German Currywurst Like No Other

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Where to Eat in Germany

Treat Yourself to German Currywurst

One great joy of hiking in countries (or regions) other than your own is that it gives you the opportunity of sampling the delicacies of the various local cuisines.

"Sliced German Currywurst - Bratwurst bathed in Curry sauce with a side dish of french fries"

And of establishing that one man’s “greasy spoon snack” is another man’s national dish.

National dishes, incidentally, say a lot about their respective countries. The Anglo-Indian fusion dish Chicken Tikka, for example, expresses Britain’s love for her colonies, but also her insistence on the right of determining the terms of the cultural integration process, whereas the French Andouillette, farmyard food par excellence, befits a largely urban nation that prides itself of its links with a – largely mythical – France profonde of convivial inns, rotund patrons and heavy lunches.

Germany’s Currywurst, by contrast, is a very humble dish. It is the national dish of a people who make it a point to defy Latin “food culture”, being ostentatiously unsubtle and deliberately unrefined.

It is also based on a cultural misunderstanding: the resemblance with an Indian “curry” is largely linguistic, and what you get on your plate is basically a sliced sausage bathed in a sharp spicy tomato sauce.

You can find the Currywurst, as befits a proper national dish, virtually anywhere in Germany these days. You can taste it during your stay in Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, but its true home is the Ruhrgebiet, Germany’s industrial heartland.

Most people here have their own favourite Imbissbude (German snack bars) and will probably swear by it, but of all the thousands of snack bars in the region, the renown of only one has spread far beyond the river Ruhr.

This is the Profi-Grill in Bochum-Wattenscheid: TV stations have reported about it, and national newspapers (including the German version of The Financial Times) and magazines like the German Playboy, have featured it in their Lifestyle sections.

"The front of the Profi-Grill where to get your German Currywurst in Bochumer St. in Germany"

From the outside, the Profi-Grill looks quaintly old-fashioned, as though it was stuck in the 1960s, and the inside of the place – formica tables, a slot machine, rubber tablecloths – looks much like any other.

If you have an eye for detail, however, you may notice that several of the parking spaces in front of the Profi-Grill are occupied by sports cars and large Volvo limousines that sit uncomfortably in the slightly neglected neighbourhood of the Bochumer Strasse.

In fact, the Profi-Grill is not an Imbissbude like any other

It has been owned for 20 years by Raimund Ostendorp who was trained in a series of gourmet restaurants, including a 3-star haute cuisine temple in Düsseldorf, before he decided that he had enough of truffles, langoustines and scallops in fennel sauce.

Instead of opening a nice and perfectly respectable mid-range restaurant in a nice part of town, however, Ostendorp went straight from one extreme of the food universe to the other, acquiring an Imbissbude in the heart of the rigorously working-class Ruhrgebiet, serving meatballs, fried potatoes and sausages to his blue-collar clientele seven days a week.

Still, once a gourmet cook, always a gourmet cook: Ostendorp does not just serve any Currywurst – he has his carefully selected producer: a proper butcher, not an industrial manufacturer, and he only uses his own, home-made sauce, “built up”, as he says, from natural ingredients.

And honestly: it’s really good. The sausage is delicious, much better than anything you will ever get in a supermarket, and the sauce is well-rounded, not too sweet, not too spicy. I actually never knew that a Currywurst could taste so good.

"No more where to get your German Currywurst - An empty plate with traces of currywurst sauce"

Curious? Don’t miss this German Currywurst like no other if you are anywhere near the Ruhrgebiet. From the Bochum central train station, take Strassenbahn line 302 to Gelsenkirchen-Buer, calling at Centrumplatz on Bochumer Strasse. Cross the road and look for no. 96. Profi-Grill is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

22 comments to German Currywurst Like No Other

  • Sometimes we just have to go back to the beginning. Sounds like this is where Mr Ostendorp needed to be and diners in fancy cars have found his spot. Good post, Michael. I can see from your plate you really enjoyed it.

