Germans love mettbrot, but will it give me worms?

Matt Gross
Updated: February 07, 2018

Baby, I like it raw. Fish, from sushi to ceviche, and back again. Beef, whether it’s tartared Paris-style or kitfo’d like in Ethiopia. I’ve even had horsemeat sashimi, in Kyoto, and loved the hell out of it.

But mettbrot—mettbrot made me nervous. That’s because mettbrot is raw pork, minced with salt, pepper, mace, and caraway seeds, smeared across rye bread, and eaten across Germany as a breakfast, hangover cure, random snack, or—as my friend Reiner lovingly recalled—school lunch. (“Onions chopped, not sliced!” he specified.) 

Raw pork… man. As an American, I’ve been warned since childhood against the dangers of undercooked pork. Trichinosis is supposed to be the inevitable result, right? Worms in my intestines, cysts in my muscles. Yeesh. 

And yet a whole country is apparently mad about mettbrot. (“The Germans love minced meat just a little too much,” says the Telegraph.) To be fair, Germans are serious about the preparation and labeling of the meat for mettbrot—it apparently must be sold the day it’s processed, to ensure freshness.

photo by alex tepper

Here in New York City, it’s a bit harder to find ready-to-eat raw pork. One butcher we spoke to even refused to sell us the meat when they learned I was going to eat it raw. Finally, though, Staubitz—a century-old butcher in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn—got us the goods.

Now I’ve got a job to do: overcome four decades of propaganda, take a big bite of mettbrot, and try to decide—ist eb grob?

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