How to Eat Weisswurst in Munich

How To: It's hard to find a restaurant in the German city that doesn't serve weisswurst. But it's said that the white sausages should never hear the noon church bells. Chris Gray explains.

07.12.07 | 10:49 AM ET

imageThe Situation: You alight from an overnight train into Munich’s Hauptbahnhof, savoring your first whiff of crisp, mountain-kissed Bavarian air. You’re starving, and you didn’t come all this way to eat the same breakfast you always eat. Time to settle in with Munich’s meatiest delicacy: the delicate, white veal sausage called weisswurst. Didn’t know that weisswurst was for breakfast? You need a weisswurst primer.

Weisswurst basics: As the story goes, the weisswurst was born 150 years ago in the kitchen of the Zum ewigen Licht Gasthaus on Munich’s Marienplatz. Today, Munich’s butchers stuff more than 75 million of the white sausages a year. To stave off imitations, an organization of weisswurst enthusiasts has petitioned the European Union to grant the specialty sausage its coveted Protected Geographical Indication seal. Their goal: that only a weisswurst made in Munich will have the right to bear the label “Original Muenchner Weisswurst.” While some may think of sausage as being lunch and dinner fare, Muenchners say that a weisswurst should never hear the church bells. While the rule is sometimes broken, at least according to tradition, weisswurst should be eaten before noon.

Where to go: It’s harder to find a Munich restaurant that doesn’t serve weisswurst than one that does. But if a place has a beer garden or flies the blue-and-white-checkered Bavarian flag, there’s sure to be weisswurst on the menu. Once you find the right restaurant, seek out the table with a centerpiece that looks like a huge cast-iron ashtray and is labeled “Stammtisch.” Never sit there. Grab the table nearest to it, however. In Germany, a restaurant’s stammtisch is reserved for the regulars, and it’s where all the action is. Greet your neighbors with a throaty, “Gruess Gott” (pronounced “groose gut,” it translates loosely as “Greet God” and is the standard greeting in Bavaria).

Prep work: Order your weisswurst by the piece from your server. Two snags at a time are the norm, and they’ll be served floating in water inside a pot that is covered with a bread plate to preserve the heat. On your table, you’ll find a pot of sweet Bavarian mustard and a basket of pretzels—these are the only acceptable accompaniments for weisswurst. Order a weissbier to wash it all down. 

Eating technique: Now comes the tricky part. Weisswuerste are eaten peeled, and while the traditional technique is to snip open the ends and suck out the meat, you’re best off using your silverware.

Start by slicing your weisswurst in half. Tuck your fork into the exposed filling of one of the halves and carve a bite-sized piece off its opposite end. Poke your fork into the filling of the piece you’ve just cut off and draw your knife lengthwise across the top, cutting just deeply enough to split the skin (it should peel back in flaps). With your fork still buried in the filling, slide your knife between one of the flaps of skin and the meat and turn the piece so that your knife pins the skin against your plate. Twist your fork like you’re twirling spaghetti to roll the meat out of the skin, slather some mustard on it with your knife and enjoy.

Advanced tips for the aspiring connoisseur: “The sign of a good weisswurst is color,” says Sepp Kraetz, owner of the popular Andechser am Dom restaurant and Hippodrom Oktoberfest tent in Munich. “It should be white as snow. The only thing you should be able to see through the skin is the green flecks of fresh parsley inside.”

If the parsley has turned gray, Kraetz says, the sausage is no good: “There should never be anything gray in any sausage. That’s a sign of poor quality.” 

When you cut open a weisswurst, it should smell fresh, and the filling should swell out the ends—proof that the meat is of a high -quality and has been properly cooked.

“If it looks and smells appetizing,” he says, “it’s first class.”

Photo by Chris Gray.