This is a follow up post on “Taking the road not drawn.”
Our perception of the world as nodes and links is not only in the physical domain but also in the metaphorical way we live our lives. By our use of phrases such as “career path,” we’ve come to believe that there is a way forward in our lives to get somewhere.
The first stages of our lives are structured like climbing a ladder with grades in schools (as in “1st grade”) leading to degrees. Many people keep this way of thinking as they start working and climbing the “corporate ladder.”
In reality the world isn’t one ladder we are trying to climb or a path that leads us somewhere. It’s a place where you can head in any direction you want, any time you want. The paths we lay down are only our perception of how life should proceed, biased by the ways millions have traveled before.
You can go wherever you want. The question is, where do you want to go?
The internet can be a challenging place for creative people. While it provides a global audience, with one or few search queries, one can find out if his or her idea is truly unique or not.
For the last few years, I’ve been getting into experimental cooking and coming up with new recipes of my own. However, every time I try something new, it turns out that someone has already tried it and put it online.
Now I’ve found something no one has tried: Mettwurst Sushi.
Mettwurst is a type of German raw/cured/smoked pork sausage that is readily available in supermarkets. In Frankfurt, I’ve seen mettwursts spread on bread as open face sandwiches, usually mixed with onions and some spices.
When I first tasted mettwurst, I thought the texture was very similar to minced tuna, which is where the idea came from.
How to make mettwurst sushi
- Sushi Rice – You could use regular rice if you want, but sushi rice will definitely make it better
- Mettwurst – 200g goes with about 2 cups of rice
- Seaweed – Standard sushi seaweed cut in half to make thin rolls, 4 full sheets
- Green onions
I used a standard sushi mix to make the sushi rice, but you could easily make your own.
Preparing the filling
Chop the green onions finely:
Mix the mettwurst, green onion, and sesame as evenly as possible:
That’s it for making the filling.
Making the Sushi
There are many guides to rolling sushi online. I suggest this one for making thin rolls.
More than ten people have tried the mettwurst sushi and reception has been positive. Non-Germans, however, seem more receptive, possibly because they don’t have any biases on how mettwurst is supposed to be used. Imagine how Japanese people would react if raw tuna is served on toast.
In a country where edible raw seafood is hard to find, this has become one of my favorite recipes.
Fascinating story about a man who fell into a coma and woke up speaking fluent Mandarin.
If you ended up in a comma but could wake up with one extra skill, what would that be?
Fluency in a language?
Fine motor skills for some complicated tasks? (Like instantaneously throw a frisbee perfectly)
The ability to operate new vehicles?
Perfect understanding of human desires, behaviors, and dysfunctions?
While it’s probably beyond our lifetime, this means that someday we may be able to rewire/reprogram our brain to learn new skills much faster than we do now. Yes, like “The Matrix.”
I spent Christmas on Fuerteventura, an island in the Canaries off the coast of Africa. Most of my friends went home, and I did not want to stay in Frankfurt so I booked a last minute ticket. I’d rather be a stranger in a strange land than a stranger in a familiar land.
Fuerteventura is a barren volcanic island without much vegetation. One can stand on high ground and see miles and miles away, something that is lacking for many of us who live in cities. Also, with the lack of plants, steep cliffs, and urban areas, one can walk pretty much anywhere on the island.
There are of course hiking paths, but Fuerteventura is not known for it’s hiking. The draw of the island is the ocean, white sandy beaches, and the surf. Most of the fellow travelers I met came for the surfing, may it be kite, wind, or the original. I did take a class one day only to be reminded that I’m really bad at it. Instead, I spent most of my time trekking around the island.
I’m not an avid hiker. I don’t mind spending time in nature but I’d get bored rather quickly and I’d rather be doing something intense like running or playing Ultimate. However, on Fuerteventura, I got enchanted by the freedom to walk anywhere I want.
We see the world mostly as points on a map with paths in between. The points could be home, work, school, gym, a restaurant or cafe, etc. The paths could be roads, subways, train lines, bus lines, or even flights. Our perspective is that of nodes and links, a collection of one-dimensional paths overlaid on a two-dimensional surface.
When the opportunity presented itself to break out of this paradigm and walk the land like the original explorers, I couldn’t pass. It’s exhilarating to not be bound or not knowing where you are going. I looked around for the tallest peak I could find and walked straight for it. At the top I looked around and picked my next destination without worrying about what’s in between.
Needless to say, there were plenty of discoveries in between.
The same caught on satellite imagery:
The world is a beautiful place.
Best shopping area
Zeil (map), a pedestrian street synonymous with shopping in Frankfurt, is packed with independent retailers, departments stores, and malls. Very lively… a little too much so on sunny Saturday afternoons.
