SAUSAGE SALES ARE UP. Unbelievable. What is it about sausages? We all eat them at one time or other, despite the fact that everyone knows they are made of disgusting things such as minced cowlip, desiccated pig testicles and the semi-decomposed underpants of farmers. Yet we knowingly put them in our mouths! How come?
My theory is that powerful biochemicals released when sausages are sizzled cause a temporary brain shut-down.
In Germany recently, your humble narrator was served sausages (called “wurst”) every day for breakfast, including one apparently made of coarsely minced Frenchmen seasoned with alpine gravel.
On every street corner was a sausage stand.
In some cities, one-man mobile sausage kitchens circulated.
Guys with stoves strapped to their chest follow you around, frying sausages and wafting the smell at you in a threatening manner.
Meat-eating is HUGE in that country. The German Vegetarian Association said last week that “the average citizen eats four cows, four calves, four sheep and 46 pigs per year”.
Per year? No way. My hosts and I got through easily that much meat per meal. Each.
Last week, Europeans flocked to Hungary, which hosts an annual Sausage Festival. Participants get to actually kill a pig and then make it into sausages. They say that personal acquaintance with the pig improves the flavor of the sausage, but I doubt this. Who (other than Mike Tyson) would want to chomp into a buddy?
By my fourth day in Europe, I was missing Asian food. I raced away from a tourist spot (with half a dozen heavily-armed sausage-friers in pursuit) to find something spicy.
At a junction near a statue of someone holding something (probably the first sausage, invented in 1432) I smelt something pungent, mouth-watering and cumin-flavored. It had to be either an Indian restaurant or Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai.
Unfortunately it was neither. Turning a corner I saw the aroma came from a street-food stand steaming gently in the below-freezing temperature. It sold something called Currywurst. This turned out to be a sausage with curry sauce poured over it.
The vendor explained in detail. “The sausage is topped with curry sauce, which is thick, creamy, tangy, spicy sauce made with coriander and cumin,” he said.
I couldn't believe it. A European guy was trying to explain to an Asian what curry is.
He also told me that this was now considered the ultimate German food.
A Museum of Currywurst recently opened, describing how curry sauce was invented by a Berlin housewife. On every TV station, politicians pose with sausages in curry sauce to make sure they are seen as patriots. Moviemakers have produced a documentary called “Best of the Wurst”.
Most shockingly, I was told that several European companies have started exporting currywurst to Asia. The boss of the Currywurst Museum, Birgit Breloh, said: "No other German national dish inspires such excitement as the currywurst.”
So there we have it. Curry is now a European invention which they are sharing with us Asians out of the kindness of their hearts. How very kind of them. The world has gone mad.
Having said that, I ate a plate of currywurst and it wasn’t bad. But I’d still prefer to get my teeth into a real Asian dish. Aishwarya, where are you?