Merkel offers peek into her private life, potato soup included

BERLIN, Andrew McCathie (dpa)- Angela Merkel generally manages to keep private life out of politics. But the German leader has let her guard down to prise open the door to her personal life ahead of next month's national election.
Who is the real Angela Merkel? For many Germans, their long-time chancellor is a cautious but deft manager, a safe pair of hands in a turbulent world.

But with a national election looming next month another side of the 63-year-old has emerged as she prises open her normally closely guarded private life.
At the last election four years ago, Europe's most powerful leader confessed to finding men "with nice eyes" attractive and to getting drunk on cherry wine as a student.
Now with the her campaign for a fourth term in office entering its final weeks, Merkel has shed further light on her personal life by allowing photographers into her private apartment in central Berlin.
She also revealed her recipe for one of Germany's classic comfort foods: potato soup.
"I always crush the potatoes myself with a potato masher rather than a puree machine," Merkel told the German weekly gossip and celebrity magazine Bunte. "This leaves the consistency in small pieces."
Instead of staying in an official government residences, home for Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, is the same apartment she has occupied for years in a four-storey building.
It has a view over a cluster of several of the city's greatest museums, considered to comprise one of the world's richest cultural heritage sites.
A series of photos published in June by the women's magazine Heute Woche shows a rather typical German apartment with wooden floors, white walls and a large mirror over a long grey sofa in the living room as well as a tidy kitchen and small table.
"I like to eat late at night," she confessed to Bunte.
Located in one of the most highly visited parts of Berlin, bemused tourists often see the woman dubbed as the new leader of the free world slipping between her official vehicle late at night or early in the morning before heading to the nearby chancellor’s office.
A Protestant pastor's daughter who grew up in communist East Germany, Merkel's deep personal interest in German cultural life is well known.
Last month she hosted the leaders of the Group of 20 major economies at a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony in Hamburg's recently opened Elbphilharmonie in order to show off to the world the latest addition to Germany's cultural landscape.
"I am a classical music fan," she said in one of her weekly video podcasts, in which she also talked about learning to play the flute and piano.
The German leader kicks off her annual summer vacation at the opening night of the Richard Wagner opera festival in Bayreuth and before the demands of the chancellor's office she was a regular at Berlin's opera houses and concert halls.
Last week she revealed her favourite emoji.
"Smiley," Merkel told popular young video bloggers. "If it's really good then with a small heart next to it," said Merkel, who has governed Europe's biggest economy for 12 years.
Merkel generally manages to keep private life out of politics. She appears only infrequently in public with Sauer, her second husband.
A quantum chemistry professor, Sauer has at times appeared somewhat impatient with the media circus that surrounds his wife.
One video clip taken during her early days as chancellor showed Merkel walking along a beachfront arm-in-arm with Sauer, who is holding an umbrella to shield himself from photographers.
The chief of Germany's conservative Christian Democrats has revealed in previous interviews how her food tastes have been shaped by her 35 years living under communism
Merkel has also previously disclosed how she prepares beef roulade with red cabbage often on Saturday evenings when she and Sauer manage to get away to the chancellor's modest weekender in a small village on the flat-open countryside north of Berlin.
In the Bunte interview, Merkel praised Sauer for the help he provides in keeping their everyday life going, especially now during the election campaign.
"He always supports me, for example, by often shopping for us," said Merkel, who is a physicist by training.
Like the chancellor, who is regularly spotted – large blue purse in hand – at local shops, Sauer has also been seen queuing at the supermarkets' cashiers, including the gourmet section in the Berlin offshoot of the French department store, Galerie Lafayette.
Despite the demands of the campaign, Merkel is keeping an eye on the potatoes growing in her garden for her next batch of soup.
"It looks good," she told Bunte. "But the harvest has not yet been brought in."

Wednesday, August 23rd 2017
Andrew McCathie

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