“Leberkäse? What exactly is “liver cheese”(the direct translation)? I asked looking up from the menu as we settled in for lunch at a hut overlooking the Chiemsee (lake in the German Alps). My German dining companions struggled to explain. “Well it’s pork” they all quickly agreed. “It’s… a mixture of meat.” “You really just have to try it as it’s difficult to explain,” chimed in someone else. “It’s a local specialty (Bavarian),” offered someone else. “It was invented by the cook of a Bavarian duke,” supplied someone else. Which while all very interesting wasn’t helping me to identify the mystery meat. “Is it made of liver and cheese?” I asked, my lip curled up. “NO” came the reply in unison, although I later found out that while Bavarian Leberkäse doesn’t contain liver, other varieties of Leberkäse do contain a small portion of liver.
Despite my curiosity, I wasn’t feeling confident about ordering the mystery meat so J.P. (my German husband) offered to order it so that I could try a bite. When it came out, I told my German companions that I thought it resembled SPAM which was met with blank stares. “You know the meat that comes out of a can that’s really cheap and popular with university students.” From the scowls on their faces it was clear that my unflattering comparison of Leberkäse to canned meat wasn’t appreciated. I cautiously tasted a small bite – yep it tasted exactly like warm SPAM. I wonder what other “treats” Bavarian royalty were served and how in a time of change Leberkäse has managed to survive 235 years since its founding in 1776.
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