Monday, April 1, 2013

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Sucking Weisswurst

Well, I'm not dumb
but I can't understand
why she walked like a woman 
but talked like a man.

Ray Davies 
Lola (1970)

This Spring, I'm spending time in Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Preparation for that trip includes reading daily news from Germany and the Netherlands; watching Dutch and German films to get the rhythm of the languages again; and drawing up lists of specific spirits, foods, and antiquarian distilling and charcuterie books to track down. It was while reading Culinaria: Germany, though, that I was brought up short by a claim that simply strains credulity.

The entry concerns that Bavarian specialty weisswurst, a  sausage made of veal and typically eaten mid-morning with soft pretzels, mild mustard, and beer — not sauerkraut, as one might encounter in other parts of the world or even other regions of Germany. Should some tourist fail to ask for traditional accompaniments and order sauerkraut, the editor maintains,
A native Bavarian sitting nearby will either turn away in horror, or be quick to offer advice when, in addition, he sees the "foreigner" wielding a knife and fork, cutting the sausage up into small pieces. He will explain that the correct way to eat this sausage is to zuzeln it — a verb for which the foreigner, even if he is a German citizen, will search his dictionary in vain. It is a Bavarian dialect word meaning "suck," and describes the proper way to eat Weisswurst: you cut it in half with a knife, pick it up in your fingers, dip it in sweet mustard  no other kind will do  and suck it out of its skin. The experience is primeval and sensuous; it is no coincidence that "sucking" the sausage suggests associations with breast-feeding.
Now, I'm an historian and retired museum curator, not an eminent psychoanalist, but even I understand that international and cross-lingual jokes concerning sausages' phallic shape had been worked pretty hard long before the 19th-century supposed invention of weisswurst. Nor, it must be admitted, am I thoroughly versed in all the ins and outs of Bavarian culture, but to suggest that anyone happily sucking away at a juicy, fat white sausage is reliving infantile experiences of breast-feeding...well.

Sucking a weisswurst is primeval, as the text notes. It is sensuous. But ignoring an elephant of that magnitude in the room takes a special kind of denial.

Goes well with:

  • Christine Metzger (2008) Culinaria: Germany. f. h. ullman. ISBN: 978-3-8331-1030-6. Amazon vendors sell the paperback for over $300. That's ridiculous; the hardback sells for under $30 here
  • If you'd like to take a run at making your own weisswurst, Bernhard Gahm's 1998 German language book Würste, Sülzen, Pasteten selbstgemacht will set you right. If you prefer English-language instructions, try Rytek Kutas' cornerstone sausage-making book, Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing. Finally (and it's a bit pricey), multiple French versions of white sausage — boudin blanc —are presented in volume one of the Professional Charcuterie series by Marcel Cottenceau et al (Van Nostrand Reinland, 1991).

1 comment:

sam k said...

Hahahahahaha! Yeah, Mama's breast alright...except it looks like, oh well...never mind!