Saturday, October 1, 2011
Reality and Disilusionment
The picture you see above is of a delicious sandwich called the schawarma, from a restaurant in Berlin’s famous Kreuzberg district. I chose this picture because of food’s incredible power to represent and have influence over an identity and culture. In particular, this picture represents exactly the very opposite of many of the things I fantasized or expected coming to Berlin after spending a week in Istanbul. After coming from Istanbul and eating delicious Turkish food and being surrounded by Turkish culture for a week (which was amazing, by the way), I was more than thrilled at the thought of trying a myriad of delicious German foods. Part of experiencing another culture is being adventurous and stepping out of your comfort zone to try the food, right?
In reality, the foods that I ended up eating were a lot like the food that I had in Istanbul, likely because of the heavy Turkish influence in Kreuzberg District of Berlin. Many restaurants in this area, where I most often ate, were known as “foreign” or “Turkish” restaurants. Being the closest places to eat near my residence while in Berlin, I happened to eat these foods the most.
While I still vividly remember my swimming taste buds with every bite I took of the schawarma and other foods in this area, I couldn’t help to think that I was having the “German” experience. Perhaps it was because I wanted to try something new coming to Berlin, perhaps it was because I didn’t expect to be encountered with such familiarity. In a weird way, though, it was familiar in an unfamiliar sense.
As a tourist, or migrant in Berlin, whatever would be the proper term here, I felt as though I unexpectedly had to come up with a different way to identify myself in the Berlin culture. It was almost as if I were an outsider of a community in Berlin considered to be outsiders, and I never quite figured out how to deal with that struggle. When I think of these things, it strongly reminds me of something more important than just food. I began to wonder how migrants to the U.S. struggle between assimilation, hence losing aspects of the culture they’ve known, or preservation of their ties, thus facing that struggle of being considered the “other”. And, when it comes down to it, they always will be the “other” because society dictates that our differences should mark how we separate ourselves and draw where superiorities are.
Posted by dlcalhoun at 1:14 AM