Back in Texas, about the only time you would catch me eating sausage was when I would float the Guadalupe River in late summer. We’d drive down to New Braunfels, stop off at the last Wal-Mart before the turn-off, and load up on Bud Light Lime (don’t judge me) and summer sausage. The first time I mentioned summer sausage to my husband, he said, “What the heck is that?” And the first time I showed it to him, he said, “That is not real sausage.” And when I explained to him that we would just cut it and eat it right out of the package on the water, he threw his hands in the air and walked away from the meat display.
Needless to say, he was very proud to show off the sausage counters here in the German grocery stores to me after moving. And he was oh-so-happy to explain all the nuanced differences between them. And while I don’t often eat sausages at home, they are my go-to food at markets and festivals. My favorites? Mettwurst and Krakauer. But it wasn’t always so easy for me. In the beginning, I often found myself overwhelmed when looking at menus (both at festivals and in restaurants). Bratwurst. Weisswurst. Blutwurst. Currywurst. Krakauer. Thuringer. Mettwurst.
What do these names mean?!?
Now, for the sake of simplicity, because this discussion could actually get quite complex, what you need to know about Mettwurst is that (1) it is a red sausage and (2) it is typically a mixture of beef and pork. You do have regional variations, so depending on where you are, you may see variations in the actual name (though 9 times out of 10 it will still contain the word “Mettwurst” somewhere). When you see variations, that could mean that they mixed different spices into the meat, that the ratio of beef to pork is different, or that it’s just one type of meat. Mettwursts are usually either grilled or smoked.
As a tip, if you’re like me and prefer the red sausages, when you go somewhere to order, say, Currywurst, you can always ask them if they have Curry Mettwurst (even if it’s not on the menu), which would then be Currywurst with the red sausage instead of white.
Krakauers (pronounced crock-hour) are also a red sausage that are typically made with a mixture of beef and pork. They originated in Poland and are named after the city of Krakow. The difference between a Krakauer and a Mettwurst (on the most basic level) is the seasoning. Usually, Krakauers contain nutmeg, garlic, and paprika. Sometimes, like at the Bitburger Bierhaus, you can find them as a Currywurst, but often, especially at festivals, they’re served in a Brötchen. These, too, are most often smoked.
Feine Bratwurst (like all Bratwursts) is a white sausage. Now, sometimes, you might see these referred to as Weisswurst or Weisswürstchen, but please don’t confuse this with the Bavarian Weisswurst. They are not the same thing. The Feine Bratwurst is made entirely of pork (no beef mixture here) and a combination of spices. It is named Feine (or fine) because the meat is ground down to a very fine consistency. Most of the time, these are either grilled or smoked.
A Rostbratwurst, on the other hand, is not so fine. These sausages, also white, are still made of pork and spices, but the meat is a little chunkier than a Feine Bratwurst. These are normally grilled before serving.
I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but because I said not to confuse Weisswurst in general with the Bavarian Weisswurst, here are the main differences between them. The Bavarian Weisswurst is boiled, not grilled, and it’s eaten without the skin.
At this point, you can probably infer what this is just by the name. It’s a Rostbratwurst, so immediately, you know that it’s a white sausage, that it’s made from pork and spices, that it’s probably grilled, and that the meat is a little chunky. The name Thüringer comes from the name of the state of Thüringen, which is where this style of sausage originated. And while they’re known by their origin, they’re also known for their size. Thüringers are always about 6 inches long.
This is my husband’s all-time favorite thing to eat at festivals.
So, these are just a few things to keep in mind the next time you’re at a festival or even in a restaurant and feel overwhelmed by ALL OF THE SAUSAGE choices. Remember to look for those key words to have a better idea of what is what.
But stay away from Blutwurst. Far. Far. Away.