Movie Date Berlin: Fabulous Food, Movies We Love

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Movie Date Berlin: Why?

Why do Movie Date Berlin right now?

Well, in one of those odd coincidences that make life interesting—and to some, downright mystical—this intriguing NYT story on recreating top secret documents about East Germany’s dreaded Stasi, or secret police, was just published. (I’m writing on August 11, 2021.)

So…what’s my connection?

I’ll tell you.

But first, if you want to skip this part, you can jump to our Movie Date Berlin menu suggestions or our Movie Date Berlin movie choices.

movie date berlin: this pinterest card features movie titles and a great meal suggestion of potato pancakes
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Movie Date Berlin: A few words on the DDR

When Steve and I visited Berlin in 2014, I became somewhat obsessed with the DDR, which is what the Germans called the former East Germany. (It stands for Deutsche Demokratische Republik.)

A bright green Ampelmann, the jaunty figure on streetlights in the former East Germany, symbolizes it's safe to cross the street.
A bright green Ampelmann, the jaunty figure on streetlights in the former East Germany, symbolizes that it’s safe to cross the street—and not get run over by a Trabi.

I picked up a copy of Anna Funder’s superb book, Stasiland. An Australian reporter, Funder studied the impact that the Stasi had on the lives of East Germans—those targeted by the dreaded secret police, but also those who were secret police themselves.

It’s a riveting book.

And as I reviewed my photos from the trip for my Berlin Tips post, I remembered the impact it had on me, on the way I’ve never looked at Berlin or Germany in the same way since.

And I thought, well, this calls for rescreening the great Stasi movie: The Lives of Others.

It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Ulrich Mühe, the lead actor and guy pictured in the still above, does more with his eyes than most actors do with their entire bodies. He died the year after the movie’s release.

So watch in honor of Herr Mühe.

Look, I like movies that tackle big things.

But just in case you prefer something lighter, you can jump straight to other movie choicest that give a great feeling of Berlin.

Still. This is one is the best.

FOREIGN FOOD: We love big cities with huge immigrant populations, because they let us cheat. Simply get hold of the best Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Indian, or….whatever takeaway you can get your hands on. That’s what we loved the most in Berlin: Falafel and Pho.

a plate of falafel from a middle eastern restaurant in Berlin's kreuzberg neighborhood features felafel patties, hummus, bright orang and yellow sauce, and a fresh bright green salad with a strip of red tomato

Feel like cooking? Try these:

  • Potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream—preferably homemade apple butter with delicious apples, like you’d get in Germany. Although this version, which we got from a German restaurant, featured a Caprese salad on the side. We love this German potato pancake recipe from the Daring Gourmet, an excellent resource.
Potato pancakes from a German restaurant, featuring Caprese salad on the side. Photo Nan Bauer, 2016, Germany

  • Sweet and sour vegetables, like this simple mix of green beans with bacon in a vinegar sauce with a touch of sugar. The Low Carb Maven has a fine recipe for Sweet and Sour Green Beans. We had carrots to use up, so threw those in as well.
  • sweet and sour green beans and carrots are topped with bacon, a suggestion for the menu for movie date berlin
    Sweet and Sour Greens Beans with Carrots, Bacon, and Onions. Vegetarians, swap in coconut bacon! Photo 2021 by Nan Bauer, based on a recipe from The Low Carb Maven.

  • Germans love their ground meats—which they call by the descriptive and terrifying name of hackfleish. These meatballs in a soft lemon and caper sauce are pretty special. Where Is My Spoon has a perfect German Meatball recipe. You could serve them over spätzle, homemade or not, or just get some nice wide fresh pasta. We were feeling like we didn’t need bread this night, and had them alongside the green beans.
  • sweet and sour green beans and carrots topped with bacon are served with meatballs in lemon caper sauce, a suggestion for the menu for movie date berlin
    German meatballs in a soft lemon and caper sauce feature alongside sweet and sour German green beans. Photo 2021 by Nan Bauer; recipe from Where Is My Spoon.

  • For dessert: Pastry, natürlich. Back to Where Is My Spoon for an amazing 14 page of archive of wonderful German recipes—including plenty of pastry. Not feeling super bake-y? Cheesecake always works. We admit that this picture is from the Black Forest rather than Berlin. But German cheesecake always looks this good. Trust us.
  • Movie Date Berlin: Movies We Love

    Here, a small selection of personal favorites—with hearty thanks to Almost Ginger, a fine source of movie recommendations and a big help to me as I tried to remember Berlin movies that I’ve loved.

    • The Lives of Others. Just a reminder. Please watch it. It’s so wonderful.
    • Divine Decadence fans, you must see Cabaret if you haven’t already. Or even if you have. Also, free giggle courtesy of the cheesy 70s voice over, which is blessedly minimal.

    • Russian Doll fans, Groundhog Day fans, Olympic sprinting fans: You want Run Lola Run. It’s the first two on whatever weird drug The Kids are taking these days, provided it’s a drug that makes you want to go really, really fast. It’s wonderful.
    • I discovered the wonderful Victoria via the equally wonderful MUBI, which serves up a different movie from around the world every day for a month—then retires it. Victoria is a young Spanish woman who meets some guys at a Berlin club and then has…well, let’s call it an adventure. It is shot in ONE TAKE. I shit you not. It’s dazzling. And yes, some people call it a gimmick. I call it genius. Because it’s not done as a gimmick. It proves to be the perfect way to tell the story. Note to director Sebastian Schipper: Please make more movies.
    • Atomic Blonde. Because Imperator Furiosa? In BERLIN? And Mr. Tumnus?? Count me SO in.

    Once again, lots more choices for Berlin movies from Almost Ginger.

    But you really DO need to see all of these.

    Tell Us About Your Movie Date Berlin

    Do you have go-to German recipes—your own or someone else’s? How about viewing recommendations? Share with us in the comments, please! 

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