German Sausage Culture

Pepperoni in Brezel shape
In German we have the saying „Den Wald vor lauter Bäumen nicht sehen“, which is equivalent to the English “Can’t see the wood for the trees”, i.e. you cannot see something because you are too involved in it. In my case, I couldn’t see the sausages for the wurst.

For at least 24 years of my life, I thought our variety of meat and sausage products was totally normal:

  • various types of pepperoni = “Salami”
  • sliced sausage with mushrooms, peppers, pistachios, gerkin, egg = “Lyoneraufschnitt”
  • smoked ham = geräucherter Schinken
  • salmon ham = Lachsschinken (no actual salmon it it; but the texture reminds of smoked salmon slices)
  • cooked ham coated with herbs, peppercorns or cheese = gekochter Schinken
  • Bratwurst, Weißwurst, Fleischwurst, …

Not to mention spreadable sausage products:

  •   fine or coarse Liversausage = feine oder grobe Leberwurst
  •   tea sausage = Teewurst (no actual tea included!)
  •   pâté = Pastete

When Tom visited me in Germany for the first time, he was in awe. To be honest – he still is! There is no better place to impress him than the deli counter in Kaufland, Edeka etc. Comparing the sausage section of a German supermarket with that of an English one opened my eyes. Suddenly, I saw the huge dimension of German meat products everywhere.

Saitenwürstle mit Kartoffelsalat
Restaurant Menus: one page of meat dishes PER ANIMAL (pork, beef, calf, chicken) and approx. three vegetarian dishes.

Beer garden offers: Sausage salad (“Wurstsalat”), Currywurst, Bratwurst. Frankfurters with potato salad (“Saitenwürstle mit Kartoffelsalat”)

It is truly amazing how much meat Germans eat, probably without even noticing. I suppose it is also linked with our love for bread since a slice (or rather three slices) of Lyoner, Salami, Schinken or a thick layer of Leberwurst seems to be the perfect topping. If you live in Germany, you can undoubtedly fill your day with all types of sausage products – no matter what time it is:

Morning: Help yourself to a bread roll with Lyoner in the morning. Like some cheese as well? No problem, there is sausage with cheese in it! This will definitely fill your stomach.

Lunch: You could go to a bakery. Here, they sell more bread rolls with meaty toppings, including Schnitzel, meatballs, or LEBERKÄSE. Now, this is a real delicacy! A mix of liver and cheese?! Don’t worry, even though it translates to ‘Livercheese’, there is no cheese in it- it’s just meat! If you are lucky, they sell it with roasted onions which basically covers 1 of your 5 a day, doesn’t it?

Evening: Let’s say you are invited to a typical barbecue in the evening(“Grillabend”) – a perfect end for your totally normal German day, especially in summer. A burger and a beer – what else do you need?

Just the usual stuff
Well, Germans need a lot more for a proper Grillabend! In fact, you will probably not find any burgers on a German grill. Instead, people will bring all types of salads (pasta salad, green salad, potato salad, tomato mozzarella salad, couscous salad); bread (garlic baguette, bread rolls), dips (garlic butter, aioli, ketchup, mustard, tzatziki) and most importantly: MEAT. Sausages and steaks in all forms and shapes, but usually not a single burger. Why? I honestly don’t know.

And what about the vegetarians? No worries! Since vegetarianism is becoming more and more popular, there are meatless alternatives that find their way onto the grill. Supermarkets sell barbecue cheese (“Grillkäse”), which is either halloumi or something that looks like halloumi, topped with herbs, spices or marinades. Personally, I am not a big fan of these since not only are they more expensive than standard cheese, but they are also full of flavour enhancers. There are many cheaper and better ways of satisfying vegetarian needs. But, that’s for another blog post! 

To cut this long and meaty sausage – sorry: STORY – short:
I officially admit that Germans are meat obsessed. Although I am not a huge meat eater, I had to realise that I actually miss some of our German meat products – at least a little bit. So, if you are lucky enough to spend a summer in Germany: have as many barbecues as you can! There is no better way to truly embrace German food culture J

Meaty Recommendations:

Of course, nothing is more famous than the German Currywurst and it is a must have. But you can’t eat it every day, can you? Especially, if you live in Germany you might want to eat something that is less of a tourist trap. Here are some of my favourite products, that you should definitely try if you are in Germany: 

Teewurst: A nice and slightly salty spread. Even better on a lye product, i.e. Laugenbrötchen or Brezel, topped with sliced gerkins. Some people even add some mustard on top.

Leberkäsweck or short “LKW”: At least, that’s what we call it in South Germany. You can find it in some bakeries, at deli shops like “Schlemmermeyer”, or street takeaways (“Imbissbuden”). The 1cm thick slice of Leberkäse is served between a crunchy bread roll, topped with roasted onions. Add ketchup or mustard (or both!) and enjoy this treat!

Lyoneraufschnitt: Go to the meat deli counter of a supermarket and ask for Lyoneraufschnitt. “Aufschnitt” means a selection of sliced products. Usually there are a lot of different Lyoner types to choose from: Lyoner with mushrooms, pieces of red pepper, egg, gerkins, brokkoli, etc. So, either you decide to try one type or you order “150g Lyoneraufschnitt”, which means you will get a few slices of everything.

Wurstsalat: It sounds a bit contradictive but is actually really nice and definitely worth a try. You will probably find this dish on beer garden menus or restaurants with a regional cuisine. Since it is a salad, it is cold and comes with little gerkin pieces, onions, (cheese), a vinegar & oil dressing and bread.


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