The surprisingly British origins of German currywurst

The street food was first cooked with a little help from Germany’s enemies as The German Cookbook explains
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Currywurst, as featured in The German Cookbook
Currywurst, as featured in The German Cookbook

No dishes are more closely associated with the German capital Berlin than currywurst. The city even has a museum dedicated to this spicy sausage just a few doors down from another landmark - Checkpoint Charlie. And anyone who's visited one of Europe's most evocative cities will have stopped at least once at one of the many hundreds of street snack stands offering the dish.

Come election time, the city’s latest mayoral candidates usually pose for photos with a serving, in an attempt to prove how closely aligned their thinking and tastes are with their citizens.

However, currywurst would not have been invented in Germany, were it not for the military presence of the country’s one-time enemy, as our fascinating and beautifully designed new publcation, The German Cookbook explains.

"The home-grown cuisine of Berlin is most famously represented by currywurst, served at street stalls with French fries or bread rolls,” writes Alfons Schuhbeck in our new book.

Nevertheless, this steamed, then fried sausage, served with curry-flavoured ketchup, and made popular by construction workers during the post-war rebuilding of the city “is said to have been invented in 1949 in Berlin, when [local cook] Herta Heuwer started selling grilled bratwurst with ketchup mixed with curry powder,” Schuhbeck writes. “She got the powder from British soldiers.”

 

The German Cookbook

Of course, those soldiers’ forefathers would have first come across the spice mix in India, so cannot quite lay claim to the invention. Regardless of its origins however, Schuhbeck estimates that a truly astonishing "800 million currywurst are eaten in Germany every year.”

If you can’t get over there to try one, learn to make your own perfect version via The German Cookbook. You can buy your copy here.


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