The latest marketing fad is calling any food product positioned as non-generic to be ‘artisanal.’ Here’s a real gourmet product made by real artisans — and it serves 13,000 people.
There’s no shortage of “world’s longest, largest, biggest” somethings being announced on the last 30 seconds of some local newscast. The tagline in all such stories is the ubiquitous “They’re hoping to set a new Guinness World Record.”
Here’s one record-breaker that won’t be duplicated anytime soon: the world’s longest Leberkäse — created amidst vocal vegan opposition, of course.
But let’s start with the sausage.
According to a story on the German news site Deutsche Welle (German Wave), members of the butchers’ guild in the city of Ulm created the world’s longest Leberkäse late last month, an event that caused quite a stir in the historic town.
Here’s how dw.com described it:
“As hundreds of locals gathered along the banks of the River Donau [the Danube River] on Sunday — many of them eager to snap a selfie with the meaty dish — Peter Hornung, a surveying technician from the city of Ulm, confirmed that the cooked sausage was 530 feet long.”
With that “official” measurement, the previous record of 328½ feet was broken. Importantly, as city officials noted, the record length “was as long as the city’s minster is high” (minster meaning, “church,” as in Westminster Abbey).
The record-breaking sausage was baked in a furnace specially constructed by one Marcus Pscheidl in cooperation with the University of Ulm, a giant oven fashioned with 4½ tons of sheet metal and built to go around a corner.
“This is ambitious, and has highly symbolic value,” Deutsche Welle quoted Ulm’s Lord Mayor Gunter Czisch. “That’s craftsmanship.”
One of the reasons this particular “world’s greatest” event has added significance is its location. The city of Ulm was founded in 850 A.D., back when the world was flat and the sun revolved around the Earth.
Equally impressive, in the 14th century the local trade guilds signed what today would be called a collective bargaining agreement with the town’s merchants, a document considered to be an early city charter. The guild members then proceeded to build the Ulm Minster church, which was financed by the residents themselves, rather than by the Catholic Church.
And on the subject of Guinness World Records, Ulm Minster is officially listed as the world’s tallest church, its steeple topping out at 529 feet, making the mayor’s reference to Herr Hornung’s measurement of some significance.
Speaking of significance: Every small city lays a claim to fame by lauding its native sons. In the case of Ulm, does the name Albert Einstein ring a bell?
Einstein’s theory of relativity pushed physics and science into entirely new dimensions, but so did this monster meatloaf, which weighed in at one-and-a-quarter tons.
Actually, that’s not correct. Leberkäse, which literally translates as “liver cheese,” isn’t a meatloaf, but rather a specialty sausage originating in southern Germany. It is made from a recipe combining corned beef, pork, bacon and onions and is traditionally served in a hard bread roll. In Austria and parts of Switzerland, it’s also known as Fleischkäse, or “meat cheese.”
After crafting the record-breaker, the Ulm-Alb-Donau Butchers Guild carved up individual servings for the onlookers. At €2.50 euros a serving, proceeds from the approximately 13,000 portions will be donated to a fund that maintains the city’s landmark church.
The veggie alternative
Just a few hundred meters away in Ulm’s city center, however, a group of vegetarian activists gathered to carve up the butchers, symbolically speaking.
“The pigs have to take the rap so that humans can exhaust technical possibilities,” said Markus Barth, a member of the vegetarian group called Laupheim-Schwendi.
I’m guessing his group’s name must be meaningful in German, because it sure wouldn’t create much traction on a t-shirt worn by American protestors.
According to dw.com, Barth’s group served an alternative buffet of vegetarian kebobs, vegan bratwurst and, of course, pseudo-Leberkäse made from soybeans and seitan.
Thanks, but I’ll pass.
In response to the protest, Raimund Hörmann of the butchers’ guild noted that, “We used to be hunters and gatherers; we nourish ourselves with meat.”
Jawhol, Herr Hörmann.
Couldn’t have said it any better myself.