It takes one a little while to understand the offerings, I will add. Will it be Käsekrainer (a sausage studded with bits of cheese, and totally disgusting in my opinion)? How about a Debreziner, a spicy Hungarian sausage, or a Bosna, the Austrian equivalent? Do not ask me to tell them apart. Some stands offer the Berliner Currywurst, a sausage doused in ketchup and sprinkled with curry powder (Anna Grace’s favorite); and most offer the common Bratwurst and plain old Frankfurter for those whose mind goes Tilt with the many choices. For the most part, whatever you order will pretty much look like this: sausage, bread, mustard, and perhaps fresh grated horseradish.
On my outandabout I read in the paper that today is, “Tag des Würstelstand,” or Day of the Sausage Stand. The Wiener Würstelstand is as much a part of the city’s culinary culture as, perhaps, the Wiener Schnitzel. The stands began popping up during the Empire as a way for war invalids to earn income. For the most part the stands were mobile; it was not until the 1960’s when licenses were granted to allow the stands a permanent location.
One of the more popular stands here is Bitzinger, officially and conveniently residing near the Vienna State Opera and the Albertina museum, two sights on every tourist list. It is very modern in style, and quite often has something crazy parked on its roof.
Most of the stands have a groovy retro feel to them, like this “Hot Dog” stand that also offers “Happy Noodles” in the touristy InnerStadt. Competition from the many noodle stands has forced sausage vendors to keep pace, so it’s not surprising to find all kinds of street food offerings at these stands. There is even a stand that sells “Schnitzel in a Box,” a sliced chicken cutlet atop a box of pommes frites.
Who holds claim to Vienna’s oldest Würstelstand? Believe it or not, the Leo Würstelstand up in my neck of the woods! More than 80 years old, and still going strong. I doubt it sees any tourists at all.
As much as I embrace the culinary treasures of my adopted country, I have to confess that I am not a big fan of the Wiener Würstelstand. For me, the only sausage is the Polish kielbasa, a sausage of ground pork and veal spiced with garlic, stuffed into hog intestines and smoked. Perfection like that can’t be mass produced in a Würstelstand. 😉