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currywurst

I’ve done my fair share of sausage coverage in the past week while reporting on German Christkindlmarkts for Lufthansa USA. Like this gem: the Grillwurst Schmanker, home of five meats. Other meaty highlights were Nuremberg’s famous Drei im Weggla, three delightful little piggies in a bun, and the magical pairing of sausage and sauerkraut. My last meal before I headed home was no exception. I’d seen currywurst stands in every city I visited. Every airport, too. I know curry, and I (now) know wurst, so surely the combination of the two would be something worth eating. It’s not that I was wrong. It’s that I wasn’t exactly right.

Here is what currywurst is not:

  • Curry
  • A composed dish
  • Nutritionally “with it”
  • Popular in the United States

But here’s what it is: the greatest comeback the hot dogs of your childhood will ever know. I myself was a mustard gal early on, but I knew plenty of “alternative” folks. For those of you who pine for some cut-up hot dog with your ketchup, things are about to get real: add curry powder and BAM! Street food. Germany is not the first country to spruce up cheap eats with cut-up hot dogs. It’s also practiced in Asia, especially in the Phillippines and Korea, where it makes an appearance in fried rice.

So I walked up to the counter, ordered “ein, bitte,” as “one” and “please” are the only two words you need in your arsenal when ordering food in a foreign land, and stared at the beast before me. Cut-up hot dog in a puddle of overly sweet ketchup, dusted generously with curry powder. And might I remind you that actual curry contains no curry powder. I never use the stuff, save for a boring riff on chicken salad or possibly sprinkled on deviled eggs when the rest of my spices are on vacation (so, like…not frequently). I’d like to meet the German who tasted curry powder and thought, “Mein gott! Ich must put this on cut-up frankfurters mit lots of ketchup und add plenty of dieser!” And then introduce him to garam masala.    

I ate it because street food abroad is the name of the game, but I gave up someone cutting up my hot dog for me with Blankie and daytime naps. While I’ve since resumed daytime naps, I still found the contents of my paper dish relatively unappetizing. Except the fries dipped in the curry ketchup. Those were cracktastic.

I see currywurst and me having a better relationship in a drunker state, potentially, but not even the Happy Hot Dog Man Frankformer could really entice me to…well, maybe the Happy Hot Dog Man Frankformer could entice me to order it again. But in my gut I know that some things just can’t be frankformed.