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For better or Wurst: a primer on the German sausage

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Few foods are as iconic of their home country as the German sausage (Wurst). Part of the national cuisine since the Middle Ages, sausages are taken seriously in their home nation. Yes, you’ll find Germans guzzling them down with a dollop of mustard as fast food – a tradition exported by nineteenth-century émigrés to give the world the hot dog – but Michelin critics also list Wurst kitchens in Bavaria. All Würste feature pork (and sometimes beef or veal), spices and peppercorns. What makes each distinctive are the herbs and spices. Aficionados say there are around a thousand regional varieties to sample. Good luck.

Blutwurst “Blood sausage” – black pudding. Eaten sliced and cold or fried.

Bockwurst A popular variety that is more fine veal than fine pork. Resembles a chubby frankfurter and is heated in liquid. Traditionally served with Bock beer in spring.

Bratwurst The common or garden sausage served countrywide. Varies by region – Bavaria’s are finger-sized, Thuringia’s are long and thin, for example – but usually made of finely minced pork and marjoram.

Braunschweiger Smoked liver sausage (Leberwurst) enriched with eggs and milk, so it is spreadable.

Currywurst A Berlin icon invented, they say, in 1949 by a bored Imbiss stall-holder. Basically a Wiener sliced, smothered in ketchup, then dusted with curry powder.

Frankfurter Not the same as the American variety, this contains fine, lean pork with a little salted bacon. Smoked then reheated in liquid.

Knockwurst (or Knackwurst) Short, plump, smoked sausage of finely minced lean pork, beef, spices and garlic. Typically poached or grilled then served with Sauerkraut.

Thüringer Rotwurst Speciality low-fat black sausage from Thuringia afforded protected geographical status under EU law.

Weisswurst Munich’s “White sausage”, so called for its being made of veal and fresh bacon. Flavoured with parsley, mace and cardamom, it is traditionally prepared before breakfast and eaten before lunch.

Wienerwurst Thought to be the source of the American frankfurter. Pork and beef flavoured with coriander and garlic, grilled or fried.

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