Thursday, February 11, 2010

For German Butchers, a Wurst Case Scenario

I wanted to share this article from the Smithsonian: For German Butchers, a Wurst Case Scenario. The article chronicles the recent demise in German butcher craft.

As a food lover, and descendent of German immigrants, I found the article very interesting. It is sad to see the "progress" of modern societies in Germany moving to mega-mart style commodity foodstuffs; following in the footsteps of the U.S. consumerism plight.

From my early days as a child, I can remember my grandfather's small farm, and the occasional slaughter and processing of a hog. It was amazing to see all the different uses of every piece of the animal in many different cuts of meat, sausages, etc. My favorite was always a version of smoked, dried sausage that was processed, hung and cured in a small smokehouse out on the property. These sausages were flavored with a good amount of pepper and garlic, and being cured and requiring no refrigeration, they were a great addition to take along for a picnic, hike, etc.

The German butcher and delicatessen model seems to be disappearing as operators either go out of business, or slide in quality due to the younger generation’s lax demands for real quality and authenticity. Even where I grew up in South Texas, where many Germans settled in the late 1800's and early 1900's, it is becoming harder to find a really good version of what I ate as a child, and what my grandfather produced at slaughter time. For better or for worse, I guess this is what we have.

Despite my disappointment sprouting from an ever-decreasing real food marketplace, I am still hopeful that a small population of younger people will revive some of the older food traditions and recipes. While there are far less options than before for craft style food, I am very happy to support the remaining purveyors in my area.

One place in particular is Hans’ German Sausage and Deli, just south of Seattle, WA in Burien. At Hans’, you can find a variety of sausages and meats made in-house. In addition to meats, they also have the expected other German and European food imports, as well as German style breads brought in from near-by artisan bakeries. This place is a must visit if you are in the area and interested in German food and supporting local business.

In addition to Hans’, I thought of a few other great places I have come across in the past where you can find some German meat delights! I would love to hear your comments on any great local food outlets carrying on traditions in your area.

Bavarian Meats (Seattle, WA)

Uli’s Famous Sausage (Seattle, WA)

K & K Foodliner Ltd (Edmonton, AB, Canada)

Granzin’s Meat Market (New Braunfels, TX)