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Samizdata quote of the day

German asparagus in season. Heaven.

– Michael Portillo samples the cuisine of Germany in his latest European Railway Journey.

I am greatly enjoying this show, and am recording it. I am finding it to be a wonderfully relaxing and entertaining way to soak up a mass of historic trivia, such as (this week – just as one for-instance) how Eau de Cologne got started. I also learned about that upside down railway that I have seen so many pictures of but have never pinned down to a particular place.

And not so trivia, because Portillo is focussing particularly on the period just before World War 1. Europe’s last golden age, in other words. Railways were not just for tourists, they were for canon cannon fodder.

This week, Portillo was wearing a rather spectacular pink jacket, of a sort that he would never have risked when being a politician.

11 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • I lived for many years in Essen where Michael Portillo spent time last spring.

    I found the Esseners to be intelligent, open hearted and cultured. Everywhere was maintained to the very highest standards. If a united Europe meant running things upon a German schedule, time-scale and balanced funding it might have a future.

    Unfortunately, the EU is working to the French, Greek and probably Romanian rules.

    As Frazer from Dad’s Army used to say “We’re Doomed!”.

    For anyone ever visiting Essen, I recommend the Mercure Plaza Hotel on Bismarckstraße.

  • Germany is a lovely country for a holiday. The British don’t always appreciate this properly.

  • “Railways were not just for tourists, they were for canon fodder.”

    Yes, I am sure they did indeed transport food for senior members of the clergy but are you sure you didn’t mean something else?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Took me years to figure out that Brits didn’t actually eat ‘grass’ – then Portillo has to go and change the game. What price, obsolete insight?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Yes, I am sure they did indeed transport food for senior members of the clergy but are you sure you didn’t mean something else?

    Posted by Patrick Crozier at November 22, 2012 11:45 PM


  • The British don’t always appreciate this properly.

    Bigoted by the mantra of “Two world wars and one world cup”, travel 100 km in any direction in Germany and it transforms through picturesque mountains, rivers, lakes it is exactly what Britain should be but isn’t.

    Apart from the bureaucracy and taxes necessary to pay for it all – obviously that is a bit of a drag, but the cost of living is very low.

  • Dave Walker

    I’ve enjoyed Portillo’s previous railway journeys series, and it’s very obvious he enjoys making them; he’s a rather good presenter, in fact. I haven’t seen any of the new series, yet – as the British railway journeys were loosely structured around Portillo’s trusty copy of Bradshaw’s (which I’m pleased to see has come back into print to support the series), what’s he using for his continental foray?

    I’ve also travelled in Germany, although it’s been some years now since I was last there; I expect the Neckar Valley is just as lovely as I remember, though :-). Ulm’s also very pretty, the cathedral is spectacular, and Ulm Muensterbrau shows that they don’t export the good stuff ;-).

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I spent some time in the Rhineland and also in Bavaria, and I can concur with Michael Jennings that British people don’t realise what a fine place Germany is to visit. On the other hand, the absence of British people in Germany, or indeed anywhere else, is one of the reasons I would want to visit it in the first place, since I like to immerse myself in another culture.

  • Alisa

    What is it about German Asparagus that stubbornly attracts more spam than any otter vegetable on offer?

  • Laird

    Funny, Alisa, I don’t recall asparagus being on the menu with the spam. Of course, I might have just missed it.

    But what is an “otter” vegetable?

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