Sausages. Nearly every culture around the world has a sausage. They’ve been fought over and written about for thousands of years (blood sausages are mentioned in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, and the Brothers Grimm cast one as a carnivorous brute in the disturbing tale of ‘The Strange Feast’).
They warm us in the winter on a pile of creamy mash, smothered in gravy. They’re stuffed into buns and covered in onions and sauce at summer barbecues. They’re dipped in batter or rolled in pastry. They even make an essential part of a glorious English breakfast.
They’re a surprisingly versatile staple in British diets. But does a classic pork sausage live up to the esteemed German sausage?
In Germany, there’s an estimated 1,500 varieties of sausage. They come in all sizes, served hot or cold, whole or sliced, and in an unusual array of colours. Here’s a brief guide on the complex world of the German sausage:
What’s for breakfast?
There’s a popular old saying in Bavaria that goes ‘The weiẞwürste should not hear the 12 o’clock bell ringing’ due to the absence of preservatives. Some restaurants still refuse to sell weiẞwurst after midday.
These fat white sausages are made from minced veal and bacon, steamed or poached, and served warm with a pretzel, sweet mustard and sometimes white beer. The thick skin is often too chewy to eat, so the traditional way to eat a weiẞwürste is to slice it lengthways and squeeze the meat out of the casing. There are other methods of extracting the meat, depending on your patience and elegance!
Can sausages be skinless?
Wollwurst are very similar to weiẞwürste, except without the tough skin. They’re sometimes dunked in milk before being fried and served with gravy and Bavarian potato salad.
Where can I find the best bratwurst?
There are around 40 types of bratwurst, with recipes differing in every region of Germany. The very best are considered to be served in Nuremberg, where restaurants such as Bratwurstglöcklein im Handwerkerhof have been cooking the unique Nürnberger bratwurst since 1313. These smaller, marjoram flavoured sausages are grilled, and served with sauerkraut, potatoes and horseradish.
Can I really eat blue sausages?
Bamberg’s sausage speciality is blaue zipfel, which translates as ‘blue ends’. Although it’s not a colour usually associated with sausages, don’t let the subtle blue tinge put you off! These lightly spiced pork sausages owe their colour to juniper berries. Normally cooked with onions, wine and vinegar, these small blaue zipfel go well with a local beer.
A local legend states they’re made small enough to fit through a keyhole in the city gate, so they could be sold at night after the gates were locked.
They have yellow sausages too?
Unlike the blaue zipfel, the yellow sausage, or gelbwust, gets its name from the yellow skin rather than the filling, which is actually white. The skin is removed and the sausage is sliced for sandwiches.
Is there a German equivalent to black pudding?
Yes – blutwurst is made with pork rind and blood. It’s usually sliced and eaten cold on bread.
The translation for leberkäse makes no sense, considering it’s a type of sausage made with corned beef, pork and onions, and absolutely no liver or cheese. This rich Bavarian speciality is similar to a meatloaf – baked until a golden crust forms, and served in slices. You can order it cold, in a white roll with sweet mustard, or warm, topped with a fried egg and served with potato salad and, of course, the obligatory local beer.