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The Chicken Place

September 1989

One day a colleague showed me a running route through a park, pointing out a restaurant whose specialties included an assortment of meats served on a "Big Dirt Shovel" – perhaps something is lost in the translation. Later that week, we walked there and found we needed reservations for such an august meal. Disappointed, we headed back, when we noticed another restaurant set back among garden plots. We opened the door and curious faces turned our way in the smoky interior. I thought we should leave, but Betty Lou prevailed and we found a pair of vacant seats. The menu included chicken, which she pronounced superb. My schnitzel was equally delicious. We came back the next night and repeated the meal – and many more times in the next two years, during which we got to know many of the regulars.

Although its real name is "KGV am Spargel," to us it remains "the chicken place." (In fact, even its actual name is unusual – Spargel means asparagus in German. Itís named after a nearby 1,100' communications tower, the Europaterm, whose shape earned it the nickname.) Several weeks after we had arrived Betty Lou remarked that she really missed chicken – I hadnít noticed its absence at all. We later heard that after the war chicken was all that was available, so when better times came it was considered ordinary.

One night towards the end of our stay, after Betty Lou had suffered a bicycle accident and was hobbling on crutches, we came by car – once we bought mountain bikes, they had been our normal local mode of transportation. As we left, another couple whom we had often seen but had never talked to, walked past us. In a moment the woman turned around and asked us if they could take us home, as her husband was going to bring their car back – they assumed by the direction we were walking that we had come by bus. Not the usual German reserve you hear about! We were really touched.

Update: On a later trip, we learned a surprising fact about the owner.

© Copyright 2000 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved

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