Teewurst Claims Another Victim, or the Blandness of German Sausage


Every Thursday, I go to my local farmers' market (g) and buy cheese, meat and eggs. The market is held at the Lessingplatz, which has a broken-obelisk fountain presumably in memory of one of the leading figures of the German Enlightenment. It's now the main gathering place for the leading figures in Duesseldorf's outdoor alcoholic scene (g). But those folks fade into the background when the market comes.

This farmer's market is not one of those fancy-pants ones where hipsters in porkpie hats sell arugula while guerilla knitting. No, this farmer's market features actual farmers, with dirt-stained hands, fun regional accents, friendly manners, and solid, unspectacular, delicious traditional (not heirloom) potatoes, which are helpfully marked with their texture (creamy, mealy, firm).

Meat I buy form the Vennbachhof (g) stand. Not just because it's good, but because the saleswoman vaguely resembles a more earthy and organic Heidi Klum. If your lifelong fetish dream was to see Heidi Klum sling giant chunks of raw meat (you know who you are), and she still hasn't responded to your messages, then you need to come to the Rheinland.

The only problem is that, as a little dankeschoen, meat-Heidi always gives me a chunk of Teewurst (tea sausage).Why is this a problem? Because then I have to eat it. Now, as Teewurst goes, the Teewurst from the Vennbachhof is probably excellent. But I can't stand Teewurst. The problem with it, as with most German sausages, is that it's hopelessly under-spiced. This means you can actually taste what the sausage was made from. I usually discreetly put the Teewurst out on my balcony, where the creatures of the night feast upon it.

If I wanted to taste organ meat — and I don't — I'd just buy a jar of pate. The entire reason sausage exists, if you ask me, is to take the parts of a mammal that nobody in their right mind wants to think about, grind them up, and load them with delicious spices that start a party in your mouth. The best sausages — which are almost all Polish and Hungarian — thrust the question of what parts of the animal they're made from far into the background, where it belongs.

I have a Theory about this. Back when European mankind first had the glorious idea to make sausages, powerful Germany could afford the best organ meat, and therefore had little to cover up with spices. Those countries on the 13th-century version of the Eurozone periphery were left to make what they could from the leavin's — eyes, anii, ears, hoof gristle, what-have-you. To distract themselves from the content of their casings, they turned to huge amounts of garlic, dill, onions, and other dangerously intense 'ethnic' flavors that are much too stimulating for the German palate.

That's my Theory and I'm sticking to it. Fortunately, last night, a friend came by, and I was able to force the Teewurst onto him. Although he doesn't like Teewurst either, he had little choice but to be a nice guest and eat it. I ate a quarter of it out of solidarity. Gad, that hideous brain-like texture…

16 thoughts on “Teewurst Claims Another Victim, or the Blandness of German Sausage

  1. @JCW: Not at all a Düsseldorf thing!
    I come from an Eastern part of Germany and it was the most basic stuff you’d buy, back then (in the 70s) when I was a child. Very common — as was Leberwurst and Blutwurst and all that stuff, I’d rather not eat too often nowadays…

    But Teewurst is definitely not something you have to try!
    I absolutely agree that Teewurst is among the least desirable things to top your slice of bread with.
    Growing up with having it on the family table regularly, I remember the day I thought to myself: what the hell is that, actually?
    The very day I stopped actually eating it.

    I dare to disagree with the author’s judgement over the spiciness (or lack of) of all German sausage, though…
    You could say the same about German cheese in general (think Tilsiter, for instance, which is the translation of falling asleep into cheese)…
    But then there are a number of excellent sausages and cheese when you know where to find them. And yes, I am sorry, but it’s mostly in the Bioläden.

    Honour to whom honour is due. 🙂


  2. I just looked up where Lessingplatz is. I have to say I cannot believe that they have a farmers market there.
    I lived not more than a kilometer away for the first 16 years of my life and whenever we wanted to go to a market we wannt to Kirchplatz or Karlsplatz.


  3. I am not too fond of Teewurst (it was common when I was a kid, because it tastes inoffensive and there are no chunks to chew or choke on), but there are other types of sausage that are comparably mild-flavoured. At the rare occasions I eat it, I put sliced dill pickles on top to provide some more flavor. Also a little mustard could be an option. The reason mustard was invented were bland-tasting sausages, I guess…


  4. > If I wanted to taste organ meat — and
    > I don’t — I’d just buy a jar of pate.
    As you may know, pate is a traditionally french procuct, less a german one.
    In Germany they preferred making Wurst of the same ingedients, like Leberwurst instead of liver pate…
    I think Teewurst, Leberwurst, Blutwurst or Mettwurst are typical german alternatives, if you want to eat more or less raw meat in a halfly conservated form.

