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‘More than just a sausage’: German Currywurst Museum closing after 10 years

After nearly a decade, the Deutsches Currywurst Museum will be closing its doors permanently at the end of this week. The final day to visit the interactive exhibition dedicated to Berlin’s most beloved street food is Friday, December 21st.

'More than just a sausage': German Currywurst Museum closing after 10 years
The Currywurst Museum's fitting mascot waves hello (and goodbye) to visitors. Photo: Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin

The idea for the Berlin-based museum was first conceived by local entrepreneur Martin Löwer in 2005. Dedicated to bringing the history of Berlin’s favourite sausage snack to life, Löwer spent nearly four years developing the project: coordinating investments, designing the concept, and overseeing the construction.

Over the years, the museum has hosted over one million visitors at its Schützenstraße location, all of whom were eager to learn a little more about Berlin’s most popular street food. The exhibition will be wrapping up its successful run with the expiration of its lease at the end of 2018.

For now, the contents of the exhibit – including the sausage-shaped sofa – will be removed from the space and placed into storage, awaiting their re-incarnation as a travelling exhibit which, according to the museum, is intended to serve as “a culinary ambassador to make the cult snack from Berlin even better known internationally”.

If you find yourself in need of a break, the sausage-shaped sofa is the perfect place to relish in the quirkiness of the museum. Photo: Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin.

More than just a sausage

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the invention of the Currywurst, the museum officially opened its doors on August 15th, 2009, welcoming visitors with the slogan: “Currywurst is more than just a sausage – it’s one of life’s experiences in Germany.”

SEE ALSO: Currywurst museum coming to Berlin (2009)

Located just around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie, the museum offers a playful engagement with Berlin’s Cold War history. As soon as you are inside, you can dive right into Currywurst culture by picking up a ketchup bottle at one of two audio stations and hum along to Herbert Grönemeyer’s 1982 tune about the street food.

Visitors ketch-ing up on the history on currywurst. Photo: Deutsches Currywurst Museum.

In the main area of the museum, visitors are invited to follow a trail of the famous Currywurst sauce as they learn more about the popular street food. A large map of Berlin, dotted with sausage bites representing vendors across the city, shows visitors where they’ll be able to to find another taste of Berlin’s Currywurst culture after their visit is over.

Currywurst aficionados can take photos posing as a sausage seller in a life-sized Wurst stand or test your on-the-job skills by playing a virtual Currywurst-making game aptly called “Curry Up!”.

Beyond the more entertaining aspects of the museum, the museum also addresses the history of the Currywurst. Setting aside long-standing disputes about the origins of the dish, the museum shines a spotlight on Berlin-based entrepreneur Herta Heuwer as its’ official inventor.

Her culinary genius is placed in the context of postwar Berlin, where ingenuity and improvisation were necessary to overcome the challenges associated with economic recovery.

From a sausage stand to international fame

According to the narrative produced here, Heuwer began by selling snacks from a hawker’s tray until she’d saved enough to buy an old van and convert it into a sausage stand.

It was there, at her stand at the corner of Kantstrstraße and Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße in Berlin-Charlottenburg, that Heuwer first began serving her tasty creation in September of 1949. Within just a few months, she opened a second stand nearby. Altogether, nineteen staff worked for her, sizzling sausages around the clock for over 25 years.

SEE ALSO: Currywurst – the Berlin dish that wouldn't exist without the British

Although Heuwer patented what she called her ‘Chillup’ sauce in 1959, she took her famed recipe to the grave when she passed on in 1999. However, her legacy certainly lives on with Berliners eating an estimated 70 million portions of Currywurst each year.

A man eating a typical portion of currywurst and pommes in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In fact, you don’t even have to be in Berlin, or even in Germany, to get a taste of a Currywurst anymore. The museum reminds us that you can also enjoy the dish in many places around the world, ranging from Tokyo’s Roppongi district to one of Canada’s offshore islands.

With only a few opening days left, the once over-loaded shelves of the museum’s gift shop are almost bare and only a few visitors mill about the exhibition space. One visitor, Emma Woodward from the U.K., reflects on her recently completed visit, “It’s a very quirky museum. The best part was ‘cooking’ the Currywurst.” Between bites of the complimentary Currywurst provided by the museum to every guest with a ticket, she quickly adds, “It’s a real shame that it’s closing.”

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FOOD & DRINK

Five of France’s new Michelin foodie hotspots

As Michelin publishes its 2022 guide, here are five of the most exciting new entries into the hallowed 'bible' of French gastronomy.

Five of France's new Michelin foodie hotspots

Here are five must-visit venues of gastronomic delight for food lovers.

READ ALSO New Michelin guide celebrates ‘resilient’ French cuisine

Plénitude – Paris

It’s only been open seven months, but the Paris restaurant – on the first floor of Cheval Blanc Paris – now has three stars, awarded to chef Arnaud Donckele in Cognac on Tuesday. Picking up three stars all at once is almost unheard of – only Yannick Alléno achieved the same feat in 2015 with the Pavillon Ledoyen in the 8th arrondissement.

Broths, vinaigrettes, creams, veloutés, juices are at the heart of the cuisine at Plénitude. A seasonal six-course Symphony Menu costs €395, while the Sail Away Together menu of three savoury dishes and one sweet is €320.

La Villa Madie – Cassis, Bouches-du-Rhône

Another new three-star venue listed in this year’s guide came as something of a surprise, by all accounts. Dimitri and Marielle Droisneau’s restaurant in the south of France overlooks the Mediterranean.

“We took this house nine years ago. We had a baby, we have a second one now. We live in the villa. We work in a paradise,” chef Dimitri said at the ceremony in Cognac.

The cuisine follows the seasons, and uses carefully selected local produce. As such, the menu changes daily according to what’s available. The Menu Anse de Corton – a starter, a fish course, a meat course, and a sweet treat – costs €130, while the six-course Menu Espasado “Cap Canaille” is €180.

Plaza Athénée – Paris

Top Chef series three winner Jean Imbert was one of a number of former contestants on the show to win a star for his restaurant in the palace le Plaza Athénée – with the jury praising his “impressive revival of the greatest classics of French gastronomy”.

Guillaume Pape – a finalist in series 10, also picked up his first star for  L’Ebrum, in Brest; as did series nine finalist Victor Mercier, for FIEF in the ninth arrondissement, honoured for producing “empowering cuisine, made exclusively using French produce”. Mercier was also named Young Chef of the Year.

The self-titled Menu de Jean at Plaza Athénée costs €296

Villa La Coste – Bouches-du-Rhône

Continuing the Top Chef theme, judge Hélène Darroze – who already runs the three-star Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London – was awarded a star for her restaurant in the south of France, as was fellow-judge Philippe Etchebest for his latest venture in Bordeaux.

Local vegetables and fruit are the stars of the dining show at Villa La Coste, with meat and fish playing an accompanying role. A three-course lunch menu is €75, while a full dinner menu is €155.

Domaine Riberach: La Coopérative – Bélesta, Ariège 

One of six new restaurants to be awarded a Green Star for its seasonal food and it’s determined approach to ‘sustainable gastronomy’. This year’s six Green Star winners join 81 establishments which received the award last year in France.

“Slow food” is the order of the day, with menus created based – as is often the case – on the seasons, the market and chef Julien Montassié’s instinct. The chief rule is that food must be local – “0 km is our motto”, boasts the website.

The six-course Menu Latitude is €85 without wine. A three-course Menu Km0 is €49 – and a children’s two-course menu is €18.

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