Hot dogs. Although questionable in wholesomeness, they are sold everywhere, whether on the kid’s menu of a “fancy” restaurant, or simply from a street vendor. You can’t go three blocks in a city without finding a place to buy a hot dog! But these dogs were not always so artificial, and have roots all the way back in Germany, 1313 B.C.E.
The year 1313 B.C.E was one of the first times people found evidence of wurst, better known as sausages, being eaten. Since then, the wurst has become a common street food throughout Germany, but it can be found in other countries as well. In fact, the sausage’s origins lie in Austria, and the word “wiener” actually means “of Vienna.” In both countries, it can be found slathered in spicy curry sauce, have cheese right at the center, and many other ways. These wursts are mainly not eaten as meals, but as a quick snack.
One of the many variations of how the wurst is served is the currywurst. This is a sausage that is cut up into pieces, and then is slathered with a curry sauce made from tomatoes, onions and curry powder. For a final touch, curry powder is then sprinkled on top. The curry powder gives it a little extra spice, and also makes it look better.
A few months ago, I was in Mainz, a small city in Germany. After visiting some of the area’s castles with my dad and my brother we went to a neighborhood restaurant called Weinhaus Bluhm, where we were squeezed into a table with a bunch of other people. Being a fan of spice, when came the chance at a restaurant, I ordered the currywurst. I had never tried it before, and my dad recommended it. As we sat down to the crowded table, we noticed a quiet man staring us down from his side of the table. As he would take a sip of wine, he would at the same time give us a funny look. (I’m guessing it’s because we’re American). Soon we were moved because a group of people came in that were meeting one of the other groups at our table, and needed more room. We were then served our wurst and pretzels with cream cheese. When I tasted my currywurst, I was surprised by the texture of the powder combined with the spice, but quickly came to love the dish.
We went to Vienna after our time in Mainz. During another long day of walking and exploring the city, we started to look for somewhere to eat. After trying again and again with no luck, we decided to settle for a wurst stand. Again, my dad and I got currywurst. My brother got a cheddarwurst. It was a delicious snack for us, and was most definitely worth the walk. We got back to the hotel feeling happy and full.
When I returned home from my trip, I was inspired to make my own. So, one night recently, my dad and I made a curry sauce mainly made with tomatoes, onions, and curry powder, and the next day bought authentic German sausages. My editor’s grill, an ancient, tiny, and borrowed thing, gave us 30 minutes of trouble, but was eventually fixed. With that problem solved, the dish was prepared very fast. Surprisingly, making currywurst at home wasn’t difficult at all. In fact, the hardest part was lighting the grill!
We quickly grilled and curried them. A good thing to do when done is to sprinkle a little extra curry powder on. This gives it more texture and spice. When all was finished, the currywurst was delicious and tasted a lot like the ones I had in Germany and Austria!
All in all, these sausages will prove fun and easy to make, and after they have been eaten, a mere hot dog will never quite satisfy you again.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon hot paprika
2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Over medium heat, heat the canola oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped yellow onion and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add curry powder and hot paprika, and cook for another minute.
Using hands, crush canned tomatoes (with juice) into the pan. Add sugar, vinegar, and salt, then stir well. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
Purée sauce with an immersion blender or other blender until smooth. Serve hot over German sausage.
Makes about 1½ cups.
Photos by Julia Silva