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On our honeymoon, we had the best sausages either of us had ever had in our lives. No exaggeration. It was like having sausages for the first time. Tasting sausages at the Historisch Wurstkuchl in Regensburg was like seeing the sunrise for the first time. And the sunset, in the same day. It was like landing on a new, beautiful planet. There was no grease. They had an exquisite combination of spices and high quality pork. My wife never even liked sausages much until this day, and she liked these. This reminded me of the first time I genuinely liked beer; it was at the Munich Oktoberfest 3 years prior. They were simple and delicious and deliciously simple.
These sausages are tied to the bridge. Not literally tied to the bridge, but tied to the bridge historically. Tying sausages to a bridge would be a strange way to cook them, I don't know why you were thinking that.
By the way, Germans have multiple expressions involving the word sausage ("Wurst" in German). That should give you an idea of how important sausages are to them. For Example "Die beleidigte wurst spielen" is "to play the offended liver sausage." It means to go off in sulk. The expression is documented back to the Middle Ages, when the liver was thought to be the seat of emotions. If you have ever seen anyone acting like an insulted liver sausage, you know what I am talking about. Once your liver sausage gets insulted, it becomes pretty unreasonable.
The official Historische Wurstkuchl story is that they have been around for 500 years, but from all I have read, sausage cooking on that site has actually been going on much longer than that. Regardless, I don’t know how 500 year old sausages can taste that good. They tasted brand new to me. Unless it was the mustard; Elsa Schrick's mustard recipe remains unchanged since the early 1800s. The restaurant is still owned by the Schrick, and has been for over 200 years. I tried to get an interview with her, but they would not arrange it for me. I guess I was just being an "Extra Wurst." An "extra sausage" is a primadonna… someone who is always demanding special treatment, always expects the extra sausage. The Historisch Wurstkuchl experience sent me on a sausage quest when I got home, which is still unrequited. I am likely to find the Holy Grail before I find a German-quality sausage in the USA. I'd even relent to let Monty Python help me with this, regardless of the flight velocity of a sparrow. I shall have to elaborate on that quest.
The Wurstkuchl is the oldest sausage kitchen in the world. And quite likely the oldest operating restaurant in the world. And it started with the bridge. The Steinerne Brücke in Regensburg, Germany, is a 12th-century bridge across the Danube linking the Old Town Regensburg with Stadtamhof (a small village on an island in the Danube). It was built over the course of 11 years, from 1135 to 1146. For more than 800 years, until the 1930s, it was the city's only bridge across the river.
In 1135 a building was erected as the construction office for the Regensburg stone bridge. When the bridge was finished in 1146 AD, the building became a restaurant named "Garkueche auf dem Kranchen" (cookshop near the crane). It quickly became a favorite eatery for dock workers, sailors, and travelers. As the city continue to grow, and the St. Peter Cathedral was built several times (due to fires) over the next few centuries, construction workers would find their way to the sausage kitchen. They serve about 6,000 sausages per day. Indoor seating is only 28 seats, outdoor about 100.
|View from the bridge|
I still have not figured out why the Wurstkuchl officially states they have been there for 500 years, when there has been a sausage restaurant there since 1135. I can understand rounding off a few decades when you are talking in magnitudes of centuries, but this is not consistent. When I was there, they were super busy, and I am not enough of an Extra Sausage that I was willing to interrupt management in my mediocre German to ask. I have spent many hours trying to figure out this inconsistency, to no avail. I know what you are thinking now. You are thinking "Du armes wursctne." Which means "You poor little sausage." Which is said in cases of insincere and condescending pity.
Stadtamhof is an incredibly cute town, with shops, churches, restaurants and homes. Like the old town of Regensburg, it is a perfectly preserved and still fully functional medieval city. It was also the site of an old medieval hospital, St. Katherina's Charity Hospital. A church was built in the middle of the hospital, was common back then. There is a brewery on site now, "Spital" brewery. Spital is German for Hospital. However, I like the German word "Krankenhaus" better, which also means hospital. "Krank" means "sick." So obviously, a Krankenhaus is a sick house. A Krankschwester… a "sick sister" is a nurse. German is a fun language. I think it is fun and amusing, anyway; but you might be saying "Es ist mir alles wurst" which means "its all sausage to me," in other words "I couldn't care less."
When I got home, I started my quest for German quality sausages. Actually, I loved Germany and hated to come home. But all things must come to an end. Or as they say in Germany, Everything has and end but a sausage has two. Yes that somehow means everything comes to an end. In German its "Alles hat ein ende nur eine wurst hat zwei."
I took my picture of the Historisch Wurstkuchl's sausages with me to local butchers. I emailed sausage companies. I googled every permutation I could think of. One of the local butchers immediately told me the name of the sausage to go look for. I spent days hunting it down, and it turned out to basically be beef jerky. Not even close. The internet led me to German Delis…. None of them close. Google Maps decided I lived in London for two days as a result of it. I don't know why, but it did. Have you ever tried to drive to Kentucky from the other side of the Atlantic? It does not work.
The sausage obsession and endless fruitless searches raged on and I was running out of time. It was getting to the point where it was all or nothing. Buy a case of variety meats from the Wisconsin German butcher, or give up. Or as they say in German, "Es geht um die wurst," which literally translates "its about the sausage: and means "Its all or nothing."
I discovered that there are four types of Wurst; Fresh, Raw, Cooked and Brat. Sounds easy. Then I discover that each of these has hundreds of subtypes. There are over 800 different kinds of sausages, according to Germans. I guess it's like Eskimos having 50 words for snow. The naming of sausage depends on if it is cooked before or after processing, ingredients, and many other characteristics. And to top it off, almost every German city has a subtype named after it, each with its own subtypes. Think about that next time you order a frankfurter. The idea may be just so overwhelming that you order a hamburger instead.
So we bought sausages from the Bavaria Sausage Company and they were very good. Actually, they were the best American Sausages we had tried yet. Closest so far to what we experienced in Germany. Their product was fantastic and prices were great, and they ship quickly. However… they were still not exactly what we had at the Wurstkuchl, so the search for the Holy Grail of sausages continues. In the meantime, in my research for this article, I watched a YouTube video that called these sausages "Nurnburger" style. I have an order waiting from the Bavaria Sausage Company, I will let you know if they are close to the same.
Regensburg is one of my favorite places in the world. The Wurstkuchl sausage kitchen, the bridge, and Stadtamhof, all definite highlights. I cannot wait to go back again.