March 20, 2017

Struth! The wurst of Berlin street food


David Ellis

BERLIN street food-vendor Herta Heuwer would never have thought back in 1949 that a snack she ran up after swapping some hard-to-get booze (for which she had remarkably fortuitous access,) for equally hard-to-get tomato sauce and curry powder that grog-thirsty British troops still stationed in the city after the war had plenty of supplies of, would one day become a virtual German national dish.

For Herta went home and beat-together the sauce and curry powder, and a few other spices she had as well, and several days later began offering her concoction slathered over grilled pork sausages she sold to construction worker customers re-building the war-ravaged city. She dubbed her dish currywurst (wurst being the German word for a sausage,) and by the end of that week the cheap, filling and tasty snack had patrons lining the pavement at every meal break.

Other street vendors quickly mimicked Herta's recipe, so that within a couple of years currywurst was not only the Number One street snack in Berlin, but in several other German cities as well – Herta herself selling a mind-blowing 10,000 every week. Today currywurst is so popular across Germany with locals and foreign visitors alike, that some 800 million are downed annually, 70 million of them just in Berlin…and these days usually accompanied by French fries.

And a museum that opened in Berlin in 2009 dedicated somewhat bizarrely to the snack, the Deutsches Currywurst Museum, today gets 350,000 visitors a year… who each receives a hot currywurst as a Thank You for visiting.

[] A PICTORIAL dedication in Berlin's Deutsches Currywurst Museum to Herta Heuwer who created the currywurst snack for her Berlin street food-stall in 1949; today 800,000,000 currywursts are sold in Germany annually. (Deutsches Currywurst Museum)

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