Contrary to how it sounds, the wurst of Germany is actually one of its best things. The German word for sausages, wursts are an integral component of German cuisine just like beer, bread, and potatoes. Around 1500 varieties of German wurst exist in Germany and nearly every German state, city and sometimes even towns have their own special sausages. Each claim that their own signature way to mince, mix and stuff meat, bacon, salt and spices into an edible casing, is the best. The reality is that they are all super delicious and for a big meat eater like me, the wursts are one of my favourite things about Germany.
The basics of German wurst
German wursts are broadly differentiated into three basic types. They are Kochwurst which are cooked sausages available in over 350 types. Then there is the scalded Brühwurst, in which over 800 subtypes exist. Finally, there are the raw sausages called Rohwurst which are very easy to prepare in different ways. Over 60 varieties of Rohwurst are available in Germany and they can be eaten cold, sliced, warm or hot. Of all these three types, the scalded Brühwurst is the most popular. The 800 varieties of Brühwurst come in a mind-boggling mix of meat, spices and invariably with some finely crushed ice. Since their preparation includes dunking in hot water or steam, Brühwurst is considered as scalded sausages. The most popular Brühwurst are Fleischwurst, Bierwurst, Bierschinken, Paprikawurst, and my personal favourite Zigeunerwurst which literally means “gypsy sausage”.
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The most popular German wurst to go
Würstchen is deemed to be the most famous of the German wurst. It has an impressive sub-variety which consists of the very popular Bockwurst, Frankfurter, Wiener, Nurnberger (also known as Thuringian sausage) and the very famous Weisswurst, which is the mainstay of Munich‘s Oktoberfest. Traditions claim that the white Weisswurst is to be consumed before noon with sweet mustard, fresh pretzel and a hearty mug of real Bavarian beer. Along with attached traditions, some German wursts also have very interesting history and it is said that Frankfurter originated in Frankfurt in 1592 to be served at the coronation of King Maximilian. Though a sausage custom made fit for royalty, it is happily the most popular wurst the world over and can be found at every corner of Germany. Similarly, the Wiener comes with a story of a sausage maker from Frankfurt, who migrated to Vienna in the 17th century. There he set up a Frankfurter shop which unfortunately did not fare well among the locals. To survive, he modified it a bit, put the finely chopped sausage in a crunchy casing and called it Wiener. This Vienna sausage not only became a huge hit but several centuries later another German immigrant, Oscar Meyer took it with him to the United States where it became immensely popular.
My introduction to the German wurst
Before I married a German man and moved to Germany, my knowledge of sausages was laughably poor. I liked them, found them delicious and that‘s about it. My new German family and friends took them quite seriously and there hardly any event (read barbecue) which did not include these delicious meaty delights. Eventually, I learned to differentiate between them and even though, I still cannot always tell a bratwurst from a bockwurst, German wursts never fail to tempt me. My favourite among them is the thick juicy grilling sausage called the Bratwurst. It is used to make the most popular German street food, called Currywurst and I can have it every single day. Thankfully Currywurst was also my first taste of the German wurst and it is hard not to love this freshly grilled, chopped bratwurst which is served with ketchup and curry powder sprinkle.
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The national pride of Germany
German sausages are so delicious, that they are a source of national pride in Germany and many wurst recipes from certain areas are closely guarded secrets. Here I am mentioning some of the best of the German wursts and be warned because this list will give you serious food lusting.
- Nürnberger Rostbratwurst – A pinkie-finger-sized bratwurst sausages, Nürnberger Rostbratwurst come from the state of Franconia. Richly flavoured with the herb marjoram, they are served grilled six at a time, with sauerkraut and potatoes with a side of horseradish cream.
- Knackwurst or Knockwurst – These short and stubby sausages are flavored with garlic. Most of the times, they are smoked and served with the traditional sides of sauerkraut and potato salad.
- Blutwurst – This German version of blood sausage is sliced and eaten cold, on bread.
- Leberwurst – The liverwurst, is usually made from pork and flavored in various ways. It is spreadable and makes great breakfast addition.
- Leberkäse – Translated as “liver cheese”, Leberkäse hails from Bavaria and contrary to its name, does not contain cheese or liver. Made with very finely minced corned beef, pork, and onions, this Bavarian delight is spiced with marjoram and baked in a bread pan until a golden crust develops. Similar to a pink meatloaf, Leberkäse is served freshly baked in 1/2 inch slices.
- Teewurst – This is one of the most unusual sausages I have ever tasted. An air-dried sausage made from pork, bacon, and beef, it is smoked over beechwood. After this, teewurst undergoes fermentation to help preserve it. This sausage got its name in 1874 from its inventor, Karoline Ulrike Rudolph, and was meant to be eaten at tea-time on open sandwiches. It has a mild and slightly sour flavor, and the recipe is a secret.
- Weisswurst – Also famous as the white sausage, Weisswurst is a traditional sausage of Southern Germany. Made with veal and bacon, it is generously flavored with parsley, onion, lemon, and cardamom. Weisswurst is boiled and eaten without the skin.
- Gelbwurst – Literally meaning the yellow sausage, Gelbewurst is named after the saffron-colored casings used to make it. It is mildly spiced with lemon, mace, ginger, and cardamon and is nowadays made from pork, bacon, beef or chicken.
- Landjäger – Last but not the least is the dried sausage Landjäger. It is made from beef, pork, lard, sugar and spices and is air dried. Resembling a small salami it does not require refrigeration and can be eaten cold or boiled.
P.S – This blog post is part of the weekly series called the Cologne Diaries. Every week, Maverickbird will take on a new theme, emotion, and beauty of an expat life in Cologne.
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