The ultimate quick meal in a Viennese household is to whack a couple of Frankfurters into a pot of hot water, then down the results with a bit of bread and a dollop of mustard or ketchup. But what is it?
- Austrian equivalent of the US Wiener (or Vienna) sausage
- Available at sausage stands across the city
- See also: Guide to Vienna sausages
What is a Frankfurter?
The Frankfurter is the Model T Ford of the Viennese sausage world. The plain pancake with no toppings. The simple espresso in the coffee shop of culinary delights.
It’s also a mainstay of the Vienna sausage stands (and likely the cheapest option on the menu), usually served in pairs with a plain white roll, mustard and ketchup.
But what is it?
Well, it’s basically what North America knows as the Wiener or Vienna sausage. But it’s only ever called a Frankfurter here. One story I’ve heard is that this sausage was invented by a Frankfurt butcher living in Vienna, hence the mix up.
Unlike most of its colleagues, this parboiled sausage made from pork and beef is usually cooked in hot water before serving.
The somewhat upmarket colleague of the lowly Frankfurter is the Sacherwürstel, which is similar, but longer, thinner, and with better-quality ingredients.
The result is a slightly darker, more aromatic and a touch “crunchier” sausage.
The Berner Würstel
Another variation is the Berner Würstel. You slice a Frankfurter in half along its length, put cheese between the two halves, wrap the “Frankfurter sandwich” in slices of bacon, then fry the result.
Needless to say, this is not the healthiest of meals. But delicious.
A Wiener is actually German for a male from Vienna, and means precisely that. I’m now a Wiener by choice (I know how that sounds). My wife is a Wienerin (a female from Vienna).
Of course, the term Frankfurter also means someone from the German city of Frankfurt. I don’t know what they call the Wiener/Frankfurter sausage there.
Now let’s just add another layer of complexity to our linguistic tour…
The German for sausage is Wurst. And there is something called Wienerwurst, which literally translates as Wiener sausage. It’s a kind of sliced, processed ham popular in bread rolls.
And then to round off the confusion, mathematics (!) has its own Wiener sausage, which is a representation of something called Brownian motion.
Incidentally, the Wiener/Frankfurter is not the only food with a confusing name. The German word Paprika, for example, is the spice of the same English name, but also the word for bell pepper.