Fleischkäse or Meat Cheese in German is a common snack food here in Baden, perhaps everywhere in Germany. I have avoided it thus far because it looks a little too much like spam. I have however finally succumbed to it and had my first this past weekend. Read the story of a house raising, meat cheese and spam.
What the heck is Fleischkäse?
Fleischkäse is sold as slices from large loafs on the street corners from butchers. It is kind of wobbly and uniform meat-pink in color. There is even a few places that sell a version call Pizza Fleischkäse that is even more appetizing with pockets of cheese that ooze out of the pink flesh. As near as I learned, it is the leftover meat scrapings of the day blended with spices and baked as a loaf. It is also a lot like an American hotdog in that respect. In some why also imagine a block of spam the size of a loaf of bread.
Suffice to say despite several comments to the contrary on other posts, I had not yet tried a piece of Fleischkäse. It just seemed like one of those cultural things that I didn’t need to try. Apparently it is a variant of Leberkäse without liver. Liverwurst probably in the US is also related. Again not making me want to eat it more. Although the article seems to talk about it being an actual wurst, so maybe my “scrapings” idea isn’t right.
Enter The Square Hotdog
So this past weekend I went to a house raising for a friend of mine. Before you start singing too much Weird Al Amish Paradise, this is apparently a normal thing here in Germany. A house once it has its roof finished gets a party. Although I missed this part (by like 30 seconds, argh up hill biking) there is apparently one of the wandering carpenters that comes and blesses the house by slamming a bottle of champagne at it.
Beyond that imagine a normal style barbeque party just in the shell of a house. There are brick walls, a floor, a roof and not much more. They had prepared a group of picnic tables and as appropriate for any German get together crates of beer. It was a great time (thanks Patrick for the invite). They also had as main food Fleischkäse. These, Patrick assured me, were the German equivalent of hotdogs just square. At least from the atmosphere, the pile of rolls next to them and bottles of ketchup and mustard around, that fit.
How does it taste?
So yeah, I picked up a slab of wobbly meat, stuffed it in a roll and squeezed some mustard on in. One bite and really seriously, it tastes like hotdog, just square. So as the shape of a hamburger in a square roll, but the taste and texture of the venerable American favorite. It was good enough that I had two.
The differences are there too. The Germans eat mostly pork, so nope these aren’t kosher. And while I always think of them as being made from butcher leftovers, they are likely far higher quality meat than a hotdog might be. See above Wiki article that it might be normal sausage meat and thus even better than scrapings. In addition, since you know the butcher and the things are not packages in a faraway place and shipped frozen to you, they are probably again a step better. It is still cheap, so I can guess that it isn’t the best cuts, but still neat.
A Last Word on Spam
If you need to envision anything in the American store that is close to Fleischkäse in consistency, you can think of SPAM. The famous pork potted meat that was featured in the Monty Python sketch and from there become the name for the email we would rather not eat (err receive). I had to use this description in reverse today. Apparently SPAM does not exist in Germany in a way that a colleague of mine knew. He knew only of unwanted email. So in my scientific study of 1 person, I have come to the conclusion that SPAM is unknown here. Perhaps Fleischkäse ran it out of town.
While SPAM and Fleischkäse have some things in common, I would not confuse them. There seems to be far less salt (from my last remembered slab of SPAM) in Fleischkäse and again higher quality ingredients. It has also been cooked and served warm. While I will not go back to the US looking to eat potted meat, I may add Fleischkäse to my lunch rotation. Not sure about the oozing Pizza Fleischkäse though.
So ye German travelers and expats, have you tried the Meat Cheese?