Q: I’m looking forward to this summer’s round of festivals, and getting my fill of beer and sausage. But when it comes to ordering a bratwurst, I’m always overwhelmed by the choices. Why are there so many? What’s up with that?

A: According to "A Quick Guide to German Sausage," sausage evolved as a practical solution to the dilemma of preserving meat in times prior to refrigeration. Plus, it allows the use of animal parts that aren’t particularly appealing on their own (which we won’t name in detail for fear of spoiling the appetite).

Germany lays claim to more than 1,200 types of sausages or wurst, which are all slightly different in terms of types of meats used, spices, smoking processes, casings or other factors. Here is a handy guide to those you might encounter at your next fest:

Bauernwurst: "Farmer" sausage, distinguished by a coarser texture, and often served with sauerkraut.

Bockwurst: Somewhat resembling a chubby American hot dog, it traditionally features veal, is often smoked, seasoned with fresh herbs and served boiled or, less commonly, grilled. Served with Bock beer, natürlich.

Currywurst: Pork sausage sliced and served with curry powder and ketchup.

Frankfurter Rindswurst: An all-beef sausage served boiled, broiled or grilled.

Nürnberger Rostbratwurst: Finger-size sausages traditionally soaked in milk, roasted, and served in threes. Fresh marjoram is a distinctive ingredient.

Thüringer Rostbratwurst: Made of a finely minced pork, beef, or veal and spiced with caraway, marjoram, and garlic, cased by a pig or sheep intestine, and grilled over hot coals. They are sometimes lower in fat than other wursts.

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