Prepare for the wurst

Lifestyle and LeisureCookingWrigleyvilleGermany

Oktoberfest time is here, but you don't even know a bockwurst from a brat. We hear you: One source we consulted estimated that there are more than 1,500 types of German sausage. To help you get ready for Oktoberfest, here's a rundown of popular sausages and spots to scarf them.

Sausage: Bratwurst
What is it, anyhow?Generally mild, white sausage and usually a blend of veal and pork, but we've seen everything from turkey to andouille brats.
What it brings to the party: Are you kidding? This is the party! Oktoberfest without a brat is like a brat without a beer!
Where to eat it: Go for a little Old World atmosphere at Mirabell with an all-veal version, pan-fried and served with German mustard and horseradish ($15.95 with sides).

Sausage: Thuringer
What is it, anyhow? Similar to a brat (pork or pork blend), but it might be sold fresh or smoked for a slightly more intense flavor.
What it brings to the party: German pride. Thuringer sausages are named after a region in Germany, which upholds recipe traditions there.
Where to eat it: At Chicago Brauhaus, you can have a pork-and-veal version ($6.95 for lunch; $7.50 dinner), served fried with red cabbage, sauerkraut and German fries.

Sausage: Braunschweiger
What is it, anyhow? You may know it simply as liver sausage, but braunschweiger is a smoky spread made from pork liver.
What it brings to the party: Spreadabililty. This smoky, finely ground smear is the poor man's pate.
Where to eat it: It's hard to find a good braunschweiger sandwich these days, but Laschet's Inn serves a nice liver sausage for $5.95, with coleslaw and a pickle.

Sausage: Mettwurst
What is it, anyhow? Sometimes called teewurst or smearwurst, this ready-to-eat spreadable pork product's popular on crackers or bread.
What it brings to the party: Instant gratification. Like braunschwieger, this soft and lightly smoked paste comes ready to eat.
Where to eat it: Bill Begale, owner of Paulina Market, tells us a German native recently came into the store and was so excited to find hickory-smoked mettwurst ($5) that he ate it right at the bus stop.

Sausage: Bockwurst
What is it, anyhow? A thinner, pale sausage that contains lots of veal, some pork and telltale green flecks of chives and parsley.
What it brings to the party: This unsmoked, smaller link is sometimes served as a breakfast sausage, and it goes great with sweet mustard.
Where to eat it: Hard to find at restaurants, you can always find it at Paulina Market, which also sells a ton of these luscious links.

Sausage: Knackwurst
What is it, anyhow? These stubby plumpers are a hodgepodge of meat, usually beef and/or pork--but you'll know 'em by their garlicky punch.
What it brings to the party: Sound effects. Perfect for frying: When they crack open, you know they're done.
Where to eat it: Head to Resi's Bierstube $11.50 for the knackwurst entree ($6.95), two sausages served with potato salad, sauerkraut and rye bread.

Sausage: Leberkase
What is it, anyhow? Think sausage without the casing. It's a finely ground loaf of veal, pork and beef that's molded instead of stuffed.
What it brings to the party: It may look like plain-old Spam, but this sliced sausage loaf has quite elegant flavor.
Where to eat it: Just-opened Wrigleyville beer hall Uberstein, serves a delish leberkase on marble rye with sauerkraut, red cabbage and dark mustard.

Sausage: Blutwurst
What is it, anyhow? Pig's blood and back fat (or bacon) stuffed in casing. Yum!
What it brings to the party: For most Americans, thoughts of Fear Factor. Germans, however, love it.
Where to eat it: Resi's serves it boiled and paired with a spreadable beef liver sausage, rye bread and butter ($11.95).

Sausage: Schlachtwurst
What is it, anyhow? This pork sausage traditionally consists of a lot of odds and ends--blood, fat and neck meat might be found in one.
What it brings to the party: Coarsely ground schlactwurst was traditionally made to celebrate the seasonal slaughter.
Where to eat it: Buy it by the pound ($9.29) at Hans' Delicatessen Meyer.

Sausage: Weisswurst
What is it, anyhow? It can be any white sausage (weiss means white in German), but around these parts, it most likely means a finely chopped, mild-tasting, all-veal brat.
What it brings to the party: The finely ground veal brings a bit of refinement to your average brat.
Where to eat it: Glunz Bavarian Haus offers two links, as well as a hot pretzel ($10.95). Try it with sweet mustard.

Sausage: Landjager
What is it, anyhow?The ready-to-eat German answer to salami, made with beef, bacon and brandy.
What it brings to the party: Instead of shootin' some Jager, chew some 'jager with this portable snack stick.
Where to eat it: Get 'em at German-American Fest this weekend!

[ chris lamorte is the metromix dining producer. ] clamorte@metromix.com Updated Sept. 12, 2006

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