul mate, you know. And so it happens that we at Eatler have fortunately found our very own literary soul mate in the always entertaining, and never dull Sara Chahrrour. Sara is a writer and the creator of Finding Berlin, a blog about getting to the core of Berlin and what it’s all about, food, travel, lifestyle. She has been hitting the bull’s eye without fail since 2010.
Finding Berlin doesn’t always post about food, but as an institution that has been around for the better part of a decade it is one of the liveliest voices documenting the changes in the city and those changes are almost always accompanied by a little something to eat. Whatever the case, enough of the posts are about food to warrant serious consideration of Sara’s opinions on all the Berlin restaurant shit that is going on around town. She was gracious enough to give us a few minutes of her time to answer some silly questions.
So what is the most important thing you’ve found?
Berlin-wide, the most important thing I found over time is a home. Food-wise, the most important thing I’ve found in Berlin is food that my mother used to make
What is one food trend that needs to go away right now?
The tapas things. What is that? I’m paying for a full meal, maybe divided into a starter and a main. I have no intention of sharing anything, I wouldn’t even want to share food with my own children, ESPECIALLY if I’m paying a premium price. Also, if we’re 4 people and you’re forcing us to share because “this is, like, a tapas thing? It’s really, uh, like, popular in, uh, New York?!”, then make sure the plate has 4 (in words: F O U R) pieces on it. You can’t do that to passive-aggressive Germans.
Cocktail of choice and best hangover remedy?
Bloody Mary. And Bloody Mary.
Favorite street food that needs to take over the streets of Berlin?
With most things, I’d say “please no more street food”. There’s a reason why Tacos, Curries and whatnot are not considered street food here: the ingredients are so cheap in other places that it makes sense to make quick and affordable bites out of them. Here, in Berlin, you can hardly get a good avocado, so every “new street food experiment” will necessarily be an expensive luxury wrapped into a food truck. BUT! One exception: I miss a real Shawarma from Damascus. I know that Al-Dimasqi used to do them, but apparently they closed down and I never got to try them. The Syrian Shawarma is so different. It’s got this tangy, fresh vibe to it, with a lot less bread than the typical Döner or even Dürüm, and with more pickled stuff – and none of that rubbish iceberg lettuce.
Where does Berlin need to go next?
I don’t think Berlin needs to go anywhere. I think we need more comfort food in this city, more stuff that is reliably good but not complex. Like the love of my life, Knödelwirtschaft. Just one or two things on the menu, lots of love, good people, good ingredients. I think Berlin pulls off its naturally homely and sweet atmosphere much better than the whole “let’s be international and for the industrialized Berlin-chic” thing. I want more great plum cakes and strawberry-rhubarb pies.
What fantasy restaurant are you going to own one day?
I have this image of myself handing out grilled cheese sandwiches and good filter coffee from a little booth somewhere on Reichenberger Straße, and maybe a newspaper, for like 4,50 in a combination. It’s just that, and it’s really affordable, and I’ll be this weird old lady wearing a worn out bathing robe and chain smoking, and everyone will just come by for a patriotic American grilled cheese and coffee, and maybe a heartfelt and quirky insult from me.
Favorite meal of the day and why?
I don’t care. Anything over 800 calories in one sitting is my favorite meal.
If you had to choose one, favorite fast food burger or favorite gourmet burger?
Most impressed you’ve ever been in a restaurant?
The first time I ate a beef carpaccio with my parents in a tourist trap next to the Louvre in Paris. My whole family, and we were all adults by that time, were like “hahaha MUSEUM oh no NOT US!!” so of course we went into a restaurant. Here we could see the other tourists queuing for hours, so we could laugh about them and their silly museum activities. We didn’t expect much from the food but I was probably 15 years old and, having no experiences with “gourmet” anything, I thought I’d gone into heaven and came back. The concept of carpaccio was just too much for someone who grew up around heavy Arabic stews and rice and fatty meat.
Anything you want to share?
I went vegan for a while and I’m still advocating veganism. It was hard for me to pull off because yogurt is life, but while I was researching I really started to understand how this world has industrialized the slaughtering of animals to a degree that is not sustainable, healthy, or ethically okay in any way. I’ve totally transitioned from “ugh VEGANS ARE SUCH LOSERS” to “VEGANS ARE THE REAL MVPs!” – not because of my undying love for animals, but because wow, how far have we gone? so that’s one trend that i really like to see: more vegan restaurants, more vegan options. not because they’re healthy or because of our beloved animal world, but because we’ve really taken our resources for granted too much.
Thank you Sara for dropping some truth on us.
Recently Finding Berlin posted a kickass post about Things to do when it’s spring in Berlin but it’s still actually really cold aimed at all of you Berliners with winter cabin fever, slowly emerging from your domiciles. Miss. Chahrrour we all look forward to more of your essaying on: