Saturday, September 26, 2009

Berlin's "War of the Wursts"

From a recent article in the N.Y. Times:
Jürgen Stiller regularly stands outside Berlin’s historic Friedrichstrasse train station with a four-pound canister of flammable propane strapped to his back. But if a police officer approaches him, it is only to buy one of the hot bratwurst sizzling on the flaming grill suspended from his shoulders.

Mr. Stiller works as a Grillwalker, a one-man mobile sausage-cooking machine. He and his colleagues can be seen around the capital, turning their browning bratwursts with tongs and tempting pedestrians with the scent of cooking meat wafting from their grills.

The itinerant sausage salesman is so successful here that copycats have sprung up, leading local newspapers to talk of a “War of the Wursts,” at locations like the famous Alexanderplatz, heavy with foot traffic and therefore potential customers, where they compete head to head.

It is also a sign of how seriously Germans still take their sausages, in a country where records show the Thuringian bratwurst dates from at least 1432, and in a city where an entire museum opened in August dedicated to the other local favorite, the spicy Currywurst.

They are a hit with local commuters thanks to the low price — an inexpensive $1.75 for a bratwurst in a roll with mustard or ketchup.

Tourists unaccustomed to seeing a kitchen stroll around on two feet gawk, gape and take pictures. Mr. Stiller estimated that he is photographed more than 30 times a day.

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