Golden Berlin

Autumn this year has been glorious. Naturally, I missed the majority of it, but a short stroll in the Tiergarten yesterday gave me a taster.

We were in the Tiergarten to meet a friend at the café that sits comfortably by a small man-made lake, and it was such a gorgeous afternoon we sat outside and drank hot drinks as the sun set over the water.

The last time I was here was in the summer when Drubgyud Tenzin Rinpoche visited Berlin and while it was lovely, hot weather tends to summon too many beings into small places. I like it better in the winter. But I’ve added a photo of Rinpoche with Roland and Arne to give you an idea of the place in the summer. Perhaps I should go into advertising…

The best bit is the pathway that leads to the café. You don’t notice so much in the summer sunlight, but once its dark the old-fashioned street lamps light up, creating the most magical atmosphere. Was this what it was like a hundred years ago, I wonder?

The lamps were sent as gifts to the city of Berlin from various places in Europe, but I couldn’t help speculating about where the idea came from. I mean, if I wanted to send a gift to a broken, bombed out, hungry city, an ornamental street lamp isn’t the first accessory that would spring to mind. Or is this just another example of how out of kilter my mind is with the rest of the world? And did they uproot the lamp and plug the hole with a plaque to commemorate their generous donation to Hitler’s decimated capital? I suppose I should look it up, but I won’t.

Autumn is the best time for scrumptious homemade soup, but I’m crap at soup making. According to my Ayurvedic cooking guru, Miriam Kasin Hospodar, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote, “Only the pure of heart can make a good soup.” It’s not a quotation I’d ever come across before, despite four years at music college… It may explain, though, why I am such a dead loss at soup-making, and Andreas is such a dab hand. His pumpkin soup is divine.

For one litre of soup:
600 grammes of pureed cooked pumpkin (Andreas swears by the small, orange Hokkaidokürbis (Jap. kuri-kabocha)
500 ml of milk (Andreas uses cow’s milk, but use whatever your digestion can cope with, dairy or otherwise; creamy goat’s milk makes it very rich indeed)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger (you can use fresh if you prefer)
2 tablespoons of ghee or butter

Miriam adds 1½ tablespoons of raw sugar to her recipe, but our anti-sugar conditioning is now so engrained that neither of us have been able to bring ourselves to try it.

Combine the pumpkin, milk and ginger in a blender. Pour into a medium saucepan. Add the ghee or butter and heat up until just about to boil. Add salt to taste.

Miriam’s variation is to omit the ginger and add instead about a teaspoon of curry powder. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. I should add that even though I followed this recipe to the letter, the result was questionable, so beware, old Ludwig may have a point. A ‘pure heart’ might well be the essential ingredient.

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