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European-American Topics - Cuisine - Wurst

Making the best of the Wurst situation

By Kregg P.J. Jorgenson
Published May 2006


  Stop by Hans’ Sausage and Delicatessen in Burien on any Saturday and you’ll find more than a top-notch selection of fine traditional German sausages, meats, and deli goods. You’ll find a lively piece of Northern Europe comfortably tucked away in the south Seattle suburb.

  Family owned and operated by Hans and Marianne Stewin, the well-stocked store offers over 30 varieties of ‘Old World’ sausages and meats; everything from bratwurst, bockwurst, knackwurst, liverwurst, and if you’ll excuse the pun, the best of the wurst.

  Amidst a mix of languages you’ll also find custom game sausage, salami, polish sausage, gourmet Westphalian hams, and the Austrian style Wieners that put hot dogs to shame. In addition there are fresh German pretzels and bread, sauerkraut, candies and chocolates, spaetzel, magazines, music, tapes, and a nice selection of wines and beers or goods that just can’t be found in substance in local grocery stores.

  The fact of the matter is most chain stores just don’t stock enough of the ‘German style’ fare and all too often what’s left are what some consider the generic ‘one size-one flavor’ fits all commercial brands.

  Still another reason why shoppers can’t find the fresh specialty sausages or meat products from Europe, let alone from any other foreign country in their local markets, has to do with the strict enforcement of government laws that prohibit most, if not all importations.

  Perhaps no one is more aware of this than travelers entering the US who discover this upon arrival and have their regional fresh foodstuffs along with any flowers, fruits and vegetables taken away at the airport or land borders by Federal officers. If a traveler tries sneaking any of them in then not only to the items get confiscated but the offender receives a hefty fine as well.

   A little over three decades ago this wurst case scenario and a demand for the traditional and more flavorful sausages and hand-crafted foods led one expert in the field to literally get to the meat of the matter.

   After immigrating to the United States from Berlin, Germany via Edmonton, Canada, Hans Stewin, a professional journeyman sausage maker, decided there was a better answer and set up his first shop in Burien. That was in 1974.

  Since then the Stewin family and long time employees have manned the counters and filled the orders for fresh European style custom-made sausages, smoked and cured meats, and tasty delicatessen items- all up to the rigorous government standards and all in the classic European style. Here it’s okay to substitute the word classic for delicious because the two go hand-in-hand. 

  Fueled by word-of-mouth, quality products and efficient service their business quickly grew and expanded. Today it is one of the leading specialty stores of its kind with a successful 32-year track record and a loyal customer following.

  The success was no fluke. In fact, the formula blends well with the family’s lineage. From apprentice to journeyman status learned in Berlin under his father’s tutelage Hans, the master sausage maker, has also trained his own son Michael to carry on the proud family legacy. The three generations of expertise and the long hours and hard work by the family became the benchmarks for their success.

  These days, besides the many transplanted Europeans who shop at the store you’ll also find other locals who have happily discovered the ‘Old World’ charm and the dozens of unrivaled flavors and köstlich treats that the delicatessen has to offer. 

  “What I like about this store is their whole European approach to the food thing; that quality and taste matters,” said one obviously satisfied customer ordering a smoke cured ham sandwich on a fresh roll to go (with custom-made mustard). “That’s something the chain restaurants have forgotten and it’s why I don’t do fast-food anymore. I come here instead for better food.”  


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