Monday, June 26, 2006

Curry & Sausage?!! Na klar, Currywurst!!!

Well, I have to report that sadly, none of my plans for football-inspired food have really come to fruition so far as I’m far too busy watching the games to go in for elaborate dishes...

So, we had fish and chips from the chippy for one of the England matches, and Argentinian steaks done in the George Foreman (very tough), and for one of the Mexico matches, Tom cooked some very hot chicken, which we ate in flour tortillas. I was rather hoping to get rid of the Swedish meatballs which have been lingering in the freezer, but I didn’t want to do that for the England match, and certainly not against Germany, and sadly now Sweden are out of the competition. Ozzy wanted me to do German meatballs (by which he means Königsberger Klopse) instead but with the match so early, I really needed something much faster. And what is Germany’s favourite fast food? Of course! Currywurst!!

Yes, to the rest of you the idea of Bratwurst swimming in a curry sauce is probably stomach turning, but ever since someone had the idea of cutting up a Bratwurst into slices, laying them out on a narrow paper tray, and topping them with lashings of curry-laced tomato sauce sprinkled with curry powder, this No 1 snack (“Imbiss”) had no rival until the rise of the mighty Döner Kebab.

So popular is this sausage that it now has its own museum in Berlin, and three areas claiming to be the home of the originator: the Ruhr-area (Ruhrgebiet, aka Kohlenpott = coalpot), Hamburg and Berlin.
I found no less than four different websites (all in German) – and there are probably more - devoted to the cult sausage.

From what I can tell, there is quite a dispute over the true story of its origins. As a Kohlenpott-girl, I had always assumed it was a regional dish – and after all, had not Herbert Grönemeyer[1] himself praised the humble sausage as something to still your hunger, to make you feel better when you feel down, just the right thing when you come from your shift? ( In ‘Die Currywurst’ - sung in the local sociolect.)
I also quite like the accidental nature of the ketchup-curry sauce discovery in the myth that links the sausage to Essen. But read all about it here:
And if your curiosity is not stilled yet – there is also a short film (2004) by an LA woman, Grace Lee, “Best of the Wurst”, exploring legend, Imbissbuden, Berlin and expert opinions. – Apparently, a topic hotly debated is the sausage itself – does it have to be a skinless sausage?

Well, mine wasn't. It was simply Bratwurst from Lidl, fried in a little vegetable oil (by now I’ve learnt that it has to be peanut oil if you want it to be authentic), sliced and kept warm, while I poured water into the pan, followed by a Knorr Currywurst sachet, stirred until thickened and there you have it! – I know it’s cheating but I had to try it out (and no, you can’t buy the sachets here unless you happen to have a very strange German delicatessen nearby, hmmm... that reminds me, but that’s another story, which will feature here soon...). Here are the ingredients:

Sugar, tomato powder, salt, flour, 7% curry, vegetable oil, apple powder (??!!), corn flour, monosodiumglutamate, disodiumanate (??!!), disodiumguaylate (??!!), maltodextrin, onions, beetroot powder (??!!), soy sauce, aroma (??!!), sodiumdiacetate (??!!), citric acid, garlic, ginger, milk sugar, dextrose, nutmeg, rosemary

So you see, apart from the chemicals, it’s quite easy to replicate. There are a number of recipes on the net, but I really think the basic ingredients are a tomato base, curry powder, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt and chili powder. So, next time, I shall experiment and make my very own special sauce, for Currywurst und Pommes Spezial.

For yesterday's England match, we simply had strawberries and cream but I'm planning a St. George's cross pizza for next Saturday, and something of a "Last 8" canapé platter - with Argentina and Brazil[2]
causing me a bit of a problem... (LOL!)

[1] German actor/singer; his 1984 album “Bochum” is the best selling German language record of all time. Fittingly, his “Zeit, dass sich was dreht”/Celebrate the day (2006), is the official FIFA 2006 anthem!
[2] That is, assuming that Brazil will beat Ghana – which, according to Ozzy, is not going to happen... After his adventure in Germany he’s an ardent Ghana supporter – which reminds me, I have to dash off and get his Ghana shirt washed and ready for tomorrow... Tooodleloo!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Der Ball ist rund - World Cup 2006 in Germany

Finally, the first day of the World Cup, and my first glass of beer after a teetotal period of four or five weeks now. Had to give that poor liver of mine a bit of a break. Unfortunately, I didn’t even lose any weight, which surprised (and annoyed !) me. I think this was due to creating non-alcoholic cocktails, which use a lot of fruit juice, and probably were more calorific than the beer I’m drinking at the moment – Jever light – which is low-cal and low-alc. I bought myself a crate of the stuff when I was over in Germany.
Now there’s a country with REAL football fever!! There was no way at all that you could have missed that the World Cup is upon us soon! There were flags and footballs in every shop’s display, whether it was a bakery or a pharmacist’s. And anything, from bikinis to foldable chairs, was available in Germany’s colours, Schwarz-Rot-Gold. (I was very tempted by a beach towel to drape over the best seat in the living room...). But just in case you now think that Germany is as flag obsessed and singularly patriotic as England – the Schwarz-Rot-Gold isn’t the only flag you can see. Wherever you went there were products with the flags of every other team that plays in the tournament, and a lot of the buntings were also a bright, multi-flag affair, which lends a wonderful festival atmosphere, as opposed to the slightly menacing air of only England flags everywhere, and nothing but white and red face paint...
My favourite item was a shirt with a little velcro patch and a variety of small flags, so that you could change allegiance, depending on which match you are watching or when your own team has been eliminated...
I’m very happy that it’s so international in Germany, and the only reason why I would like to display a Schwarz-Rot-Gold here would be to introduce a bit of variety (4 years ago on a campsite in Dorset, we put a Welsh flag up for that very reason), but this allegedly tolerant society really isn’t when it comes to football – time and time again, German cars are scratched after matches, and my Brazilian friend had a brick through her window when she displayed a Brazilian flag. So I shall keep it all indoors, with my selection of little flags and football inspired food. Today, for the Germany match: Black Tagliatelle, Red Sauce and Yellow Peppers.And as far as support is concerned: this time, for the first time, I really feel I have to support Germany, because Lehmann, their goalie, is from my home town of Essen and used to play (early in his career) for Schwarz-Weiß Essen (in the 4th league, I think), the team my Dad supported. But of course, I’ll be supporting England, when they play, we’ll also look out for Togo and Ghana and any other underdog who takes our fancy. And should Brazil win the World Cup for the 6th time, I won’t cry either – after all, we all know they play the most beautiful game!!