What would be the one word you associate with Germany? Well, mine is Wurst (sausage), followed a close second by beer. Clichéd, I know, but there really is no escape from the Wurst here, speaking as a Currywurst devotee. It’s not just the sheer volume of Wurst eaten, the stands selling all manner of Wurst – Berliner, Curry, Thüringer, Frankfurters and so on, it’s the fact there even sausage related sayings, such as ‘Es geht um die Wurst,’ but more on that later. One thing is for sure, it’s a good thing I’m not a vegetarian.
Even for a Brit like me (Britain is another sausage loving nation), the array of Wurst available is quite incredible. In Britain, we eat over 200,000 tonnes of sausages a year, but the Germans really are the Kings of the Sausage, with the average German eating an astonishing 30kg of Wurst per year! There are also, apparently, a mouthwatering 1,500 types of sausage available – from cooked sausages (Kochwurst), fresh sausages (Bruhwurst) and cured meats and salamis (Rohwurst).
Sausages are generally named after the region they come from in Germany, and vary greatly in appearance and taste. Here is a quick rundown of some of the Wurst available –
Originally from Frankfurt, this type of sausage has been exported all over the world and made famous by the Americans; this is what you will find in a traditional ‘hot dog’ (nothing to do with dogs, of course).
The Thüringer, from Thüringen, is the traditional ‘Bratwurst’ (literally fried sausage), and apparently the oldest, the first being eaten way back in 1404. It is a long and thin spicy sausage eaten between a small bread roll with mustard (traditionally) or ketchup and should be cooked on a BBQ. As with Champagne, a Thüringer must be made in Thüringen to be called a Thüringer. There is even an EU law that says so.
A Bavarian sausage made from pork and veal which is small and thick, so different in appearance from the traditional Bratwurst. It is also white in colour, hence the name. The Weisswurst is traditionally made fresh in the morning and then boiled and served with mustard, a Pretzel and a Weissbier, and all before noon!
My personal favourite, the Currywurst, dreamed up by Herta Heuwer from Berlin in 1949, is a traditional Bratwurst chopped up and covered with a tomato based curry sauce and additional curry powder. Curried ketchup is now also used as opposed to the tomato sauce. Who’d have thought a sausage covered in curry sauce would be so tasty and such a hit?
As for the title of this piece, Es geht um die Wurst, it means it’s now or never – literally, it’s hanging on the sausage. Other sausage expressions include the rather pleasant eine Wurst machen (to do a number two), jdm Wurst sein (not to matter to somebody) and mir ist es Wurst (I don’t care about that).
So, if you are in Germany, make sure you don’t miss the sausage. After all, es geht um die Wurst!