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Staining shirts in Berlin

Mark Strijbosch does the food tour of the German city. His stomach is happy, his shirt less so.

Street food is one of the biggest attractions in Berlin.

Street food is one of the biggest attractions in Berlin.

You know that favourite shirt you have? Well, whatever you do, do not pack it in your hand luggage and certainly do not wear it in Berlin.

A map of stains now decorate this particular shirt, each constellation a different food outlet which I just had to try – good riddance new year resolution to keep fit and be healthy, held for a solid 14 days. You will not be remembered.

Berlin’s favourite hobby seems to be eating, and that’s up there with my top three things to do in life, besides breathing and drinking. So, right from the get go I knew we would get on fine.

Our first date was a simple one, but a messy one. Stain number one was formed as that dollop of garlic sauce trickled sneakily down my hand onto the shirt pocket. Did I swear? Yes. Did I really care? No.

This doner kebab was worth every stain, and at €3.50 no one was complaining. The chef himself was grinning with pride, complimented by my stained shirt.

Doners here look monstrous, packed as tightly as my Ryanair hand luggage for a two-week stay. Layers of goodness stacked on each other stratigraphically, a dream for an archaeologist to discover what lies beneath. This restaurant gets a solid nine on 10, the stain scoring an average six.

I scored it six simply because a mere 20 metres down the street its rival was waiting, casting flirtatious eyes at my shirt, luring it into its restaurant.

A German Curry Wurst is a must-have in Berlin. Drowned in red sauce, served chopped up in little pieces, this street food is amazingly easy to eat, unlike the kebab. Little forkfuls of sausage filled my mouth, one rolling onto my sleeve, a really sweet stain, looking like one of those tattoos a bad guy wears as he robs a bank. The distinctive look of it matched the distinctive flavouring of the Wurst, and we were not done here.

You are given six different courses, an endless flow of beer and a little dagger to eat your rich food

Fifteen minutes later, our next stop. The incredible Angry Chicken. A tiny crammed shop, one you would not associate with food consumption.

The name is no coincidence, though, as the spices the chicken swims in are truly angry. We or­dered 15 pieces, yes 15, and along came this silver bowl, a swimming pool of sauce housing chicken pieces. Way too easy to stain your shirt, but at this point in time a hat-trick was on the cards. Eating here is savage, but boy it’s fun. The food gets a respectable eight on 10, the stain the same score. The burp that followed was off the Richter scale.

For when you wish to save your shirt from further collateral damage, Berlin also has the answer, as our evening meal was a throwback to a less hygienic time. We rushed into a restaurant-turned-barn, greeted by the biggest and loudest German man ever. Ralph played his medieval pipe as we sat down and tied a massive handkerchief around our necks, covering my stains well.

The idea is simple, you are given six different courses, an endless flow of beer and a little dagger to eat your rich food. The bigger the mess, the better and the louder the cries of “Auf die Gesundheit” the merrier.

Sticking to the theme, Ralph elected one of the group our food taster, and the lucky man had to taste all the food to ensure it was fit for consumption, and believe me, some of it looked far from that.

This restaurant had a fun atmosphere, decent food and great service, scoring a good eight on 10 for fun, but the stain? Technically a zero on the shirt, but a 10 on 10 on the apron, looking like it was dragged in the mud and then ran over a few times.

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