Currywurst is to Germany as pizza is to Italy, hot dogs are to America and fish and chips are to Great Britain. But only a few have their own museum. The glorious currywurst is Germany’s traditional modest snack of sliced pork sausages drenched in a tangy curry-tomato sauce and boasts of its own sausage shrine.
The Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Berlin is a memorial to all things currywurst, celebrating one of Germany’s iconic dishes. Yearly, 800 million currywurst are devoured every year - that’s a staggering 1500 per minute! Despite its name, the currywurst is not actually a sausage that is curried. The secret of the currywurst stems from the unique sauce - a simple but unforgettable medley of pureed tomatoes flavored with a sprinkling of a mild curry mixture.
Each chef creates his own distinct sauce recipe and no two Germans will agree about the absolute perfect currywurst. Some like theirs with a sweet taste of Indian spices, others with a touch of mustard powder and still others hot and spicy with chilies, as a matter of fact some like it really hot. Then there is the matter of how you pair the currywurst - popular are French fries or a bread roll. However, the currywust has become such a cult that star chefs are putting it on their menus and creating a variety of different pairings like serving it with coleslaw, rice or baked potatoes.
What started out as the “poor man’s steak” and sold in street stands all over Germany can now also be found in high-end restaurants served on chinaware with a glass of champagne to wash it down. In my opinion the currywurst is simply best without the swanky airs and enjoyed standing up in an omnipresent outdoor snack bar, served in a cardboard or plastic box with a wooden fork or a toothpick, with hot, crispy frites. While Berlin, the Mecca of the currywurst, offers a range of great currywurst joints (my favorite the Curry 36 in Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg district), it is Weimar that makes the most divine currywurst I have ever tasted to date. People queue up at all hours of the day for a currywurst deemed particularly tangy and aromatic.
With a waiting time of approx. 20-40 minutes, people stand patiently at Fritz Mitte in the narrow street in Weimar’s city center. The sausages are fried to perfection and two currywurst sauces are offered for the currywurst fan - hot and spicy or mild and tangy. The currywurst are served with piping hot and crispy Belgian-style frites, sizzled to perfection. You will be asked to select from a range of mayonnaise and with flavors like wasabi, truffle, mustard and garlic to name a few you’ll be spoilt for choice.
There is some controversy over how the currywurst came into being and has two big German cities squabbling for years.
Berliners will insist, a housewife, Herta Heuwer, created the currywurst in September 1949, less than four months after the end of the Allies' Berlin Airlift. As the story goes, Heuwer traded some English curry against spirits with parched British soldiers and after experimenting in her kitchen she mixed the spices with a dash of American ketchup, and a drop of Worcester sauce, concocting the cheap yet filling dish now known as currywurst: grilled sausage, sliced, with a gravy-like sauce containing English Curry and stewed tomatoes. At a time when Germany was a changing nation, this meal was fitting -- comfort topped with a hint of exoticism.
Residents of Hamburg in northern Germany, however also claim the currywurst for their own, with the Currywurst Club of Hamburg even going so far as to accuse Berlin of re-writing the history books.
Whoever first created the dish, the fact remains that the currywurst is a central part of German history and there is no such thing as the currywurst - every one likes the dish differently. Currywurst is as much about your trusted street vendor, creating his own signature sauce and the people you meet standing in the queues, as it is about the food itself.
You will see the anticipation of the faces of the people queuing up to get their doses of sausage in an exotic spiced tomato sauce and if you are in Weimar, a selection of scrumptious flavored mayonnaise served generously on thickly cut, crispy fried frites. So please do queue up and chat with the people waiting in line and check out the smiles on the faces of those already tucking into this sensational snack.
Fritz Mitte Weimar
Facebook: Fritz Mitte
Although currywurst is best enjoyed at a street stall or vendor you can make this at home. My recipe is flavored with some Indian spices and the orange juice adds a tangy, slightly sweeter note. It really is a darned delicious sauce. You can use it for pizza or pasta sauce too or try it on roasted chicken. The rule to a really good sauce is anything goes. Use this as your basic recipe but be fearless and experiment to find the perfect balance of ingredients to suit your palate.
Also read: 1500 Sausages of Germany - The Bratwurst
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First