Germany: Where the sausage is king

By Nellie Tuck

Delicious German sausages.
Delicious German sausages.

Kiwis are renowned for our "throw your sausie on the barbie" culture, but we could learn a thing or two from a country that might just love its sausages even more than we love ours.

I know it's not exactly crank up the barbecue weather, but having been in Germany for a month now, I feel it is time to bring out the sausage talk. A strange thing really, seeing as I buck the Kiwi trend and am not usually a huge sausage fan myself. But being in Germany, I've decided to do as the Germans do, and as I've quickly learned, that includes "wurst" (the German word for sausage) - and a lot of it.

With more than 1500 varieties and having had centuries to perfect the art, Germans really do know their sausages, and boy, are they proud of it. You can see - and smell - them as you walk down the streets lined with busy sausage stalls offering anything from a plain sausage to sausage burgers.

When I asked a German friend to explain to me why his country has such a voracious appetite for wurst, I witnessed that pride once again,

"Oh that's hard," he answered. "How could I describe something which is obviously divine?"

Eventually, he decided that one of the main reasons is variety,

"I think we love it because of the different types in different parts of Germany. It's never boring, if you don't feel like a weisswurst in the morning, you could have a currywurst for lunch or a little barbecued one for dinner."

That variety stems from German's regional sausages. Different areas have their own specialties, and anyone keen to try them can take a sausage tour and sample the array of culinary delights on offer throughout the country.

The Nurnberger bratwurstch from Nuremberg, is one of the first documented sausages in Germany, dating back to 1313, and is perhaps the most popular. It is a little-finger sized sausage made from pork and beef and usually served in portions of six, although if you go to a stall, look for Drei im Weckla, and you'll get three in a bun.

Travel south to Bavaria and you'll find the Munchener weisswurst, a traditional Bavarian sausage (Munchen, or Munich, is the capital of Bavaria). Made with veal and bacon, it's served only before midday; later, it's not fresh enough to serve.

Frankfurt is the home of the frankfurter, made mainly from veal and flavoured with paprika.

The Thuringer rostbratwurst, a large, spicy, grilled sausage from the state of Thuringia is made from pork and beef, and the oldest recipe dates back to 1404.

Then there's Berlin, capital of the currywurst, a deep-fried, curried sausage slathered in curry-ketchup.

Because sausages are a source of regional and national pride, the Germans are very particular about what goes into them.

Because of this, you might think getting them just right is a difficult process. But usually, it's a straightforward process, based on a simple equation - if it's not meat, it's not sausage.

Perhaps that's where we're going wrong in New Zealand, and why I'll usually opt for anything on the barbie other than a sausage?

Even if Hellers tell us they've done the European taste test and come back with the seal of approval, there's no way the majority of our supermarket sausages, made from an array of flours, cereals, a little bit of meat and who knows what else, would sell in Germany. They're just not sausages.

Germany is good news then for Kiwis such as my partner who are allergic to gluten. After booking our flights a couple of months ago, we showed a photo of a currywurst to a friend who looked at my partner horrified and said, quite matter-of-factly, "Well, there's no way you'll be eating that, you're gluten-free." To which he smiled excitedly and said, "That's the first thing I will be eating."

It's good news all round, particularly for any Kiwi who fancies what I now deem to be a real sausage - one with no extras, just meat and a few spices, plain and simple.

In Germany, whether you're out for dinner, exploring a new town or just looking around the local supermarket, every sausage you lay your eyes on in Germany will be almost 100 per cent meat.

And in case you're wondering, true to his word, currywurst was the first thing on the menu.


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