    Take Mettwurst with onion on bread – yum, great raw meat!
    Its special popularity among hard working people gave it the popular nickname “masons marmelade”.
    But indeed, Teewurst is among the most boring types of Wurst, you have to spice it up.


  5. amounts of garlic, dill, onions, and other dangerously intense ‘ethnic’ flavors that are much too stimulating for the German palate

    Can this theory of yours really still be valid today, given the overwhelming nationwide success of Döner Kebap in Germany? Just a thought…


  6. > This means you can actually taste what the sausage was made from.

    But there isn’t any organ meat in Teewurst. And there’s a theory about this (complementing your own theory)

    > Fortunately, last night, a friend came by,
    > and I was able to force the Teewurst onto him.

    That’s what friendship is all about.


  7. Why do you people even buy sausages if you don’t want to taste the meat? Just get a spoon and some “spices” and be done with it.


  8. Investigating Teewurst I came across another SPIEGEL article from 1955. It describes the fight of a brave meat factory owner (Fritz Riess, a former formula 1 driver and owner of Fleischwerke Schafft) who tried to create a “Volks-Salami” by using organ meat (muscles from the intestinal tract, rumen, rumen villi, tendons and rinds). He was stopped by small-minded representatives of an ill-defined Reinheitsgebot. The article starts with a quote from his defendant: “We are a people which lost the war, and we cannot allow ourselves to leave organ meat just unused.”

    But they couldn’t be stopped. In 1972 Fleischwerke Schafft finally created the “Volks-Salami“. This time around they didn’t use organ meat. They had a better idea: why not sell a little salami as a snack, just like a Mars bar. It was a step towards what is described in the SPIEGEL article I posted below, seeing meat not as someting coming from an animal and bought in a butcher’s shop. It was aimed at children who preferred snacks like Mars bars over boring sandwiches from their mothers. It was sold in places where no other meat was around. They started heavy advertising and gave it a catchy name: BiFi (spoken as “beefy”). The brand was a huge success and went on to become a legend .

    Not long ago I read an article (sorry, this time no link around) about migrants talking about German Food. An Indian said he liked it but he couldn’t understand why Germans eat “raw” uncooked meat, which he considered as barbaric. But especially disgusting, he said, was watching German parents giving their children raw meat like candy bars.


  9. Meat that has been salted, cured, smoked etc. is not considered “raw”, neither by barbarians nor civilized people. But I agree that beef jerky is certainly better than BiFi.
    The fun fact is that BiFI is encased in a condom-like plastic wrapping and during the procedure of shifting the sausage out of that “condom” and eating it one can hardly avoid certain associations (“rausschieben, reinbeißen” as it is put in the commercial from youtube)


  10. Some people from India do consider every uncooked meat as raw, it seems.

    It’s not my opinion, however, I eat smoked meat and also Mettwurst, which I prefer over Teewurst because Teewurst tastes a little sour (perhaps from the lactic acid). I never tried BiFi.

    I added this little piece of cultural relativism only to the BiFi story because I felt it completed the picture and improved the connection with Andrew’s Teewurst story. Teewurst also is “raw”, of course, as Roger already mentioned, and the German word Rohwurst reflects that.


  11. Not to wade into regionalism unprepared, but I would claim you just are in the wrong area. I have it on good authority, that the best sausages come from the general area where Hesse, Bavaria (or Frankonia, really), and Thuringia meet. And that’s not just because that’s where I am from.

    Back in the days of East Germany, we had to always bring some salami and maybe some Leberwurst where ever we went. And even nowadays visitors make a trip to the butcher in the next village to get fifty shrink-wraped Rostbratwurst or so as a souvenir.

    To finally get where I wanted to: Some of the local Leberwurst has been condemned for being too spicy (which, this being Germany, means being spicy at all). Maybe you can even get some well-seasoned Teewurst. I’ll check next time I’m back home.

    German cheese, one realizes after living in Switzerland for a while, indeed is very bland. But I never felt the same way about German meat products. In fact, proper bread and proper sausages are about the only things I sincerely miss. Oh, and Fleischsalat, but that may be a different topic altogether.


  12. i love teewurst. i even eat it pure. most people enjoy it with some fresh bread and butter so. you get teewurst in every supermarket :). lovelovelove.


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