Oktoberfest gets a lot of column inches—the legislated purity of Bavarian beer, the goofy hats, the giant urinal troughs—while Maifest always gets short shrift.
And who does not excite himself over a Maibaum in the willage? Certainly not the folks at Zeitgeist Northwest, who are hosting a Maifest at Oaks Amusement Park on May 18, with a beribboned Maypole for the kids and some yodeling and some, you know, beer.
But there’s one Maifest tradition they won’t be observing: The hanging of the sausage. Back in olden times, the Germans hung sausage from the Maypole as a symbol of pride and industry vis-à-vis the stuffing of spiced meat into digestive parts.
Here’s a short guide
to the types of German sausage you can hang at home, from your home
Maypole, for Maifest. Because if there’s one thing Portland loves, it’s
old-school meat. Let your meat flag fly, Portland.
- Bratwurst (Old Country Sausage Co., 4839 NE 106th Ave.): Bratwurst is the pizza of sausage, as seemingly every German region has its own version. It’s also the most standard: chopped veal, pork or beef and mild spicing in a fat casing. It’s good. Just ask the entire state of Wisconsin.
- Bierwurst (Old Country): Pepper-garlic beer sausage, for eating with beer. Because black pepper is so spicy for the German palate. A smoked sausage made with pre-cured meat.
- Currywurst (Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen, 3119 SE 12th Ave.): This sausage from Edelweiss is a beautifully trashy German street food (pork sausage seasoned with curry ketchup), all wrapped up one package: curried pork in a sausage. You want to eat like a fat Berliner? Just add ketchup.
- Weisswurst (Edelweiss): Bavarian breakfast; you eat it after noon, you lose your hair, the superstition goes. It’s white because no nitrites are added, which means you should always eat it fresh. Also, don’t grill: cook it in hot water just shy of boiling.
- Blutwurst (Edelweiss): The least kosher food, maybe ever: pig’s blood, pork fat, seasoning. But awesome. As with weisswurst, you cook this in hot, sub-boiling water. Or you can fry up thin slices and crisp it into little scabs. Yum.
- Liverwurst (Edelweiss): Liver sausage, man. Pig liver, some veal, some allspice. This one’s a mini-version, which kind of makes organ meat seem cute.
- Braunschweiger (Otto’s Sausage Kitchen, 4138 SE Woodstock Blvd.): Liverwurst on crack. Or, at least, on hickory. Smoked liverwurst, often with extra pork or beef trimmings, usually used as a spread.
- Mettwurst (Otto’s): Minced, cured pork sausage, often heavily spiced with mustard seed or onion. Germans don’t do pepper spice, but they will knock your sinuses the fuck out.
- Frankfurter (Olympic Provisions, 1632 NW Thurman St.): Do you need this explained? Spiced sausage, Frankfurt style. Very popular among Americans
GO: Maifest, a German-themed celebration of spring, is at Oaks Amusement Park, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, on Saturday, May 18. 10 am-7 pm. zeitgeistnorthwest.org.