Leberkäse: This meat dish traditionally contains neither liver nor cheese, which puts my Sprachgefühl to a serious test

Literally: “liver cheese” / a German meat dish that traditionally does not contain liver nor cheese

Leberkäse is a real Oktoberfest staple just like beer and pretzels. It consists of sausage meat similar to baloney, which is composed of pork, bacon, ice, and some condiments. However, the two ingredients that you would most likely expect are missing in a traditional Leberkäse: liver and cheese.

At least if we consider the original Bavarian Leberkäse, which is said to have been invented in the 18th century. The Leber part possibly refers to the bread-like form of the specialty and originated from the word Laib (“loaf”). The second part of the name, Käse, might have been derived from “Kas,” which in Bavarian describes an edible mass. The “Laibkas” then became Leberkäse over the years, if you trust some sources. 

There are other variations, such as “Stuttgarter Leberkäse,” which by law must contain 5% liver. Most producers (and consumers), however, focus on the Bavarian version, which is simpler in taste yet more confusing in etymology. But, then again, I don’t even want to know what it’s made of when it is sold for 1 Euro at a meat counter.


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