Grilling in Germany: What you need to know about the Bratwurst

Whether it’s at a football game, at the carnival or at the town fair - the Bratwurst has become a culinary staple in Germany. But something’s cooking - nowadays, even vegetarians and vegans can their Bratwurst fix.

Grilling in Germany: What you need to know about the Bratwurst
Photo: DPA

Red-hot coals and the sizzle of fat as it drips onto the grill – the arrival of summer in Germany marks the start of barbecue season. There’s one fixture of barbecue culture that simply cannot go amiss: the Bratwurst. 

There are 150 unique types of Bratwurst with textures varying from coarse to fine, explains Uwe Keith, the chairman of the “Friends of the Thuringian Bratwurst” association.

In a bid to uncover the history of the Bratwurst, the association consulted around 200 historical written sources.

According to their findings, the Bratwurst was first mentioned in 1404 in an invoice taken from a monastery, meaning it must already be over 600 years old.

READ ALSO: The Local's meaty vegan guide to Berlin

It is also very popular in the USA, so much so that the word “Bratwurst” has made its way into everyday use.

It also enjoys its own place on the American culinary calendar, with August 16th marking National Bratwurst Day – a day which is also, of course, celebrated in Germany.

As well as cult favourites such as the Thuringian and Nuremberg Rostbratwurst, you’re much more likely to spot vegetarian and vegan alternatives on the barbecue these days.

According to Proveg Deutschland (the German Vegetarian Association), Americans spent $159 million (around €134.13 million) on plant-based Bratwursts last year, a 40 percent increase compared to 2018. There are currently no reliable figures concerning the sale of Veggie-Bratwursts in Germany.

READ ALSO: Quiz: How well do you know German food culture?

From the Currywurst to the Nuremberg, Thuringian and ham varieties – meat substitutes for the Bratwurst are available in all imaginable forms. According to Proveg, peas, wheat, oats, soya and lupines are the most popular alternatives amongst manufacturers.

A classic Bratwurst from Thuringia. Photo: DPA

More is known, however, about centuries-old meat-based variety. According to data from the German Butchers Association (DFV), the average German ate three kilograms of meat-based Bratwurst in 2018.

They are also becoming increasingly popular with consumers: in 1990, Bratwursts accounted for just 4.3 percent of all meat and sausage product sales. By 2018 this figure had more than doubled to 9.1 percent.

READ ALSO: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Germany?

Pork is the meat most frequently used by butchers, followed by beef, lamb and poultry, explains DFV food technologist Axel Nolden.

One of the most popular variants is the Thuringian Rostbratwurst, seasoned with distinctive spices such as Marjoram. According to Nolden, there are significant regional differences between the various types of Bratwurst.

Only the top dogs of the Bratwurst world – the Nuremberg and Thuringian Rostbratwurst – benefit from any degree of geographical protection.

When defining the precise parameters of so-called “Protected Geographical Indication”, the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture explained that “at least one stage of the production process has to take place in the area of origin, even though raw ingredients needed to make the sausage can come from other regions”.

READ ALSO: Fear not, eat Bratwurst, says German food minister

Though they may be loved by many, Bratwursts are best enjoyed in moderation to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“The Bratwurst has a very high salt and fat content”, said Antje Gahl of the German Nutrition Society (DGE). 150 grams (ie. one portion) constitutes around half of the recommended daily fat intake (60 to 80 grams), and makes up almost a third of the recommended daily energy intake. The DGE has no data concerning meat-free alternatives. 

Caution is also advised when preparing Bratwursts. Regardless of whether it is fried or grilled, Gahl warns that carcinogenic substances can form on foods cooked to the “well-done” stage. The DGE therefore advises that Bratwürste should be cooked with care.

Translated by Eve Bennett.

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Paris Agriculture show returns for 2022 event

The Paris farm show is back after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Set to be held one month before the presidential election, the 2022 event will be politically loaded.

French President Emmanuel Macron checks the quality of a cow during the Paris Agriculture show.
French President Emmanuel Macron checks the quality of a cow during the Paris Agriculture show. The event returns in late February after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. (Photo by Ludovic Marin / POOL / AFP)

The organisers of the Salon de l’agriculture, an annual farm show held in Paris, have announced that the 2022 event will be held from February 26th – March 6th.

The 2021 edition was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic – and the 2020 event was cut short – and there had been fears that this year would suffer the same fate. 

“This edition will not be like the others,” wrote the organisers in a statement, out of “respect for the health guidelines.” 

Mask-wearing rules, added ventilation inside exhibition tents and special measures to facilitate tastings during the pandemic will be implemented. Visitors will need to hold a valid health pass. 

The event falls just over one month before the first round of the presidential election, set for April 10th – and candidates will be sure to milk the opportunity to score political points. 

The event is the annual highlight of the agriculture sector – which employs about 759,000 people in France – and many more rely on the agricultural sector indirectly for employment. The sector was valued at €81.2 billion in 2021.

“This is a highly anticipated event, not just for the farming community, but also for citizens, political leaders and the media,” wrote the event organisers. 

Former President Jacques Chirac pioneered the use of the farm show as a political event, visiting almost every year from 1972- 2011. 

Former President Jacques Chirac inaugurates the 2007 Paris farm show.

Former President Jacques Chirac inaugurates the 2007 Paris farm show. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / POOL / AFP)

In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron spent 14 hours strolling through the farm show, shaking hands and speaking with producers. This marathon visit set a new record for a sitting president. 

Previously, Francois Hollande is reported to have paid a 10 hour visit, Jacques Chirac 5.5 hours and Nicolas Sarkozy just four hours. 

The Local visited the show in 2020 to find out why it was so important for politicians to attend. 

READ MORE Why petting cows at the farm show is crucial for French politicians

The event, which is held at the Porte de Versailles in the south of Paris, isn’t just for farmers and politicians – it’s hugely popular with the public and thousands of people usually attend. 

The full ticket price is €15, for children between 6-12 it is €8 and children under six can go free. There are also group discounts available. 

Tickets can be bought online here and at the venue itself.