Best Ikea alternative
Ikea in Frankfurt is a trek without a car and it will inevitably make your apartment look like one of their catalog pages. Mömax (map) is a German rip-off of Ikea, equally cheap but tackier and with horrible customer service. While not as big or well stocked, Yellow Möbel (map) is competitive on price and has some interesting offerings.
Best farmer’s market
There are few around town but the Thursday and Saturday market at Konstablerwache (map) is the biggest and most lively. On a sunny day you’ll find many locals chatting over a glass of wine. Not Wednesday or Saturday? No problem, just head to the Kleinmarkthalle (map) nearby. Sunday? You’re screwed.
Best local expat online discussion board
Frankfurt-N-Motion has thousands of members both on its Yahoo Groups mailing list and Facebook group, and most of the other expat groups advertise through there as well. Ignore the MeetUp group, it’s not used anymore.
Best music venue
This of course depends on your taste in music, but the Jazzkeller (map) has a fantastically cozy ambiance with a very nice staff. There is cover some evenings. Frankfurt Art Bar has some nice music evenings, but as of writing, they got kicked out and are looking for a new home.
Best running area
While there are few nice parks around town, the river side is by far the best place to go running in Frankfurt with plenty of other people running, biking, roller blading, etc. For a challenge, you could race some of the boats going up or down the river.
Eiserner Steg (map), the pedestrian bridge in the center of town is very lively in the summer with music and tourists. There are also good cafes on either end. The Deutscherrenbrücke (map) at the end of town is mainly a train bridge with a pedestrian part but it provides a fantastic view of the Frankfurt Skyline, the only one in Germany with Skyscrapers.
Best Frankfurter restaurant (Apple wine tavern)
Many Germans will tell you that Frankfurt is not very German, and the one of the key things that makes Frankfurters different is their love of Apple wine over beer. Most likely you will not like Apple wine as many believe it’s an acquired taste, but it’s worth a try, and the best place to do so is at Kanonesteppel (map), a traditional Frankfurter Apfelweinkneipe. In addition to the drink, they have fantastic food, some specific to Frankfurt, and most, light on the wallet and heavy on the stomach.
Best (non-Frankfurter) German restaurant
Klosterhof (map) is a very popular German restaurant near Willy Brandt Platz and after eating there, you will understand why. Just be sure to make a reservation.
There aren’t many but I absolutely love Bier-Hannes (map) for their solid beer and hearty food at very reasonable prices. The ambiance and service is incredibly homey, but unfortunately it’s located very far from the center of town. Braustil (map), a relatively new microbrewery, is much closer to the center of town and is situated in a converted petrol station, but it doesn’t serve food and there is a little bit of a yuppie tax on the price.
Best Japanese restaurant
Mangetsu (map). This is a toss up since since there are many good Japanese restaurants in Frankfurt for all price ranges and style. I like Mangetsu for it’s Izakaya-style eatery at a reasonable price. Iwase (map) is also a good alternative, more central but a bit pricier. I have not been to the super pricey restaurants like Kabuki or Sushimoto but they are supposed to be fantastic as well.
Best Chinese restaurant
I have not been to too many Chinese restaurants in Frankfurt, but I love Pak Choi (map). In a rather sketchy area of town near the central train station, this unassuming restaurant offers no shortage of flavor, spice, portion size, and grease for a very affordable price. I highly recommend going with as many people as possible to try many dishes.
Kebabs in Germany are what Mexican food or Pizza is in the U.S., late night munchies for the drunk and delirious. Nevertheless, Bistro Sahin (map) has fantastic Kebabs and Turkish food that’s worth the trek sober (it’s also a restaurant, not a stand).
Best African restaurant
When people talk about African food in Frankfurt, it’s the Ethiopian variety with large plates of mostly meat that you share with the table. Im Herzen Afrikas (map) has by far the best ambiance (think indoor beach) and delicious food.
Best borderless (cuisine) restaurant
Textor (map) serves food of various cuisines, all modified for available ingredients and local tastes, and executed with refinement to match the soothing ambiance.
Best cocktail bar
My personal favorite is O-Ton (map). According to my friend, the head bartender (maybe owner?) has won multiple prizes; he’s made me some fantastic and unique drinks in the past. The place can get rather crowded on Fridays and Saturdays.
Best outdoor cafe/bar
Maincafé (map) by the Untermainbrücke is easily the best place to drink alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages in the summertime while lounging around with locals on the grass. If you get hungry, there is a boat selling döner kebab nearby.
Best indoor cafe
I don’t drink coffee or tea so I wouldn’t know.
