It's that time of the year again, when foodies and healthy travellers are running to the International Green Week in Berlin, to taste some new products or drinks, enjoy some international company or simply run for some free gadgets and samples. I visited the Green Week in the previous years, but with a new foodie passion and a serious involvement in my travel adventures, this time I go with a different agenda.
As we go straight from the Southern entrance, we enter an exuberant Russian show ambiance, with ladies in colourful popular costumes singing and slowly moving their hands and men actively dancing kazachok. For a couple of seconds, I hope I am not back in time, in the old country of my childhood when such shows were part of the daily TV program we were allowed to watch. But I look around and I realize I am not. I am in Germany this time.
Russia has a huge pavilion, where most of its republics and autonomous regions are represented, each bringing their traditions and customs. There is a lot of vodka and caviar, but also various cosmetic products based on natural ingredients. The most impressive for me is a corner dedicated to various shapes and types of bread.
Belgium is tempting the visitors with various pralines and delicious chocolates. I take a look and dream about my dear Antwerp.
Belarus, as usual, has a big pavillion, with many drinks, including one proudly branding its anachronic version of communism, but this time, the employees working there look more friendlier. I refuse to take this first view as a message about possible changing times in the poor country though.
A friendly Bulgarian gentleman, dressed in the popular costume, greets us and invites to taste some big boxes of icecreams. I say a 'thank you' using 1 of the 8 Bulgarian words I know and I run to the Hungarian side of the exhibition, where I smell the kurtos kalacs while my eyes are trying to spy how they are made. One day, I will know how to make it, I promise. In the neighbourhood, the Romanians are presenting a lot of home made products, jams and honey, and cheese. A lot of small entrepreneurs from the countryside are present and they look very interested to sell and introduce their goods which always looks better than wait for the state to do the job for you.
We made another tour, just in time to watch a Greek dancing team performing. Such international events are good opportunities for branding and sharing the local culture, and the Greeks are doing their best.
Spain, Portugal and France don't need any introduction. The guests are tempted with various cheeses and delicious wines. The prices are a bit high, especially when it comes to the food sold in the fast food counters, but where else can you find a huge international supermarket with so many incredible products?
Each year, a country is invited as a special guest, an opportunity to introduce the culture and culinary richness. This year, is Estonia's big time, whose representatives are doing a great job presenting besides the food, a lot of cultural performances and tourist itineraries for people interested to feel the real country life and natural landscape. As I have a secret plan to finish a tour of the Baltic countries this year, I am more than interested in the offers. A big playground for children near the Pavillion helps the parents to taste their beer in peace for a couple of minutes.
Even we were out of time, with less than one hour till the fair closed, I couldn't miss the opportunity to have a look at the garden area, where beautiful flowers, and a full mini-park with a fountain in the middle were exhibited. Before reaching it, we went through an area dedicated to cattle and horses, that doesn't smell very inviting, but it's a great opportunities for city children to see same samples of nature life. Most of the participants are there to make serious deals with other counterparts though.
Armenia and Georgia are big producers of wines and drinks. Ararat, the mountain where it is said the Noah's Arch came to rest, and which currently is situated on the territory of Turkey, plays an important role in the Armenian identity. Hence, the omnipresence of the name assigned to important products, such as the cognac brought to the fair.
The last minutes and we made it to the Switzerland's Pavillion, passing by the windmill of the Netherlands and its thousands of samples of cheese. The branding is, as expected, professional and inviting for a visit. This time promise to do not miss Lichtenstein, the small principality that is presenting to the Berliners its food and natural beauty in a glance.
The last minutes of the exhibitions and a big commotion of both exhibitors and visitors. Our last sight is Ukraine, where beyond a smiling picture of a president, youngsters in colourful national costumes are ending up their working day with a mixture of folk and electronic music.
Times aren't changing that fast, but at least we did almost a full foodie tour of the world in less than 5 hours.