Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online

Mutti (or “Mummy”) knows best, as Germany’s recent general election proved beyond doubt. It handed Angela Merkel a huge victory, yet one which was not quite big enough for her to secure an absolute majority for her ruling conservatives.

The “most powerful woman in Europe” finds herself in the difficult position of having to recruit a very junior coalition partner in order to form the next government. The choices are  down  to a grand coalition with the  opposition Social Democrats, an untried alliance with the Greens or fresh elections.

The horse-trading could take months. But the first talks “about whether to hold talks” about forming a coalition were held between Ms Merkel’s party and the Social Democrats yesterday.  The Chancellor deployed her secret culinary weapon for the meeting. She decreed that her famous Kartoffelsuppe (potato soup) should be on the menu at Berlin’s parliamentary offices  to soothe the frayed nerves of its bickering participants.

Kartoffelsuppe played a key role in establishing her credentials as national Mutti. Early in her campaign, she let it be known that she makes a pretty good potato soup. That and the admission that her chemistry professor husband often criticises her for putting “too much crumble” on her cakes helped her to win hands down.

Will Kartoffelsuppe work its magic again ? It might not appeal to Social Democrats but it could convince the Greens – providing it is made from potatoes that are 100 per cent organic.