Fascination univeristy-canteen: eating habits in Berlin

For university students to feel at home in a foreign country, to study well at the university and to feel always sated, there is a canteen or several of them at every university and on every campus. There are several of them on the Berlin campus of the Free University of Berlin. It is difficult to make a difference between the food they cook here and the restaurant food. Food of different cuisines, and often at very affordable prices, — this is everyone’s dream.

I will go to the university canteen and will take pictures of my lunch, to tell Converter’s readers about everything I have tasted. ©Anna Andrievskaya
Hundreds of people come to the canteen every day to have meals. Berlin is multiethnic, just like its cuisine. This canteen, though, meets the high expectations of any gourmet. Food to any taste is found here — from vegan schnitzels to the famous Berlin curry wurst. Let us see what we can choose. It is easy to pay for the food with the MensaCard, a special discount card to pay for the food in student canteens.


©Anna Andrievskaya
Today is not Thursday but Monday. I mean, the fish day is far ahead. But I decide to try fish. As a rule, I promise to myself to eat healthy food, beginning with Monday. I order fried plaice filet with lemon and cream sauce (Ein gebratenes Schollenfilet Müllerin Art mit Zitronenbuttersauce). The side dish is the same from day to day — one can choose broccoli, mashed potatoes, a baked potato, spaghetti or rice. Yet, the best choice to go with the fish is rice. The fish is creamy but the sauce is especially good, which makes the rice soft and gives a special taste to the fish. ©Anna Andrievskaya
To add to the fish, I take a bulgur and mint salad. The taste is unusual. As I mentioned, Berlin is an international city, so the canteen food is so diverse. People from different countries can find something similar to their ethnic foods there. For example, the bulgur salad comes from Lebanon. Besides mint, it has tomatoes and greens. It tastes very good but it seems I am fed up with cereals for today.


©Anna Andrievskaya
I am going to the canteen determined to have soup. Every day there are four different soups offered. The menu changes but I do not often come to the university, so I do not try all that is there. As a rule, one of the four soups is a cream soup. Today I will try the carrot cream soup. It is delicious! I finish it in a minute. Such a soup has a lot of vitamin A, which is responsible for youthfulness and beauty. ©Anna Andrievskaya
Let us take the main course. I choose chicken with apricots in the Persian style. And here is Asia again — from Lebanon we go to Iran, as this an Iranian dish. As a side dish, I take mashed potatoes and greens. The food is absolutely delicious. I like this unusual combination of sweet apricots and of tender chicken. Yes, I have had an excellent lunch today. I can now go to my seminar…


©Anna Andrievskaya
It so happened that I came to the canteen too late: the counter with the main dishes is closed. So, I have to choose, let’s say, delicatessen from a special counter. The dishes there are more expensive but otherwise I can only get meat balls and curry wurst. Yet, I decide to prefer what I think will be tastier. I take a cheese plate with assorted cheeses. I can eat cheese anytime, and it is good there are only several slices on the plate. I remember my college years in Novosibirsk Academgorodok… I didn’t know at that time that there were cheeses with mold. ©Anna Andrievskaya
To go with the cheese plate, I take a dish of the unknown cuisine. It is beautifully designed and looks tasty. My mouth wets from the very name of it — tortilla rolls with spinach and smoked salmon. By the way, spinach originates from Persia, too. It is not surprising it is so popular in Berlin, as the local residents are fitness freaks. People who eat spinach get healthier, as their hemoglobin level rises in blood, the reserve of their vitamins and minerals gets replenished, their immunity gets strengthened and they catch colds and the flu more seldom. Well, now that my immunity is strong, I can go on doing other things…


©Anna Andrievskaya
I do not have classes every day but I must go to the canteen. So, I go to the university to spend a day in the library and to try tasting interesting food. Today, instead of a fish day, I am having a pasta day. For lunch I have a spicy salad from noodles, sausage and paprika. I do not quite like spicy food but I decide to try the salad for the sake of experiment. It seems this is my first and last try, as I am not a fan of pasta salads, unlike many Germans. ©Anna Andrievskaya
I also take gnocchi, fried with ham and vegetables. As usual, the dish looks tasty. It does taste good. Gnocchi is a traditional Italian dish: dumplings popular both in Italy and in Berlin. In my opinion, there is too much ham and too little vegetables. Of course, I do not leave the canteen hungry.


©Anna Andrievskaya
And today I am planning to order a true lunch consisting of three dishes. First, I take soup again. I choose between fish soup, spicy Chinese soup and cauliflower soup. I recall the phrase I once read: “Cauliflower discloses its flavor especially well in cream soups”. I hardly have time to understand how well the flavor of the cauliflower is disclosed when it is finished. And I taste the main course which I chose rather because of nostalgia. ©Anna Andrievskaya
The point is that when I saw golubtsy in the menu, I certainly decided to taste them together with mashed potatoes (I love mashed potatoes) and gravy. My mother makes the best golubtsy, so I was striving to compare. Here I was disappointed – it turned out that golubtsy are made here out of pickled cabbage, while mincemeat in them seems to be too tough. And the gravy did not go well with them. Sour cream would have been much better. I text to my mom: “Mom, there is nothing like your golubtsy!” ©Anna Andrievskaya
I am glad, though, that I bought a dessert today. It will outdo the sour taste of the previous dish. One can choose various pastry here. Yet, I take a fruit salad. The canteen is wonderful – one can eat fresh fruit and vegetables at any time of the year. If I want watermelon or melon, I will get them. Do I want mango and grapes? Here they are! I enjoy the fruit and go home.
©Anna Andrievskaya

Anna Andrievskaya

Journalist from Novosibirsk, she has graduated the Novosibirsk State University. Currently lives in Berlin and studies East-European Studies at the Free University. She works for different projects of the Goethe-Institute in Russia and as the editor of Recyclemag at the same time. Anna is highly interested in ecology and initiated several ecological projects.


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