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A cookbook treasure trove

For the old school among us, cooking can be still be made easy through cookbooks. Berlin's Bibliotheca Culinaria teleports Berlin's dinner plates to different places and times in the culinary world, including the GDR, through its vast collection.

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Photo by Erica Löfman

Secondhand and antique cookbook shop Bibliotheca Culinaria teleports visitors to different countries and times with a collection of floor-to-ceiling cookbooks. 

January is hibernation time, but you can only order out for pizza so often. Cooking is unavoidable, so if there is one trip you must make through the snow, sleet and ice, it will be to visit specialist purveyor of secondhand and antique cookbooks, Bibliotheca Culinaria, in Mitte.

Advancing carefully through the four rooms of floor-to-ceiling books, you will realise there is an order to the chaos. The books are arranged by theme and cuisine: Portuguese, Spanish, Cuban, Japanese… even old commie cookbooks from the former GDR. The oldest find is a French rarity from the 1700s, in perfect condition, with a section on table manners (€800).

The two friendly owners, married fifty-something couple Swen Kernemann-Mohr and Johannes Mohr, enthusiastically gush over their collection, accumulated over the last 20 years. One of their favourites: a book from the 1800s about a man’s experience living with a cannibal tribe (€10, no recipes included!).

They also collect cooking equipment. A 1900s sausage maker, anyone? And with books like Operation Vittels (€20-50 depending on condition), compiled by American women stuck in 1940s blockaded Berlin and featuring a cocktail named Block-Ade (a mix of strong alcohols with added sugar), their shop is a repository not only for recipes but for insights on societal tastes and mores over time.

Originally published in issue #123, January 2014.