  • Ah, yes, Katrina, the fries were perfection. Ask Mrs Easy Hiker. She had it with mayo.

  • I want the fries. Where I am it’s too hot to eat something heavy like meat, but for some reason fries appeal. Mmmnnom nom. Salt nom nom. Curry… mmm!

  • Jools, Berlin is being claimed as the birthplace of Currywurst, and to be disappointed with Currywurst there can only mean you didn’t go to the right culinary institution.

  • OK, my first experience of currywurst in Berlin was so disappointing that I thought I hadn’t had ‘the real thing’ at all, until I was disappointed a second time in Leipzig. Absolutely slathered in runny ketchup and just some tuemric sprinkled on a very ordinary suasage. Now I am very much at one with mr sausage normally, but could not see what all the fuss was about. But this looks a lot more interesting. I’m prepared to give it a whirl if I ever find myself in the area!

  • I’ve lived in Germany for almost a year now, off and on, and still haven’t tried currywurst. I must fix that soon!

  • Good to know about this place. I love food stories like that. There were a few renowned chefs in the US lately that have taken over ‘diners’.
    I had currywurst in Berlin (in Prenzlauer Berg). And while I LOVE street food, I have to admit…I still prefer a sausage (or what seems to be a glorified hot dog) with Mustard! :)

  • Jeremy Branham

    I agree with Andrew that German food is simple and delicious. I like that aspect of it. I am not a big fan of hot food but love the variety of styles (and sauces) that can be served with simple sausage. The food looks delicious and simple in its presentation (which is obvious by the clean plate!).

  • Yum indeed…this foodie is now starving!

  • Robert, nobody wants to take away the Currywurst from the Berliners nor the credit of inventing it. It’s an “adopted child” of the Ruhrgebiet, but so are most of its inhabitants too. It’s the perfect match. And thanks for the tip about Konnopke’s Imbiss. We’ll certainly check that out next time we’re in Berlin.

  • Mrs Easy Hiker totally agrees with you on that, Debbie, which is why she happily agrees to do these walks.

  • I’ve always been led to believe that Currywurst was invented in Berlin by Herta Heuwer. I’m going to have to take a look at the counter-claims of Ruhrgebiet now. I’ll certainly be checking out Profi-Grill if I’m ever in the area regardless of where the snack originates though!

  • Wow…what an epicurean adventure in wurstland. Great post and very appetizing too!! Good to last lick of the plate!

  • Forgot to add, hiking allows you eat wurst and frites without fear of expanding you waistband!

  • German food is comfort food to me! I would love this currywurst. In fact, I’ve not met a wurst I didn’t like :)

  • To be clear, there really is no question that Currywurst originates in Berlin. The Ruhrgebiet can’t really “claim” it, except in the sense that they’ve adapted it. Es lebe Konnopke’s Imbiß!

  • Traditional German food can be comforting alright, Andrew. But it’s slowly being pushed out of the menu by the arrival of fancy bistros and snack bars like Subway. Happily, there are still some establishments that have survived where one can still enjoy them as our grandparents have.

  • You certainly would have to, Steve. That plate of sausage and its French fries was wiped out in a few minutes.

  • I really like the unsophisticated aspect of German cooking. It feels more comforting than the fancy stuff. French food seems often too fancy for its own good. Most Italian places are better at just simple good dishes. Germans too.

    I have heard Currywurst claimed by both Ruhr and Berlin. Like most foods there will be a fight. My favorite place in Freiburg does any degree of hot for you. I can get to a 7 to clear out my sinuses and they go higher. Quite nice compared to normal lack of spice in German food.

  • Sausage in sauce? Sounds like a great meal to me. Guess I’ll have to get my own though, because it doesn’t look like I’ll be stealing a bite off your plate!

  • It’s worth the trip. When we were there, guests in there came with their flashy cars.

  • Interesting background on Raimund Ostendorp – cool that he set up shop in that working class neighborhood. I’ve never had currywurst, but would most definitely like to try in his restaurant.

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