22 February, 2022 marks a milestone anniversary for the iconic Bavarian delicacy
165 Years of Weißwurst
If you’ve ever eaten a traditional Weißwurst breakfast, then you already know that the eponymous centerpiece of this classic Bavarian spread is no ordinary German sausage. So unique is the south-German delicacy, in fact, that it has become an emblem of the cultural divide between the northern and southern regions of Germany itself. Ask a German where the boundary between north and south lies, and chances are they will tell you, with a grin, that it lies along the Weißwurstäquator (White Sausage Equator).
So, what is Weißwurst?
Weißwurst is a short, plump sausage made from veal and pork back bacon. It is typically seasoned with parsley, lemon, mace, onion, ginger and cardamom, which lighten the heaviness of the meat with a subtle, bright harmony of background flavor. The sausage is cooked slowly in a bath of hot (though not boiling) water and served floating, in the same water, inside a decorated porcelain pot. Unlike other sausages, the casing of the Weißwurst is not meant to be eaten. Instead, it is sliced open and peeled away, either incrementally as one eats, like a banana, or all at once. Sweet mustard and a soft pretzel accompany the Weißwurst on the plate, while a tall, foam-topped glass of hazy-orange Weißbier stands alongside, waiting to wash it down.
The first Weißwurst was served in Munich on 22 February, 1857, in a pub called Wirtshaus Zum Ewigen Licht (Pub by the Eternal Light). Although the pub is no longer in operation, its site on Munich’s old town square is now occupied by the popular Restaurant Wildmoser, named after Josef Moser, proprietor of Zum Ewigen Licht and inventor of the Weißwurst. According to legend, Moser’s bright idea was, like so much that is remarkable in the world, a product of sheer improvisation: fresh out of pork meat and faced with a line of tables demanding sausage, he ground up some veal, threw in some herbs and spices, stuffed the mixture in Bratwurst casing, cooked the links in water—and hoped for the best. 165 years later, steaming pots of the famous white sausage are still being enjoyed in the place where they were dreamt up on the fly to keep a hungry dining room happy.
Although the Weißwurst is an uncontested icon of Munich as well as of Bavaria and southern Germany at large, it was not until recent years that a push began to be made to celebrate the dish’s history and cultural significance. In 2013, two major events helped spark a wave of conscious enthusiasm for Weißwurst: the erection of a monument in Zwiesel, Bavaria, 180 kilometers northeast of Munich, demarcating an actual Weißwurstäquator, which until then had been a mere figure of speech; and the institution of an annual Weißwurstkönigin pageant, in which a “White Sausage Queen” is selected to represent Weißwurst and its tradition for the coming year. The following year, 2014, saw the composition of a Weißwurst Polka, the establishment of a royal Weißwurst school, the creation of a royal Weißwurst mustard, and the erection of a bronze statue commemorating the figure of the Weißwurst Queen. In 2015, the office of the Weißwurst Ambassador was created. In 2016, the title of Royal Weißwurst was bestowed upon the sausages produced by the butcher’s shop Metzgerei Einsle of Bodenmais. Finally, in 2017, the Tag der Weißwurst, or Weißwurst Day, was declared a state holiday in Bavaria.
Today, 22 February, 2022, marks the fifth official Bavarian Weißwurst Day and the 165th anniversary of Bavaria’s most iconic culinary invention. Mahlzeit.