It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man (or woman) in possession of a German passport must be in want of a good quality sausage.
No, you filthy minded lot, not that kind of sausage. I know the Germans have a reputation for naked saunas and man bags, but they’re not all after a bit of that, thank you very much. I’m talking about the kind of sausage that you can chuck on the barbie and eat with mustard. The German nation must be the most sausage-loving in the world, and as I come from the home of the beloved Cumberland, I’m authorised to hand this accolade to them.
There are so many varieties of sausage in this country that Wikipedia has FORTY-THREE separate pages dedicated to the main varieties of German Wurst, and some sources suggest there are 1,200 different types of sausage in Germany. Surely there are only so many ways you can process the bits of a pig that nobody wants to actually eat and find a way to flog it to the masses? Those genius Germans have certainly been creative, and this goes way, way beyond those rubbery frankfurters we all know and love. (As a side note, long before frankfurters became the domain of hot dog stands and baseball games, they were actually a delicacy served to honour the coronations of Holy Roman Emperors in Frankfurt. Every sausage has it’s tale.) . Let’s take a look at a cross-section of German sausage culture.
We will start our in-wurst-igation (see what I did there) with the most famous sausage in the world. Hailed everywhere from Munich to the drunken streets around Newcastle’s Christmas market and even in the US as the mother of all sausages: the Bratwurst. A relatively run-of-the-mill sausage consisting of ground pork, the first evidence of the Bratwurst recipe can be found in 1313 from Nuremberg. And if you thought a Bratwurst is just a Bratwurst, think again my friend. Hello, we’re talking about the country that has 5,000 beer brands here; of course they’re not going to settle for one Bratwurst recipe. No, the Germans have come up with over 40. Four Zero. The mind boggles! Bratwurst recipes vary by region, but almost always come served with a huge dollop of Sauerkraut (good luck digesting that) and something carby and colourless (this is German cuisine, after all). If you’re a real fan of this one, you may want to visit the undoubtedly thrilling Bratwurst museum in Holzhausen, where a giant Bratwurst statue even graces a roundabout in the otherwise picturesque town, not looking questionable at all.
Moving on to another famous staple of German sausage folklore: Currywurst. The sausage itself is a plain old Bratwurst, but this one packs punch: sliced and drowning in a sea of curry-flavoured sauce, it doesn’t taste much like sausage at all and looks a bit like something your dog barfed up, but it is the ultimate comfort food. This treat was created by Herta Heuwa, who managed to obtain ketchup and curry powder from some British soldiers in 1949 Berlin (those soldiers missed a trick there) and created this satisfying snack, which has since cemented itself as a celebrated part of German culture. 800 million currywursts are consumed every year in Germany, and I have to admit I ‘modestly’ contributed to that statistic… Fun fact: every Berlin mayoral candidate has to be photographed at a currywurst stand. Ich bin ein Currywurst.
Another famous Wurst you may have heard of is the Bavarian Weißwurst. A white, flaccid looking veal sausage, in the days before fridges were invented the sausage was made fresh in the morning and eaten before noon because the lack of smoking and preservatives meant the meat would spoil quickly. Therefore it forms part of the traditional Bavarian breakfast – white sausage, Brezel, sweet mustard, and beer. Hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere! The traditional way of eating it involves removing the skin at the end and sucking it all out. And yes, I’m still talking about sausages. What were you thinking about?
So now you’re feeling deliciously hungry, it’s time to put you off any thoughts of dinner you might be entertaining. Now we, of the UK descent, know that sausages contain all the ‘shit bits’. We just don’t think about it when we’re tucking in to our bangers and mash, because once it’s all processed, who knows if it’s a bit of brain that you’re eating? Well, the Germans don’t shy away from this. They will put everything in that sausage, and they’re not going to hide it. I’m not talking here about Blutwurst or Rotwurst, the blood sausage. The Germans aren’t unique there and we have black pudding. No, I’m talking about Zungenwurst. Zunge = tongue. And whilst I’m not going to disagree that tongue is quite a tasty meat in the right circumstances (preferably shitfaced ones), I don’t need to eat it pickled and cooked whole in a giant meatloaf-like blood and oatmeal sausage.
I like many of the German sausages, but they’re often over processed for my delicate English taste buds. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a Cumberland sausage. If you’re planning to visit… 😉