Side Dish

Sausage genius

Toward the south end of the Pike Place Market, among the flying fish and yowling buskers, there's a portal to food paradise. Blink as you pass and you miss it, which is what I did till the day I needed an item I rarely cook with and asked a friend where I might buy some. "Andouille?" my friend said. "Uli's, no question." "Uli's?" "Of course." "But—isn't Uli a German name? Short for Ulrich? Andouille's not exactly a German sausage." "You have obviously never been to Uli's." Indeed, I had not. Now I can't stay away. In the showcase below the unprepossessing counter of Uli's Famous Sausage are arrayed all the wonders of the sausage world: classic bratwursts crying out for just a dab of mustard and a Br�en, andouilles that take you by the ears and deliver a New Orleans soul kiss, fennelly Italian too good to mention in the same breath with pizza, English bangers that differ from those you'd encounter in any side-street pub only in being fit to eat—in fact, glorious. Sausage gets a bad rap from most Americans, even though we're the ones who foisted the supermarket ballpark frank on the world. In Uli Lengenberg's native Germany, they take it seriously. There, you're not even to think about making sausage until you have your master butcher certificate. Not that Lengenberg's a traditionalist. After graduation from the meat academy, he spent years in Taiwan, where Uli's Deli Fillet Meats in Kehchiang Street became one of the hot culinary spots of Taipei. He still dreams of going back. But the woman he met and married there longed for her native Northwest, so a couple years ago Uli came to check out the scene here. It is vitally important, nay, imperative that he be encouraged to stay. There are a number of superior outlets for the thin round stuff in this city, but nowhere else where solid quality is so often touched by genius. Every traditional variety of sausage made by human hands requires its own special proportioning of meats and/or starches, just the right grind for perfect texture, a knowing, firm, but delicate hand with the seasonings. Among sausage makers, Uli has the hands of a Toscanini. I have seen Latina ladies with little English stocking up on his chorizos, leathery expatriate South Africans go teary at the first bite of his Boerwurst. As for his stubby, wrinkly Beer Bites, be careful—you'll never be content with Slim Jims again. Uli's Famous Sausage L.L.C., 1511 Pike Place, 839-1000, www.ulisfamoussausage. com. (N.B.: The menu and prices on the Web haven't been updated for a while—best call ahead, as not all varieties are available every day.)

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