by Taylor Record
Any grilled-meat-loving person knows that Bratwurst and Sauerkraut go together like… well… Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. So you can almost imagine my dejection as I ordered my Original Thuringer Rostbratwurst at a roadside stand in Berlin, Germany, and my request for the fermented topping was denied!
“ Germans don’t really eat sauerkraut on this,” she told me with a thick German accent and the look of pity plastered across her face.
I felt like a naïve American tourist as I solemnly ate my German Brat, lonely in the crisped bun with a just the swirly pattern of yellow mustard to keep it company. It was if the world as I thought I knew it had been altered. She probably thinks I’m an amateur. Maybe they call sauerkraut something different. Maybe bratwursts aren’t really even German. Is this German beer even German??
Three years later, and today is finally the day to uncover the real answer to this timeless question. Do they eat sauerkraut on Bratwursts in Germany?
I searched all over the web, and the verdict is sometimes?
In Germany, some bratwursts are often served with crusty bread, potato salad, and sauerkraut. However, the Thuringer variety is traditionally served on bread and brushed with mustard. Judging by the strict adherence to Thuringian tradition in composition and preparation of this bratwurst, I wouldn’t be the tourist to demand kraut on this dog.
Perhaps the best source of information I have is the information that the woman at the eggy-walled stand gave me. I smiled and even spit out the best “Guten Tag!” I could muster. I can’t imagine she mislead me to deter bad etiquette!
And if she was trying to fool me, she certainly won. She would probably be quite amused that I have devoted three years and, well–probably only 30 minutes of thought to the issue–but that is certainly more brainpower than I typically spare on a single lunch item.
One of the most exhilarating and amusing parts about traveling the world is experiencing a whole new sector of ingredients and culinary feats. From fried tarantula to durian, there is no more literal way to get a taste for a culture than to taste the food. Take note of your ordering missteps and serving faux pas along the way, and you’ll move away from novice tourist to regional expert.
So please, fellow travelers, ask politely about the kraut-laws for your brat of choice before boldly requesting. As for beer pairings and mustard etiquette… you’ll have to figure those out for yourself.