In times when German cucumbers cause deadly kidney failure, wurst -even the greasiest- seems like a perfectly healthy choice. Since I have entered German territory ten days ago, I keep finding myself eating wurst at every turn … Bratwurst, Currywurst, Wiener Wurst, Grillwurst, Gesichtswurst … I don’t know what’s with this country and its delicious wurst, but they are inseparable and there is no escape.
Wurst case scenario, take one:
The other day in Berlin, I was at the “CDU Media Night” in Germany’s conservative party’s headquarter (don’t ask me how I ended up there … all I remember is thinking: where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?) drinking beer and eating currywurst. Currywurst is a delicious pork sausage, grilled to perfection, cut into pieces, doused in spicy ketchup, peppered with curry, and usually served on a small paper tray with a tiny wooden fork.
So, I was at said event holding a currywurst-laden paper tray when I saw the spokesman of the German Defense Minister (and member of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU coalition cabinet). I had recently met the Minister in Washington and, glad to see a familiar face, decided to quickly say Hi to the spokesman.
As he turned to me to shake my hand, with a surprised but big smile on his face, somebody stepped out from behind him and extended his hand as well. The Minister himself! To say that I was dumbfounded would be an understatement – it really isn’t my style to interrupt the Minister and his spokesman in whatever ministerial things they might have been up to.
As my brain was scrambling for something polite or at least smart or funny to say, the Minister said something to me – something my brain was too embarrassment-overloaded to understand. I looked at him with a big question mark on my face, and he repeated: “You may want to hold that straight!” as he pointed at my currywurst tray which -being so shocked by his presence that my muscles had lost all tension- I was holding at a downward angle while the wurst pieces, lubed up with curry ketchup, were slowly sliding dangerously close to the edge of the tray – from which they could easily fall directly onto the Defense Minister’s shoes …
Wurst case scenario, take two:
A week later, I had just overcome the embarrassment of the near-disaster with the German commander-in-chief, I found myself craving currywurst again.
My bro-in-law and I needed some calories before hitting the motorcycle accessories store, so we decided to get in line at the nearby currywurst street vendor. Being deprived of all sorts of German goodies due to my long absences, I was set on currywurst mit pommes, currywurst with thick-cut french fries – a German favorite. My brother-from-another-mother, being on some sort of a carb-cutting diet, wanted to cut out the fries but was too hungry for just a currywurst. The menu offered a bunch of other wursts and the choice quickly fell on a Krakauer wurst. I am not enough of a wurstologist to explain the difference but the name indicates this wurst being of Polish origin.
Anyway, my sister’s husband decided to go with a currywurst-and-krakauer combination, so that’s what I ordered:
“One currywurst with french fries and one currywurst with a krakauer, please!”
“Sure”, said the wurst-lady behind the counter and started throwing fries in the deep frier, and wursts on the grill. We waited for a while, watching her do her wurst magic, when she finally turned to me with a smile and said: “Two currywursts with french fries, that’s five euros, please.”
“No, ma’am, not two currywursts with french fries! One currywurst with french fries and one currywurst with a krakauer, please!”
“One currywurst with french fries and one krakauer with french fries, got it!” the wurst-lady replied.
“No!” I said, shaking my head, and repeated: “One currywurst with french fries and one currywurst with a krakauer, please!”
She still didn’t understand and we went back and forth for a while until it finally clicked.
“Ohhh, you want a currywurst with a krakauer!” she said with the triumphant smile of someone who had just solved a complicated puzzle.
“Yes!” my brother-in-law and I exclaimed in relief.
Her smile turned into a frown: “Can’t do!”
“…????” We started going back and forth again.
My brother-in-law was starting to look for a pen and paper to make an explanatory drawing, and in my head, I was creating a choreography for an expressive dance to break down the details of our order when the wurst-lady finally realized: “Ohhh, you want a currywurst with french fries, and a currywurst with a krakauer!”
In a wurst-crazed country like Germany, I still don’t understand why a two-wurst order was so hard to understand.
Wurst case scenario, take three?
Coming soon, rest assured. I still have a week left in Wurst Country.
Two days after posting this, I was sitting in a beer garden on the shore of Lake Masch in Hannover downtown drinking beer and eating -you guessed it- currywurst. In the water, just a few feet away from us, swam a huge carp. Apparently Lake Masch is known for these monstrous 4-foot beasts that look like they feed on the dragon boaters that were practicing in the distance. I wanted the carp to come closer so I threw a piece of currywurst in the water. The giant fish noticed it and slowly started swimming towards the floating piece of German goodness. Neither I nor the fish had noticed an inconspicuous duck paddling in circles in the vicinity – but the duck had noticed us and the wurst. It jumped out of the water, flapped its wings a few times, landed right next to the wurst and before the fish or I could do anything about it, picked up the sausage piece, chewed a few times and swallowed.
I swear the fish gave me a look as if it wanted to say: Seriously, a currywurst eating duck?
I was truly inspired by this experience and I can’t wait ’til Christmas when I will make currywurst-filled duck for dinner!