Meet in My Kitchen - Cynthia Barcomi - Barcomi's
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1T 39M • 1/12 2021

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Cynthia Barcomi - Barcomi's

Introducing Berliners to American-style cakes, pies and cookies in the '90s. (English episode) Before I moved to Berlin I used to have a little ritual, every time I came here I made it a point to visit Cynthia Barcomi's Deli at Hackescher Markt. I was in love with this place, obsessed with her chocolate cherry muffins, with her tuna sandwich made with the juiciest potato bread, and the world's best New York Cheesecake. Whenever I set on the black and white leather benches in the tall lofty room of her Deli, Cynthia managed to make me feel home and taken care of but at the same time hungry and excited for everything that was new to me in this big city. Cynthia came to Berlin in the nineties, tumbling out of a rather protected childhood in Seattle, Washington State, and a few wild years in New York City, studying philosophy, theatre and drama at Columbia University and becoming a dancer at the same time. Those were the eighties and Cynthia lived the Flashdance-life. Although it can't really get much better than that Cynthia felt pulled to Europe, to Pina Bausch, Paris, Florence, and at one point to Berlin. Always moving, she can't stand still. With two kids, she started looking for a more steady life in the food world (maybe the only thing she ever miscalculated), so she decided to roast her own coffee beans and open her first café in Kreuzberg. Today this wouldn't be such an adventurous career move, but back in 1994, this was a risky endeavor. There were no American-style cafés, people didn't really care much about American cakes, pies, and cookies, there was simply no demand for it. Germans drank their old-fashioned filter coffee in questionable quality, and were happy with it, and enjoyed their German cakes for their 'Kaffee und Kuchen'. So now Cynthia popped up in the city, ready to conquer and change it all - and she succeeded. Three years after starting her first café, she opened her Deli, which is the reason why I moved to the area where I live now. I had to be close to that place. Almost 30 years ago, Cynthia changed they way people eat in the capital. Less competition may make it sound easier compared to today but this also meant that the risk was much higher. She had to pioneer a market that was so unfamiliar with her vision that even the banks told her "Look lady, if this were a really good idea, we'd already have it." Her answer was "What are you talking about. Society lives from new ideas. We wouldn't have washing machines, we wouldn't have cars, we'd be lighting fire, we'd be cavemen. I mean come on. Jesus!" So she just put a plate of her cookies on the guy's desk and at one point she got the loan. Sometimes in life you have to swim against the current, ignoring the anxious voices around you. It worked out in Cynthia's case but it wasn't always a smooth journey. Last year she had to close her Deli to save her business. A decision so painful that it still hurts her to talk about it. A chapter came to an end, after writing a beautiful story that will always be a part of Berlin, but Cynthia wouldn't be the person who she is if she didn't get back on her feet to write another story - to be continued. Cynthia shared the ultimate Christmas or New Year's Eve dessert with me: Pecan Pie with Chocolate and Cranberries. You can find all the blog posts about the podcast episodes including my guests' recipes on meikepeters.com under 'Meet in Your Kitchen'. INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/meetinmykitchenpodcast GUEST: https://www.instagram.com/cynthiabarcomi RECIPE: https://www.meikepeters.com/meet-in-your-kitchen-cynthia-barcomis-pecan-pie-with-chocolate-and-cranberries MUSIC: Martin Stumpf FRÜHSCHOPPEN: Ferrari Trento SOUND MIX: Kraatz Studios https://kraatzstudios.com MEIKE PETERS: Newsletter: https://www.meikepeters.com/subscribe-2 Blog: https://www.meikepeters.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eatinmykitchen Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eatinmykitchen Cookbooks: https://www.meikepeters.com/cookbooks

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