Backyard BBQ’s and the Germans

Let’s get straight to the point:
Summertime is BBQ time and having a BBQ is a rather tricky affair if you don’t own a backyard, frontyard, an allotment (okaay, that’s the luxury version) or at the very least –  a balcony! Here in Berlin, people predominantly stage their barbecues in parks and more and more often in obscure street-corners – that’s the guerrilla-version. BBQing is a must here in summer (think of German sausages!), although not always entirely accepted by the charming locals. Rules and conditions surrounding barbecues vary from council to council in Berlin. Having a barbecue is okay in big parks such as Tiergarten and the newly re-opened Tempelhofer Feld. The only downside is, that you have to share precious green space with about 500 Turkish families. When I say families, I’m talking about large groups of grandpas, grandmas, nephews and cousins, second, third and sometime fourth cousins, as well as wives, girlfriends, kids and the occasional family friend. It is messy, smoky and loud. Whereby space is rare and fiercely guarded.

The fun part of having a BBQ amidst all these people is, that you get to see and hear everything, given that you understand the odd word of turkish. There’s no point denying that it really is a turf-war. People fight over their claimed patches of recreational space like African warlords over villages full of potential new recruits.

The turf-wars in parks are relatively harmless when compared to the wars staged between neighbours in blocks of flats. Setting up your grill is not the issue, the problem starts with the smoke that emerges after about 20 minutes of heating up the coals. As soon as Germans see smoke, an innate alarm bell rings and the complaining begins. Germans don’t complain in a friendly manner. they aren’t able to reason on a rational level. usually, playing dumb helps a tiny little bit. Being ignorant too… but generally it is advisable to simply comply and do as told. The Germans can be so ruthless.

Going to the park remains the only option for mere Urbanites, however, make sure your local park has a dedicated BBQ-area. Bring plenty of wet wipes, kitchen towels, and pretty much every tool you fancy. Bring beer! Lots of beer and some sunscreen, don’t forget bread and condiments such as ketchup, hot sauce and mustard. It’s a big act to bring things there, cook the food and take the dirty stuff back home again, but a hot summer’s day spent in the park BBQing is fun no matter what. I conclude that it is worth the effort. Get BBQing as long as the sun lasts!

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