Even the “New York Times” has reported on the “Weisswurstakademie” in Neumarkt, and guests from China have also learned the art of sausage-making there. We looked around at the first address for everything on the subject of Bavarian snacktime. Text: Anja Keul, Photos: Angelika Jakob
Secret of the “Weisswurst”
“Weisswurst” sausages are not accustomed to waiting for the noon lunch bell to sound. The filling must contain at least 51 per cent veal. “Zuzeln” is an art form in itself, only beginners slice the sausage.
Sweet mustard, a crispy pretzel and a "Weissbier" are all part of the act – there are many rules and rituals surrounding the veal sausage Weisswurst, from its preparation to its consumption.
And Norbert Wittmann knows them all. For him, sausage is everything: the master butcher has not only founded “Bavaria’s first Weisswurstakademie” in his “Hotel Wittmann” in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate, but has also set up a museum full of old equipment for making this unique delicacy.
The Good Fat
There are the meat grinders and filling machines in Wittmann’s museum – painted bright red and over 150 years old. Old black and white photos tell of hard work and butcher’s pride. One of the showpieces is a wooden “refrigerator” with an extra compartment for blocks of ice.
An ancient enamel sign proclaims: “Prices include additional weight”, meaning bones, rind and fat. “That used to be quite normal for butchers,” explains Wittmann, “but today, it’s all about the lean diet”. He himself makes a point of always using everything from the animal in his butcher’s shop and restaurant, including, of course, the “good fat”.
And the Mustard? Not too Sweet, not too Spicy
Just what exactly ends up in the homemade “Weisswurst” – for example, the “skin of a skinned calf’s head” – is something you might not really want to know. At most, the veal and pork meat come from the Schwäbisch-Hall producer association, and the animals spend their lives in free-range conditions before they end up as food on your plate. Add salt, fresh onions, parsley, lemon zest, pepper, ginger, mace and other spices according to a secret recipe.
Since 2008, Wittmann has had the mustard produced in a small factory in Egling an der Paar. Not too sweet, not too spicy, not too ... anything – just right.
When it comes to sausage, Wittmann leaves nothing to chance. And this passion has been passed on to the next generation: daughter Jana and son Tim have learned the butcher’s trade and work in the family business at Bahnhofstraße 21. Tim – as a meat sommelier.
The eldest, Nadja, as the “1st Bavarian ‘Weisswurst’ Queen” in 2013/2014 even gained local fame and today runs her own butcher’s shop in Sulzbach-Rosenberg with her husband.
The Invention of the Weisswurst
According to legend, the “Weisswurst” was invented on 22 February 1857 in the Munich inn “Zum Ewigen Licht” when the innkeeper-butcher Josef Moser ran out of tender sheep intestines for the popular veal sausages on Shrove Sunday of all days.
In his distress, Moser Sepp resorted to thicker pig intestines. However, he could not fry them – they would have burst open – as so he scalded them in hot water. The dignitaries present were enthused by the creation.
“The people of Munich do “Weisswurst” a little more loosely than we do,” explains Wittmann, who acquired a taste for it as a child, “his father made it fresh every morning.”
Although the Upper Palatinate, like nearby Franconia, is actually more inclined towards the traditional “Bratwurst”, he developed into something of a “Weisswurst expert”. Today, he lets the participants in his courses fill their own sausages on a hand-operated, modern "Weisswurst" machine. Before that, the fresh sausage meat is served on white bread for tasting.
“It fascinates me how everything used to be prepared by hand and the naked eye,” the master butcher and hotelier enthuses on a tour of his museum. Here are the blades with which the meat was minced.
There, the mighty “Bauchspritze”, over 120 years old, which pressed the sausage meat into the intestine. Plenty of experience is needed to know how much ice to use to prevent the protein from clotting. Wittmann is just overflowing with knowledge of all things sausage.
„But you can eat the sausage all day long with us“
With all the explanations and demonstrations regarding this tremendous sausage, the 12 o’clock lunch bell has, of course, long since passed. But never mind. Only in the days when there were no refrigerators did the freshly filled “Weisswurst” have to be consumed as quickly as possible.
Like his father once did, Wittmann stands at the sausage machine every morning, “but you can eat the sausage all day long with us,” he says, before placing the tureen on the table. Only the pretzels, they’re not quite as crisp now in the afternoon.”