Goodbye to Currywurst: Could Richard Armitage zuzeln?

[This is a humorously-intended post in continuation of my speculation today that it’s possible Richard Armitage’s next project could be in an adaptation of the Robert Harris novel, Munich. I possess no knowledge that, nor do I care if, Armitage actually does so. It’s mostly an opportunity to tease Linda60.]

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It’s not clear that Armitage will go to Munich (gosh, that makes him sound like Neville Chamberlain), but should he, he may have one quality that’s important to success in Munich.

To wit: the active tongue.

Richard Armitage flirtatiously displays the tongue of concentration on the Lorraine show in 2010.

To explain why an acrobatic and skilled tongue is especially important in Munich, I have to give non-Germans a little background.

As I mentioned some time ago, Germany isn’t a nation in the sense we typically think of — it’s a country made up of smaller countries that were finally politically united in 1871, and so many smaller “national” or “regional” identities still persist within it, just as there’s a notion of Germandom that’s greater than Germany (Großdeutschtum), so that there are Austrians, Swiss, Poles, French, Czechs and Italians who are also in some vague sense “German.”

Hence the confusion two years ago when Richard Armitage tweeted this picture.

 

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We knew he was in Berlin, and while these dancers are “German,” or anyway this cultural form is typically coded “German” outside of Germany, they are actually from from Steinegg / Collepietra, a village in the South Tyrol — in northern Italy since 1919. Before that it was part of Austria. There are Bavarians who dress in traditional costumes and do this kind of dance, too, but neither is this representative of “Germany” as a whole, even if a lot of Germans who live in Germany enjoy the mountains and the landscape. No Berliner worth his Currywurst would be caught dead dressing or dancing like this (although he might go on vacation there)

Speaking of sausage, though: you can get Currywurst anywhere in Germany, but Munich is the capital of Bavaria and the characteristic sausage of the Bavarians is called Weißwurst.

Bavarian classic: Two WeißwüŸrste and a pretzel. There should be a sweet hot mustard for this photo to be complete, and a wheat beer or a lager (helles) is the expected beverage. Foto: Matthias Schrader dpa/lby

The origins of the sausage are a little obscure, even if the people of Munich claim they invented them in the nineteenth century. They might be a descendant of French boudin blanc, or an older Munich or Swabian style of a sausage called Bockwurst. There are also other areas that cultivate a Weißwurst tradition (Silesia is one), but in general we can say that the Weißwurst is a southern German phenomena, and the line between places where it appears organically and those where it does not is called the Weißwurst Equator.

The various definitions of the Weißwurstäquator: 1) The Speyer line (green), which is the boundary between the mountainous parts of Germany and the lowlands as well as a dialectical boundary; 2) the river Main line as the frontier of Prussian hegemony before 1871 (red) — the Prussians having been the archenemies of the Bavarians then and now; 3) the 49° latitude (black). The yellow circle traces a 100 km radius around Munich where you are most likely to find the “traditional Munich” Weißwurst.

The rules about the composition and preparation of sausage are extremely strict in Germany (such that there have been EU tussles about the question as that stuff they label “sausage” in England is pretty clearly not the same thing as “Wurst” — and I agree with the objection). They are controlled by guild regulation and state laws. To be a Weißwurst, a sausage must be composed of at least 51 percent muscle meat (ideally, mostly veal), with no more than 25 percent of its weight of added water and a total composition of no more than 30 percent fat and no more than 10 percent of Häutelwerk (these are pieces of the calf’s head or piglet skins). The remainder of the meat, if not veal, is usually pork, and pickling salt and spices and seasonings are added according to the recipe of the butcher (usually parsley and onion at a minimum). The ingredients must be ground at a temperature near 32F, leading to the addition of ice, hence the limit on water content. Once the filling is prepared, it is filled into a pork casing (important because pork intestines have the necessary thick appearance) and then simmered in a vat of hot water for about 30 minutes, which gives it its greyish white color.

Filling a Weißwurst. Before it’s cooked, the filling is pink. It is extruded into the casing and then when it’s reached the regulation length, it is twisted several times and a new one begins immediately.

If you make sausage yourself, you’re asking yourself: what about the preservatives? The Weißwürste you get in Munich, if you buy them from a butcher as opposed to a supermarket, do not have preservatives. As a consequence, you buy them fresh to eat on the spot or take them home, pop them in a terrine full of broth or hot water, and consume them immediately. There’s even a saying about how a Weißwurst made in the morning should never survive to hear the noon church bell, although you can find them any time of day.

Thanks for your patience. Now I can talk about why Richard Armitage may need his tongue in Munich.

Richard Armitage and his tongue of concentration in Toronto, 2012.

As with all natural casing sausages, the casing of the Weißwurst is edible. However, part of its aura is that it uses the larger, thicker pork intestine — which allows for a thicker sausage, which in turn creates the need to simmer it, because if fried or even boiled, it will explode in the pan and that will be no fun. (Here’s a scientific paper by some Munich computer scientists on the necessary considerations involved in consuming your Weißwurst.) Because the casing is so thick, it might not be as enjoyable to eat, especially if the sausage wasn’t made just a few hours prior.

