gmarquardt has an M.A. in history and German from SWTSU and has over 30 years teaching experience at public high schools.
Either Way, You've Made the Right Choice!
When in Germany, you’ve got some important decisions to make. What to see, where to stay, which museums to visit, which castles to explore, what mountain trails to hike, and the most important choice of all, whether to eat a bratwurst or a currywurst.
That choice is not an easy one. For years, Germans have had moments of indecision when asked what they would like for lunch. Lines at the local fast food restaurant (an Imbiss) start to get longer, customers begin to get impatient, and there you are, stumped. You’d better know the difference.
The local Imbiss is a fast food truck, trailer, kiosk, cafe, bar or restaurant that serves grilled and fried foods. These are not healthy meals, but rather quick and fulfilling street food, German style. Competing with the famous Turkish Döner sandwich for popularity, the Bratwurst and Currywurst are German fast food at their finest. bratwurst and currywurst are eaten inside factories, next to town halls, at cafes on the Rhine river, in the Alp mountains, next to gothic cathedrals and on the fast paced boulevards of Berlin. Located in advantageous locations throughout Germany, some Imbiss move from place to place or are geographically situated next to a large factory for maximum exposure.
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For a quick lunch, nothing beats the ease and cost of a bratwurst. Made from veal and pork, there are a large variety of bratwürste. Every region has their own unique and special ingredients. Names, sizes, lengths and cooking methods differ, but one thing is for sure, locals know exactly what they want and what a "real" bratwurst is. Generally served on a brötchen (a bread roll) or a paper plate, mustard is the preferred condiment. Side dishes for sausages at cafes or pubs include fries and potato salad. Ketchup is very common, but it is not for the sausages, it is for the fries. Next to the ketchup will be mayonnaise as many Germans prefer their fries with mayonnaise. Some ask for pommes rot-weiss (red and white) and get both ketchup and mayonnaise slathered on their fries. For the most part, street venues offer sausages as a snack to be eaten on its own with just a little mustard.
Thüringer Rostbratwurst, cut in half and served in a roll.
However, if they are in the mood for something different, a currywurst will light up the taste buds. A genuine currywurst is a deep-fried sausage that has a curry sauce generously poured on it and curry powder liberally applied on the top to ramp up the flavor. Every fast food stand has their own take on it, just like hamburger stands throughout the United States have their own variations of burgers. Currywurst is a product of eclectic Berlin, where different immigrant cultures have made their marks on much of the domestic cuisine. The sausage is not a bratwurst, however, but rather it is a cured and lightly smoked sausage made with pork and beef and is red, not white.
Outside of Berlin, one often finds a bratcurry in lieu of a currywurst. The menu will state currywurst, but no Berliner would call it as such. The practice is to take a normal bratwurst, cut it into one inch slices and serve it with a curry sauce. This is never done in Berlin, where they consider the practice "just plain wrong." Curry sauces run the gamut from ultra spicy to mild and sweet. Some small restaurants make their own curry sauces with varying degrees of heat and with different, unique spices. One can purchase curry ketchup at the supermarket in Germany and often now in the United States. I often grill up a couple of brats and serve it up with a big dollop of curry ketchup. No two Germans will ever agree as to the best bratwurst or currywurst, but they also refuse to argue with their mouths full!