Yes, the wurst, we all know what this is, this special delicacy that was and is as important as bread and water! This Hungarian version of sausage was the only sausage served at our club at one point and it was always available.
I am not a wurst maker so I cannot tell you much about that, although I have several friends who make it almost every year. Looking back at our club’s history books you will find at least 17 butcher/delicatessen, and purveyors who advertise speck und wurst sales. In 1940s and 50s my mom says her mom and dad visited one of these shops almost weekly to get their supply. Back home in Banat this was not the case. At each household, the wurst was made whenever they butchered a pig.
I have read many articles about the wurst, and the slaughter, but there is not much written about how we Schwobs got hooked on this to begin with. Here at the United German Hungarians, the older people just called it brotwurst, we advertised it for a time as U.G.H. Wurst or German Hungarian wurst. Either way there is nothing German about this sausage and I am convinced we got hooked on it from our Hungarian neighbors and it stuck. It is a Hungarian Sausage. My friends in Serbia still purchase and or make this sausage exactly as we have for a few hundred years now.
Just as recipes for meals vary from house to house the recipe for wurst can vary as well. Often you will hear someone say, “this wurst isn’t right,” and that is because it just isn’t made by your own Dad, grandfather, or the butcher that you have bought wurst from for the last twenty years. My friend Peter would have his dad make a special batch for him as he liked certain spices that the other family members didn’t like. We all got hooked on Frank Welsch’s wurst for a long time as he was one of the lone surviving shops of the wurst makers I mentioned earlier. Later Frank Walter convinced Ernst Illg to produce the wurst along the lines of the Welsch recipe and we all got hooked on that. Today Riekers makes and sells Hungarian wurst which I think is very good.
As I speak of the wurst, I speak of the smoked version, we (rarely) got fresh (not smoked) wurst although the fresh unsmoked can be very good. As a kid my mom and Dad ordered smoked wurst from Frank Welsch. A small portion of which we kept aside to cook for dinner. The most was hung in my dad’s wine cellar to dry. The cellar which my dad built originally for my Opa to make and store his wine was cool, dry, and perfect for this operation. The room had an unbelievably great comfort smell of grape and wine and when the smoked wurst was added to hang in there, the aroma was like heaven! As a young boy I would go in there with my Opa and we would taste the wine, we did the same with the wurst. My Dad couldn’t wait for the full drying process to be complete, and he would take a knife and cut a small piece off and I will never forget the smile on his face as we tasted the wurst just as I had tasted the wine with my Opa.
In later years we got the wurst from other good folks. For a while we got it from an old German guy my Omi knew, then some we got from friends who made very good wurst. Mike Piskei, John Paul, and Adam Herbert were among our family’s suppliers. Also, later my Omi became the one responsible to get the wurst, and I remember at some point while sitting together my dad would say
“Mutti wann bestellst du die Wurst?”
This was no small operation we ordered over 100 pounds at a time. 90 percent of it was to be dried. Later we also dried the wurst in my Omi’s attic, she would call me to come and hang it, as it needed to be hung per her instructions immediately, “oder es gibt sauer.”
When the wurst was dried to our liking it was time to package it. We individually wrapped each piece in aluminum foil, then about ten or twelve pieces went into a white bread bag and tied shut. My dad would set aside a bag for each of us, a few for my mom, a few for my aunt Sieglinde and so on. All the rest went into the freezer. We ate the wurst as snack at every chance, it went to the shore it went to ski trips, it went to our work and a piece was broken in half from time to time and along with a piece of rye bread was my dinner on the way to soccer practice. Those bread bags full of wurst made it to Colorado and we ate the wurst on the mountain. There was also a bag set aside for our friend Helmut Fricker as he just loved our Hungarian wurst.
Nowadays, I buy smaller quantities of wurst, and we will cook some for dinner, but a few pieces always get set aside and dried. I dry it differently by laying it in my refrigerator in the garage. We also carry on a tradition from back in Banat, where on Christmas Eve after midnight mass they would eat smoked Hungarian wurst after returning from church. My family always had Cooked wurst on Christmas Eve and in my Home, I continue that tradition with a simple but very special family meal of cooked Hungarian wurst, a good hearty bread, potatoes, and a salad.
I think I’m done with this writing, and I need to go to my garage!
Werner Fricker Jr.