In light of this relatively coarse casing, the true connoisseur of the Weißwurst does this thing called: zuzeln.

Here’s a picture of someone zuzzling her Weißwurst. Yeah, it does look mildly obscene, I can’t do anything about that.

To zuzeln, one bites into the end of the sausage and then uses the tongue, teeth and lips to free the sausage filling from the casing. In the process of eating this way, the sausage is essentially sucked out of the casing. Here’s another demonstration that shows how you add the mustard.

To be fair, not everyone in Munich eats a Weißwurst by zuzzling — it’s more common in the elder generation, and in more rural areas of Upper Bavaria. As you can see, zuzzling works in the first photo above because the sausage is firm enough not to need its casing to hold together, so some people will tell you that the newer Weißwürste are not capable of being zuzzled because they have too much water and fat in them.

If you can’t zuzeln, or don’t want to make yourself look silly, you can use a knife and fork. In this case, the knife is used to separate the skin from the sausage filling.

This is the modern method, but someone told me years ago that it’s uncool to have more than one on the plate at once. You order them in pairs but you have to eat them singly. No idea if that’s true.

But honestly — I want to see Richard Armitage move to Munich, learn to zuzeln, and send us a picture of himself doing it. It would mean that the tongue of concentration was finally being fully exploited!

I bet he’s already thinking about zuzzling!

 

~ by Servetus on October 25, 2017.

21 Responses to “Goodbye to Currywurst: Could Richard Armitage zuzeln?”

  1. Images.
    In my head.

    (Thank you for making me snigger. :-))

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  2. Lol. My South Asian friend tells me that ideally mangoes should be eaten in a similar fashion. So the technique and the tongue also could be put to good use in “The Serpent” maybe! See Mango Mash at http://www.mango.org/en/About-Mangos/Eating-Mangos

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  3. Ich lebe eingekeilt zwischen Weißwurstäquator im Spsen und Limes im Norddn. Einerseits weit genug weg, um von den Bayern ignoriert zu werden, aber immerhin noch innerhalb des Hl. Römischen Reiches 😂 Und Weißwurst liebe ich seehr. Bevorzuge allerdings auch die uncoole, weniger eklige Variante mit Besteck. Zuzzeln ist nicht! 😊

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    • I think I’ve only eaten it two or three times. It’s not kosher and I had this rule while I lived in Germany that I could try anything once (so I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out) and under pressing social circumstances I could also break the rules. Now, it wouldn’t matter to me so much, but in the 1990s I was pretty strict. I’ve never zuzzled myself, although I’ve seen people do it. But I seem to be more comfortable with finger food than many Germans my age.

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  4. I love Weisswurst and the special sweet mustard. My brother lived in Regensburg and each time I was visiting him we have eaten these sausages. They never heard the noon bell. Weisswurst is really good and zuzzeln is a “mordsgaudi” (=great fun)
    I think, RA would try to zuzzeln Weisswurst and drink a “Weizen” (beer)

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  5. Hehehe… that’s got me giggling 😊 Excellent research and very instructive!

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  6. Lawdy, Serv! It’s too early in my morning to have these images in my head! 😏😱😈🍧

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  7. Haha, I had no idea you were so knowledgeable regarding Munich customs! I guess I have to be counted to the older generation, because I do zuzel my Weisswurst. I don’t eat them more often than once a year or so, and hardly can eat more than one at a time. Anyway, traditionally Weisswurst is the one exception were you don’t order pairs but single numbers – at least that used to be the case when I was young 😉

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    • I have had Munich friends over the years. Mir san mir and all that, and since exSO was a northerner they were eager to try to get me on their side 🙂

      Good to know about the numbers. I suppose if you order more you risk looking a bit greedy. Once a year is about how often I’d like to eat them, too. Although I like the mustard a lot, you can put that on the Brezn.

      I hope you have passed on your skill to the next generation. It’s important to preserve cultural traditions like this.

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  8. Hahahah!!! Thanks, for the tease!! Du Schlawinerin!! Once or twice a year enjoying “Weißwürschte” is great (as I’m not a big meat eater anyway!) At home we used to have them for “Heilig Abend”. I’m a strict fork and knife eater (no Zuzeln on my part! 😉 but it would be such a pleasure watching him doing this tongue-mouth thing!!! Awwwww……
    BTW the “Weißwurstäquator” is still relevant!!!!! 😀
    Hope there will be a “Happy morning Weißwurschtzuzeln come together” any time soon….

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    • If he worked in Munich, maybe he’d come to the theater … where you probably don’t have any Weißwürste, though.

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      • No Weißwürste for Richie!! (But of course, if he gives us due notice we can arrange “something” in the props department!! 😉 ) Right now we are in the middle of a total nervewracking transformation, and a major renovation of the theatre, because of the change of our artistic director, and the whole artistic team which (amongst other things) led to the closing down of the restaurant we used to have in the basement, until the end of last season (4 months ago). Now there is a new small venue for “the little ones” which guarantees a very cosy experience!! You are very welcome Mr. Armitage! 🙂

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