May 19, 2023

While we were in Wichita my brother and I decided to renew the tradition we had prior to my moving to Arkansas and get together for breakfast.  Since my sister was also in town, we expanded this tradition and asked her to join us.  We had previously gone to the same roadside café located halfway between his town and mine, but since we were in the same city, we chose instead to eat at a quaint restaurant nearby.  I could not remember the exact address (or name) so I went on a driving tour the day before to find it before we met.  I texted the location to him and prepared for the following day’s breakfast and conversation.  We arrived at about the same time and were seated at a table toward the front.  Since I was on vacation (I really did not need an excuse) I decided to order the sausage platter.  The plate arrived with fried potatoes covered with eggs, toast on the side, and a humongous sausage draped across the top.  This was going to be a challenge.

When I looked online, I found sausage is a type of meat product usually made from ground meat (pork, beef, or poultry) along with salt, spices, and other flavorings.  Ingredients like grains or breadcrumbs may be included as fillers or extenders.  Used as a general noun, sausage can refer to the loose meat formed into patties or stuffed into a skin.  When referred to as “a sausage”, the product is usually cylindrical and stuffed in a skin or casing.  The casing is traditionally made from intestine but sometimes comes from synthetic materials.  Sausage-making is a traditional food preservation technique, and the meat may be preserved by curing, drying, smoking, or freezing.  Some cured or smoked sausages can be stored without refrigeration, but most fresh sausages must be refrigerated or frozen until they are cooked.  Sausage is made in a wide range of national and regional varieties which differ by the types of meats used, the spicing ingredients, and the manner of preparation.  Vegetarian and vegan varieties of sausage using plant-based ingredients (no meat and synthetic casing) are now widely available.

When my sausage platter arrived, it reminded me of the sausage I was served last year in Cologne, Germany.  The German sausage was lunch rather than breakfast and came with potatoes and sour kraut (and of course German beer) along with an equally enormous sausage.  The Germans were the largest European group who settled in Kansas and this heritage is seen in many Kansas town names.  Some of the Kansas Germans emigrated directly from Germany, but many also came from Russia, Switzerland, Austria, and other parts of the US, including the Pennsylvania Germans.  Germans represent several denominations, but were mostly Mennonites, Quakers, Calvinists, or Protestants.  Germans in Kansas did not always have it easy and were treated as outsiders for years, along with facing anti-German sentiment during World Wars I and II.  I was happy to see even though my favorite German restaurant had failed during the pandemic, the tradition of huge sausage was still alive and well.

Thoughts:  The Germans who immigrated to the US in the late 19th century were met with mistrust and animosity.  The way these immigrants made themselves comfortable was to continue German language newspapers (more than 60 in Kansas) and serving traditional foods, including sausage.  German sausages include Frankfurters or Wieners, Bratwürste, Rindswürste, Knackwürste, Bockwürste, and Currywurst (sausages with curry sauce).  More than a hundred years later most Germans have been assimilated by American culture (as have I), although the Mennonites and Amish are still distinguished.  Today’s Immigrants come with food and traditions that are different than what may now be the norm.  We should learn from our own immigrant past and give them the same 100 years before we complain of a lack of assimilation.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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