Underappreciated outside Germany, will the currywurst win new fans at Euro 2024?

BERLIN (AP) — Bite-sized bliss. The currywurst is considered a fast-food delicacy in Germany, and a perfect treat before a game.

UEFA has confirmed that soccer fans from across Europe will find this savory German invention on offer at stadiums throughout the country during the European Championship, which kicks off on Friday.

The pork sausage garnished with curry sauce is usually presented on a pristine white cardboard platter with a two-pronged plastic fork. It can be served with skin or without – visiting fans will have developed their own preference by the end of the month-long tournament.

While its origins are contested, the currywurst has a special place in the food culture of Berlin.

“Our city is all about currywurst, and I think our city can’t live without currywurst. Whoever comes to Berlin has to try currywurst to know what the city’s about,” said Linda Konnopke, who helps run her family's popular fast-food joint in the German capital’s Prenzlauer Berg district.

Her great-grandparents Max and Charlotte Konnopke first began selling sausages from their portable grill in 1930, and the family-run business has since become an institution famous for its currywurst, which Günter Konnopke, their son, introduced to East Berlin in 1960. It was an immediate hit. The recipe is still a closely guarded family secret.

“Our absolute highlight is our currywurst without skin. That’s our biggest seller,” Linda Konnopke said.

The currywurst is usually sliced into convenient bite-sized portions. It can be doused in ketchup and sprinkled with curry powder, but some vendors – like Konnopke’s – will use their own specific curry sauce.

A woman named Herta Heuwer is largely credited with its invention. Heuwer was one of thousands of Berlin’s “Trümmerfrauen,” or rubble women, who helped clear the wreckage left after World War II, and afterward she ran her own fast-food business in the borough of Charlottenburg in the west of the city.

Some say Heuwer was bored one day and decided to experiment with the ingredients she had; others that she ran out of mustard and needed an alternative. Either way, she claimed to have invented the currywurst on Sept. 4, 1949.

Berlin proclaimed itself the “currywurst capital” on a plaque honoring Heuwer where she sold her first currywurst, but there are rival claims from Hamburg and the Ruhr area in western Germany.

At the German Cup final in Berlin last month, Kaiserslautern fan Luisa Albert said she prefers the currywurst in Kaiserslautern, which is in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. As stadium food, she said, it’s always a winner.

“Currywurst is the best thing you can eat before a game,” she said. “It gives you the strength to cheer and celebrate and do everything.”

Fans attending games at Berlin’s Olympiastadion will be able to get their currywurst from Hertha Berlin supporter Ollie Brandt, who has been offering fast-food outside the stadium for more than 40 years.

Brandt takes great pride in offering currywurst sausages manufactured to another longstanding family recipe, but he doesn’t think much of currywurst from outside the capital.

“If you go to the Rhineland, for example, you get a grilled sausage that’s smeared with a sort of curry sauce sold as a currywurst. But that’s no currywurst,” Brandt said as he held up a package of his own sausages. “This here is a real currywurst.”

Brandt said fans would simply have to try the different types and styles to determine their favorite.

“We have I don’t know how many thousands of snack bars all over Berlin, East and West. Everyone does it differently. It doesn’t taste the same anywhere, but it’s still simply unique,” Brandt said. “You have to try it.”


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