Taste and Tradition: Berlin’s International Green

Hungering for a new culinary adventure to discover new foods and drinks of Europe and beyond? Berlin's annual International Green Week (Jan 20-29, 2012), the largest event of its kind in Europe, shows off the future of food, agriculture and horticulture, with more than 1500 exhibitors from over 50 countries presenting a wealth of products and services, as well as renewable energy sources and vibrant horse shows.

No need to worrry – this is not a carbon-bashing event whereupon everyone makes you feel guilty for flying to Berlin in the first place, even if you did bother to offset your carbon emissions.  International Green Week has been going on for a lot longer than the Climate Change debate – in fact, 2012 will make it the 77th annual event.  So, instead, Green Week is a massive fair of food, agricultural and horticultural industries, in which companies test-market their food. In other worlds, you can basically wander around the exhibition hall all day, trying a bit of everything.

So let’s do a run-down of what’s on offer, shall we?  Organised around national, regional and product themes, the displayed food highlights meats and sausages, seafood, fresh produce, teas, herbs, spices from over 50 countries, alongside a beer, wine and spirits section that is typically buzzing with activity.  Characteristic regional dishes and beverages from across the globe are up for sampling, including specialities such as Thai curry cake, Canadian bison jerky, Australian crocodile burger and Swedish elk spritis.

That’s not to mention the luxury food brands and exotic products that will be prevalent – there's over 100,000 delicacies to be tried by adventurous gourmets. For the first time this year, visitors will have the opportunity to sample cacao from the Central African country of Gabon, fresh kinnows - a variety of mandarin from Pakistan's Punjab region - and traditional cheese-and-meat plate from Liechtenstein called Buuretäller.

There are also exhibits on less delicious stuff, such as livestock breeding, forestry and landscaping, but that in itself is quite interesting and it’s all part of the event.  There are still horseshows to demonstrate the quality of the beasts, involving show-jumping and so on, which has been going on since the event began in the twenties, which is quite a spectacle.

International Green Week is taking place in the Messe Berlin, which is a vast network of twenty-six fair halls.  Basically, it’s a huge place, so you can easily set aside a whole day for wandering around the area and picking at bits and bobs of food.  Messe Berlin is to be found in the Berlin Westend, which is easily reachable by public transport – you can get on the U-Bahn and get off at Kaiserdamm station, from which it is totally walkable to the events hall.  Equally, you can get on the S-Bahn to the Messe Sud stop, which will take you directly to the south entrance.

International Green Week runs from the 21st to the 29th of January, so if you had planned a winter break in the city at this time, you can easily make it to the event.  It’s open daily from 10am until 6pm, but if you’ve managed to time your trip over a weekend then you’ll be able to stay until 8pm on a Friday or Saturday, giving you a little more for your ticket price.  Speaking of which, it’s 12 Euros for an adult day-ticket, but if you can muster up a student card then concessions are 8 Euros.  Not bad at all.

In looking into this event, I came across an absolutely fabulous video: it’s a collection of images and clips compiling a history of the International Green Week.  It’s fascinating to watch, to see how the event has grown and modernised over the decade.  You also get a good look at Vladimir Putin, who apparently graced the event with his presence in 2009.  Check it out here.

Official information and contact details for the event:

Website: www.gruenewoche.de
Date: 20-29 January 2012 (UPDATE: 17-24 January 2014)
Address: Messe Berlin, 22 Messedamm 14055
Email: central@messe-berlin.de

Tel: +49 (0) 30 30 380Text by Daniel Palmroos