Monday, August 23, 2010

The Iconic German Currywurst

German currywurst. To some a snack; to others an institution. To the untrained palate it is nothing more than a hot dog with spicy ketchup. But to connoisseurs, it's a delicacy - depending on where you find it.

Last October, I was in Berlin for a short stint and wanted to make sure that I got in one plate of Berlin currywurst. Lowri and I jumped in a cab and I asked the driver if he knew "this one currywurst place in Prenzlauerberg, under the S-bahn tracks, near Schönhauserallee".. that's all I had to go on; no name, no address. To our surprise, our Algerian cab driver, who became quite chatty when he found I out spoke a bit of French, refused to take us there. 

"Oh yeah, I know the one you are talking about," he said. "But you don't want to go there."

Me: Um, actually, yes we do. Right there. To THAT one. We want to eat currywurst THERE.

Cab driver.: No, no. Not THAT one. It's dirty. You don't want to go there. I'LL take you to THE BEST currywurst stand in the city.

Me: Well, OK. I guess. I mean. I've already had the currywurst at THAT place and I thought it was great and others swear by it as well but if you know a better place....

Cab driver: Oh, I do.

Me: So, it's your favorite currywurst then?

His face shot up in the rear view mirror, eyebrows askew, feigned shock. 

Cab driver: MINE?!?!? I don't eat that sh*t, I'm Muslim. But you know, it's what they say. 

Me: Right, OK.

About 25 minutes and 20 Euros later, we arrived at Biers 195 on the Kudamm - one of Berlin's most beloved shopping addresses. My fears that the driver only took us there for a larger cab fee quickly dissipated as I took my first bite. The wurst was juicy, the curry sauce had just the right amount of kick and the fries were also good. Plus points.

So, this episode - in addition to a run in with the "Curry Queen" in Hamburg, where the curry mixes are prepared by a Michelin-starred chef and the sausages include, in addition to traditional pork, venison and Kobe beef - more on that another time - and the incessant debate between Berliners and Hamburgers about who owns the dish, led me to the Currywurst Museum of Germany, in Berlin, one lovely summer day last month. 

And I will tell you all about it.. in my next post.

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