Sunday, July 25, 2010

Currywurst! Spysnack or a hot dog with ketchup?

Currywurst is a uniquely Berlin invention created in the Charlottenburg neighborhood by Herta Heuwer. It starts with a wurst or pork sausage that is fried in oil(deep fried or pan fried) sliced and doused in ketchup and raw curry powder. It's sold out of trucks, small imbiss(fast food) stand and in restaurants around Germany.

Rumor has it currywurst stands around Checkpoint Charlie(American diplomatic checkpoint in the Berlin wall) were used as a incognito meeting place for spies, informants, and generally people who weren't supposed to be in each other's company.
My first currywurst was disappointing. A little burger/wurst fast food stand in Hermanplatz, quickly scarfed to appease a grumbling tummy. It was literally a American hotdog fried, slathered in American style ketchup with a tiny bit of curry powder on top of the ketchup. With fries(pommes) and the smallest coke I have ever drank .2 l 2.50 Euro. The soggy fries were just the final kick while I was down.


I'll admit it, I wasn't very happy, and I had just about written off currywurst at one go! But I have a rule, I will try ANYTHING not once, but three times. We were walking around Checkpoint Charlie and I spied, with my little eye, this truck:


It's a German Weinermobile! If someone made a truck, and even a MUSEUM for currywurst, it must be worth another shot! Where better then the currywurst museum itself! With 4 or 5 people handing out fliers for the museum it couldn't be a huge tourist trap could it?

This was the second stab into the world of Currywurst. Here they added the raw curry powder directly onto the currywurst, and I was faced with a decision: Skin or no skin. Apparently this is a big debate in the currywurst world should this pork sausage be incased in a snappy, crisp skin, or should it be unbound to marinate in its own juices and fry the meat itself rather then the barrier of fettering pork intestine.

Here I tried the skin on variety. The skin itself becomes rather tougher then a sausage skin usually does on the grill or boiled. It gives a different texture to the outside which vaguely reminded me of a thin piece of tendon, luckily I love gristle tendon and all things with this texture(tendons and hearts and kidneys OH MY!)

Sorry, back to the Currywurst. With the curry powder applied directly to the meat and the ketchup over it I feel it lets the curry flavor concentrate more on the meat. Also they used a tomato sauce/curry blend without the zing of vinegar that ketchup has. The sausage was OK but not remarkable. We decided not to go into the currywurst museum mostly because Jess probably would have killed me if I made her sit through a couple hours of Currywurst history and toys.

So far, lets be honest, Currywurst is not very impressive, it's a decent sausage(sometimes) drowned in tomato based sauces with a tiny hint of curry in them. Cheap, maybe a utility food, but really nothing to write a blog about. I was quite disappointed since you can't seem to spit in Berlin without it landing in a pile of ketchup soaked sausage.

I was being tested. I knew I had to go all out for the final attempt, find the greatest currywurst in Berlin, and see what all the fuss is about. Asking around and trying to find where the locals go for great currywurst I came up with Curry 36 right by the Mehringdam U station. By this point my lovely girlfriend has given up on currywurst and won't even try mine, luckily there is another tasty treat up the street Mustafa's(for more about that see my Doner post[coming soon]). This place is packed during the day with a half hour long line. Luckily we snuck in during a Germany World Cup game and I grab some food without a wait.

Glory of glories, non-encased sausage with a most heavenly of homemade sauces. Heavy on the tomatoes with just a tiny hint of vinegar and a light sweetness. Heavy on the curry blend and extra raw curry directly on the meat. The sausage itself was light and the flavors penetrated the meat well without the casing. Even the crispy fries were coated with a touch of curry! This place, I had to go back to, and I did, right as were were leaving town, I waited 30 minutes with my huge 85 liter backpackers pack on just to get a last taste of currywurst before leaving Berlin.
-Nom!

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