Few weeks ago, I attended Web Summit 2014 in Dublin, a kind of tech and startup fair similar to Tech Crunch Disrupt (companies weren’t all internet based). This is probably the largest fair/conference of its kind in Europe and with 20,000 participants, the scale was quite impressive.
One of the marquee speakers at the event was Bono from U2. He sat down with Dana Brunetti, Eric Wahlforss, and Bill McGlashan in the last session of the three day event and discussed the future of music and how new technologies are enabling bands to publish more easily now than in the past. A garage band with some tech and software savviness can easily get their music out to their world. At one point in the discussion, Bono compared startups to bands.
- Both startups and bands are usually a small group of friends trying to change the world and make it big
- Both have tendencies to pull off ridiculous stunts in order to get people’s attention
- Startups try to raise venture capital, bands try to sign contacts with record labels
- Startups have pitch decks, bands have demo tapes
- Many startups and bands have ridiculous names
- Many people who are part of startups or bands have day jobs on the side to pay the bill (probably less for startups)
- Most startups and bands ultimately won’t make it big, and those involved will end up working for other people
Ultimately the startup and band industries are number games; there simply isn’t a way for everyone to succeed. This is why venture capitalists fund many companies and record labels sign many bands.
I don’t know how much Bono thought about the comparison when he made the statement, but he’s the one who has made it. One could even call him the Google of bands.
Web Summit was fantastic, listening to all the new ideas coming out and basking in the endless optimism emanating from the entrepreneurs. At the same time, there was something slightly melancholic standing there with thousands of people listening to Bono, realizing that many of the ideas will ultimate go nowhere. Our world is built on dreams, both of those who succeed and fail, and it’s beautiful that people can keep dreaming.
Photo from Independent.ie
Best summertime activity
There are many many festivals in Frankfurt over the summer, the biggest of which is the Museumfest. Be sure to check out the events calendar. If there are no festivals, go to the Kleinmarkthalle (map), buy some food and wine and enjoy a nice afternoon picnic by the side of the Main.
Best rainy day activity
Frankfurt is known as the museum city in Germany so there are no shortages of museums. I have not been to enough to suggest the best one (though I do like the Money Museum for a slightly different experience), but be sure to get the MuseumsuferTicket if you’re planning to visit few.
Best winter activity
If you’re in town between late November and Christmas, be sure to check out the Christmas Market at Römer and surrounding areas (map). While not as well known as the other Christmas markets in Europe, there is fantastic variety and it’s big without being too big. It can get very busy in the evenings so be warned. If you missed the Christmas Market, see “Best rainy day activity” above.
Best cliche tourist activity
The Apple Wine Tram. Yes it looks tacky, yes it is tacky, but it’s not expensive and you get to combine drinking with a mode of transportation. The music may drive you nuts, but least you get mini-pretzels with it.
Best culinary discovery activity
I help organize an English Tuesday night eating and drinking club called Drinkstag (it’s a play on the German word for Tuesday, Dienstag, not “Drink Stag”) where we go to a different restaurant or bar every week. We’re doing our best not to repeat places.
Best “you have to do it once” activity
Beer bike. You need to get a group of dedicated drinkers and bikers for this, but it is a fun way to spend an afternoon combining beer and exercise. (Note: it looks like beer bikes may have been banned in Frankfurt)
Best “I forgot how fun that was” activity
Not that it’s Frankfurt specific in any way, if you have a large group, Lasertag can be surprisingly fun. Just remember, many Germans have military training.
I’ve only been to two, but for box-style Karaoke venues run by Chinese people, I recommend Melody (map) over Assad for their 9.90 euros all you can drink beer and endless snacks (go in a group and rent out a room). For bars, most Irish pubs in town have Karaoke nights.
Best movie theater for non-German speakers
Cinestar Metropolis is the main theater in town and has showings in “Original Voice” (OV), be sure to checkout the website where you can also buy tickets for popular new-releases. For other non-German movies, checkout Frankfurt International Film Listing.
Best random Monday night activity
And this one is actually random. Cinestar Metropolis has “Sneak Preview” on Monday evenings at 21:00 where they show unreleased (at least in Germany) English movies in its original language. You don’t know the movie until it starts playing, so you are really gambling but at a reduced cost. Be sure to book early since it often fills up.
Best “hey, that’s cool” activity
Have you ever heard of paternosters? The old-school, open door, continuous movement elevators of death? There is still one in Frankfurt at Flemming’s Hotel by Eschenheimer Tor (map). There is an overpriced restaurant/bar at the top floor with a good view of Frankfurt if you feel guilty for taking the paternoster for no good reason besides just enjoying the ride.