Mett is a German delicacy of raw ground pork, which is often purchased from the metzger or butcher already prepared and spiced with salt and pepper, sometimes with garlic and ground caraway. In northern Germany, it is known as hackpeter. If raw onion is added, then it is called zwiebelmett; if onion and rubbed marjoram are added, it is known as thüringer mett. The ground meat is made from muscle with no tendons, and the fat content is usually no more than 35 percent, however, it is still schmierig, the German term for "greasy."
Steak tartare, beef carpaccio, sashimi, and sushi are common raw animal proteins eaten all over the world, and mett is just one more, even if it's less known.
Raw Pork Eaten Under Strict Guidelines
Although it goes against many cultural beliefs and food safety guidelines, eating raw pork is safe when done under strict circumstances; also, Germans are less squeamish about eating raw pork than Americans, so traditionally no one thinks twice about a mouthful of spiced raw pork as they know it is prepared and served with care and under strict guidelines.
The main issue with raw pork meat is the spread of trichinosis, a disease that causes digestive and muscular disturbances and is lethal if left untreated. However, modern pork farms produce meat under the strictest procedures to be able to commercialize it, so this shouldn't be a concern with good quality 21st-century pork meat. This type of infection is now relatively rare, and the number of cases decreased beginning in the mid-20th century because of legislation prohibiting the feeding of raw-meat garbage to hogs, commercial and home freezing of pork, and the public awareness of the danger of eating raw or undercooked pork products.
Also, when making mett, the butcher must consistently keep the pork's temperature at 35 F at all times: grounding semi-frozen meat with a coarse grinder keeps large meat pieces; additionally, the meat must be sold and consumed the same day it was produced.
A popular way to eat mett is on brötchen (bread rolls or bread slices) with raw onion rings on top and an extra sprinkling of pepper. Germans also make a mettigel, a festive hedgehog-shaped party centerpiece made out of mett that became popular in the 1970s and is still around today. The meat is shaped like the body of a hedgehog with sliced white onions placed on top in rows to emulate the spikes. Two olives make the eyes, The pork is then spread on bread or rolls, like liverwurst, and each person seasons their portion to taste. The dish is kept cold at all times using a bed of ice under the serving plate.
Eating raw pork and raw beef is common in Germany, but mett also can be cooked as you'd do with any spiced, bulk sausage meat bought in the store. Mix it with other meats and bake it into meatballs, meatloaf, or sausage patties.
Making Mett in the U.S.
For Americans who attempt any raw pork recipe at home, be aware that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against the consumption of raw pork, because of the concern of trichinosis. If you do attempt to try a raw meat dish, you should check that the meat in question comes from U.S. farmers who have gone through a certification program proving that their herd and products are free of trichinella or other diseases.