Hamburg - A taste of (Germanic) Greek cuisine at Finkenau
Cosy little restaurant, run by some very friendly folks. They spoke no English there though, but that's *not* a problem when we're hosted by a German colleague of Greek descent. Orders were made & taken in (what we were told later) German-accented Greek.
The meal started & ended with little glasses of ouzo.
Our starter was a huge platter consisting of Dolmadakia, Favakeftedes, Feta cheese, kalamata olives, and with Melitzanosalata, Taramosalata, Skordalia & Tzatziki dips. No pita breads here (disappointingly), but we were served bread buns.
Main courses we had included a tasty fried ox-liver dish, topped with lots of sweet onions; lamb cutlets served with creamed spinach and tomato-scented rice; and souvlaki with Tzatziki dip and pommes frites.
Somehow, I had this feeling that the food had been localized to suit German tastes - traditional Greek flavors: garlicky, lemony, herbal (thyme, oregano, dill) were all missing. The little plates of fresh (horiatiki) salads came not dressed in olive oil, but a creamy, vinegary Germanic mayonnaise. Very good nevertheless.
Tel: +49 40 2206027
Yup, that was the first anomaly which my German-Greek colleague pointed out to me during the course of the dinner - she said, "Well, as you can see, this dressing is *not* Greek". But I was okay with that - it tasted quite good actually, and the salad was crisp & very fresh.
Germany vs Greece at the Euro 2012 this evening. The whole office is abuzz with excitement. Me? I'm trying to figure out which hard-to-book restaurant in town I should go to this evening after 8pm - unless that restaurant has installed a big TV screen to broadcast the soccer match, it should be pretty empty, no?
I actually got a bit worried when my colleagues told me over lunch today that, since it *is* Germany playing in the quarter-finals today, there'd hardly be a place in town which will not screen the match. Everyone will be glued to the TV screens and, if Germany gets thru as expected, there's going to be a LOT of honking & celebrations in the streets. Else, I don't know what's going to happen - just make sure I'm not wearing Greek colors, I guess.
Maybe I'll traipse down to the Portugiesenviertel around Ditmar-Koel-Straße - now *they* had gotten thru yesterday (courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo) so I know I'm going to get some good food there ;-)
Irregardless, I find the Euro soccer fever & atmosphere here in Hamburg totally electrifying. Every other car on the street has a pair of those mini-flags wedged onto their rear-door windows - mainly German, of course, but you do see other countries' colors flown as well by their respective fans.
I'm sure your feelings about localization/Germanization of the food isn't a figment of your imagination. One supposes this sort of thing goes on with "ethnic" or non-native cuisines around the world, more egregiously in some places, less so in others - and those who seek out the "authentic" stuff (there's that word again! Heh) or "traditional" dishes for the cuisine involved are the sort of people who post on Chowhound. :-)
A bit off-topic (i.e. not about Greek food) yet related in an "ethnic" sense - I had German colleagues from Bavaria in the company I previously worked in who visited us from time to time. They (but in particular the usual "head"/leader of the group) loved "sushi" (in the general sense) and greatly looked forwards to eating at least one meal in a good Japanese restaurant here. :-) Interesting, especially as there seemed to be quite a number of Japanese restaurants in their home base metropolitan area anyway.
I was discussing that meal with my German-Greek colleague over lunch today, and she admitted that local Greek food had been "dumbed down" to suit German tastes. She didn't quite mind that as she's German-born herself, though she'd expect "different" flavors when she vacations in her family's ancestral hometown in Thessaloniki.
BTW, my Hanseatic colleagues here are also very big into sushi & other Japanese delicacies. I guess for them - Japanese raw fish & seafood have a close affinity to Hanseatic cuisine with its rollmops, herring, moray eel, etc. But Germans on the whole seemed to have taken to Japanese cuisine & culture in more ways than one - perhaps stretching back to their close alliance in the last war.
The first conveyor belt sushi (kaiten sushi) I'd seen in Germany was in Stuttgart, back in 2000.
There are quite a few (very popular) Japanese spots in Hamburg, but I'd also been taken by German colleagues/friends for sushi in Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Berlin and Frankfurt in the past decade or so.
One of my most memorable meals was at Konomi in Heidelberg. When I was there in Jan 2001, the restaurant had only been operating for 8-9 months. Owned by a young Japanese couple. Glad to see it's still there today:
Fascinating. Thanks for the reply.
Regarding Konomi - interesting their menu/website is largely in English! Heh. Still, I find it significant that they offer something like Hiyayakko, amongst other things. That is something that would be savored by a very limited proportion of the general dining public in the US, in my view.
ETA: It might be interesting to compile a list (with suitable local input, of course) of which "national cuisines" were most mangled and which were least mangled in Europe. I for one would find it interesting. Also, ditto for the USA and Canada. Your recent reports on Thai food in Hamburg, with the importation of esoteric (but "authentic") stuff like pea eggplants also adds to this speculative query.