Friday, August 26, 2011


My previous blog dealt with the döner the owner of a fast food in Seattle, Wash. is marketing as Berlin food although it was the Turks who introduced the döner kebap in Germany. Now, here comes the currywurst which indeed was invented and first eaten in Berlin.

Let Wikipedia enlighten us: Currywurst (German pronunciation: [ˈkœʁiˌvʊʁst]) is a fast-food dish of German origin consisting of hot pork sausage (German: Wurst) cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup, regularly consisting of ketchup or tomato paste blended with generous amounts of curry powder, or a ready-made ketchup-based sauce seasoned with curry and other spices. It is frequently served at German 'Imbissbuden' and from food trucks.
The invention of currywurst is attributed to Herta Heuwer in Berlin in 1949 after she obtained ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and curry powder from British soldiers. She mixed these ingredients with other spices and poured it over grilled pork sausage. Heuwer started selling the cheap but filling snack at a street stand in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin where it became popular with construction workers rebuilding the devastated city.

Today, currywurst ... is popular all over Germany but particularly popular in the metropolitan areas of Berlin, Hamburg and the Ruhr Area. Considerable variation both in the type of sausage used and the ingredients of the sauce occurs between these areas. Common variations include the addition of paprika or chopped onions. Often currywurst is sold in food booths, sometimes using a special machine to slice it into pieces, and served on a paper plate with a little wooden or plastic fork.

An estimated 800 million servings are sold in Germany each year (Photo Wikipedia)

The actual reason why I write about the currywurst was an ironic comment in yesterday's Badische Zeitung. In Germany we have two rates of VAT: 19% on most goods and services and a reduced rate of 7% on, e. g., books and notably food. So you pay 7% on pet food but 19% on pampers, the reason - as some people claim - that in Germany we have more dogs than babies. Now here comes the question: What is the VAT rate on a currywurst served on a paper plate at a sausage stand?

At long last our Federal Financial Supreme Court (Bundesfinanzhof) ruled the following: The rate is 7% for food when the vendor hands the wurst over to you and you eat it standing. If however the stand offers a bench or chairs for sitting and you actually sit down this situation is amalgamated with a restaurant and you pay 19% on services. Crazy, and who is going check this?

Well, I checked the situation on Freiburg's Münster market. Three of the now eight wurst stands offer currywurst but no places to sit. However, another thing struck me. In spite of the recent opening of the market there still is no competition: All vendors charge a uniform price of € 2.50 for a currywurst.

Please note the English influence on German orthography: Uhl's using the Saxon genitive is wrong in German; it must be Uhls but many shops and eateries find it stylish to use what we call the Deppenapostroph (goof's apostrophe) with the German genitive.

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