I am surprised that wars have not been fought over food. Controversies abound. People have strong feelings and express them vociferously.
Let me get one thing clear straightaway. I loved the soft, spreadable version of Mettwurst and it will become a regular on appetizer plates and holiday buffets in my house.
When I picked up a hunk of Mettwurst German sausage at my neighborhood Dickman’s Meat and Deli, I wanted to continue my education on the many varieties of German sausage.
TWO KINDS OF METTWURST
Then I turned to the website for the American sausage company, Steiglmeier, and ran into a brawl. Viewers of the site differed sharply in their ratings of the company’s Mettwurst.
It seems that there are many varieties of Mettwurst. But unlike other sausages simply seasoned differently depending on what region they come from, Mettwurst comes in two distinct forms as well as in different flavors. The one from northern Germany comes in a solid smoked link with a strong flavor that you must cook like bratwurst by boiling or grilling.
The one I bought originated in southern Germany– a soft, spreadable, mild smoked sausage. The spreadable Mettwurst requires no further cooking. (That makes sense because Steiglmeier emphasizes Bavarian meats). Apparently the longer you smoke the chopped pork and beef the harder it gets.
So on the Steiglmeier site, those people who had eaten spreadable Mettwurst in Germany, thought the American company did a good job. But those who had visited northern Germany, hotly demanded that Steiglmeier stop calling this sausage Mettwurst, when it did not resemble the sausage they remembered. (Sorry, you’ll have to take my word for it, as the company has apparently refreshed its site and removed the comments.)
The whole tempest in a sausage skin reminded me of the Indian tale about the blind men and the elephant. The man who touched only the ear of an elephant thought the animal was flat and round, while the one who touched the trunk said it was an animal like a python–long and squirmy.
It does seem rather strange that two different sausages would have the same name. According to Wikipedia, “The Low German word mett, meaning minced pork without bacon, is derived from the Old Saxon word meti (meaning food), and is related to the English word ‘meat’.” I don’t know about you, but knowing that the name of this sausage (wurst) –mett– means chopped pork, or meat, or food–does not really clarify much for me.
WHAT’S IT MADE OF?
The Steiglmeier sausage has both pork and beef, making it the Branschweiger variety. The essential flavoring in this sausage is garlic, and paprika plays a big role in this one as well, giving it a nice pink tint.
I have already written about my appreciation of the spreadable Braunschweiger. And the style of Mettwurst I bought may be called Braunschweiger Mettwurst. You can find other names for varieties of this sausage on the excellent web site thespruceeeats.com which also gives a scientific analysis of how the curing process works.
THE ENDLESS SAUSAGE SEARCH
The delicious garlicy Mettwurst spread on crackers my be my favorite German sausage so far. However, I happened upon a blog post about sausage in Cincinnati that convinced me I have a duty to explore the German culture foods of my own state of Ohio. And that includes those link sausages that also go by the name of Mettwurst. My German ancestors mostly settled in northwestern Ohio as a child I lived either in the northwest or in Columbus, so Cincinnati foods were a world apart. But, hey, its never too late to try another German sausage.
The German Sausage Series