Last weekend, with its record setting temperatures, gave me the perfect reason ('excuse', said my wife) to begin my quest to find the "Best Wurst" (for the uninitiated see my article here).
The biggest question was where? Munich, unlike Berlin, Hamburg or Vienna, does not really have the same sausage culture of those cities. In any of those there are Würstl stands every 50 metres. Here in Munich the choices are limited.
Viktaulienmarkt seemed the logical place to begin, in the center of the Altstadt (Old Town), but I was quite sure it would be absolutely overrun with tourists, shoppers and the occasional stray Bavarian. An inauspicious beginning was not what I needed. So I decided to begin my journey where all journeys in any European city should begin. No, not the tourist information office but the central train station (Hauptbahnhof or Hbf). It never ceases to amaze me when I see the different people from different backgrounds who congregate at their closest central train stations in Europe, as they discuss and fix all the world's problems, invariably with some alcoholic beverage. Munich, despite its well-deserved reputation for safety, cleanliness and a place where the police often outnumber the demonstrators, is no exception. Does this happen in America? Probably not, because we would need some trains and train stations first, and then permission to drink in public. The Republicans would never go for that. They prefer to do their drinking at private parties thrown by big oil companies or banks.
Now before you go chastising me about my selection of Hbf, let me at least tell you that there is a very large selection of different things to eat there, as well as a few interesting shops which can easily rob you of a half hour and 20 EURO. And they are open on Sundays. But I was there on Saturday, which is not nearly as crowded as Sundays. I perused the many offerings from the different food stands. The pizza I saw reminded me of some I remember seeing in Amsterdam, and immediately a burning sensation began smouldering in my gut. I had to get my focus back. In search of sausage. Beer. One Wurst to rule them all.
And there she was. A flood of memories came back to me as I was transfixed by her beautiful blue eyes and blond hair! Yorma's! They have a completely underrated sausage there, fairly cold beer and wonderful, friendly cashiers who speak German with a heavy accent from Saxony, which makes them very difficult to understand (and sound funny). And there are about 15 Yorma's at Hbf. Each one has Würstl. It is like political ads on the TV in the USA, about every two minutes you get another Yorma's. I have not tried all their Wurst, but everyone I have spoken to said there is only one Wurst worth eating: The Käsekrainer.
Now the Käsekrainer is actually a Wurst from Austria (though Slovenia says it's actually theirs, and have asked Austria to keep their hands off of Slovenia's sausage). The borders are usually open between Austria and Bavaria (the Austrians do lightly bilk the Germans though, at every occasion) and that allows for the import of these delicious Würstl regularly. It is slightly red in colour, and is made from a mixture of beef and pork. But there are two wonderful surprises with this particular Wurst. Inside they contain some smoked cheese that is not liquidy but a bit oozy if the Wurst is done correctly. The other jewel is that they are served with horseradish if you like which gives them a nice bite which compliments the cheese. They also have a nice pop sound when you bite into them. They are served in a Semmeln (Kaiser Roll), and cost only a little bit over 2 EURO. With a beer, the whole experience will set you back about 4 EURO. In Munich, that is like parking for about 5 minutes.
So I got my breakfast and settled down at a standing table. I proceeded to watch the incoming trains, as they unloaded their cargoes of tourists (mostly) on the platforms. Since it was Saturday I was unable to experience that German passion, schadenfreude (in English-schadenfreude), since that happens mostly during the workweek when VIP's miss their trains to Hamburg or Berlin because they had to wait a half hour to get their check from the waiter in some local restaurant. But nonetheless, I was able to watch a very eclectic mix of people in the train station and I was only roused thrice by some of the local women who were checking the rubbish bins for bottles, cans or other objects that have deposits. One of them even asked me to finish my beer quickly so she could have my empty bottle. I shooed her away and was able to finish my breakfast in relative peace and then I caught the 9:30am train home.
I think next weekend I'll go to Rotkreuzplatz (Red Cross Place), where I hear they have a pretty nice Würstl stand.
Sausage: 5 out of 10 (not bad, but it's still a sausage from a stand at a train station)
Atmosphere: 6 out of 10 (a great place to watch people, and the police patrol regularly so you feel very secure)
Price: 5 out of 5
Transit Connections: 5 out of 5
Intangibles: 2 out of 3 (not an easy Wurst to find)
Total 23 out of 33