You know that the New Zealand summer is here with the familiar smell, and sizzle, of sausages on a barbecue outdoors. And, in many New Zealand workplaces, the traditional morning tea highlight is the classic sausage roll.
So we were inspired to look more closely into the humble sausage, one of the oldest forms of processed food. And we have another angle for dishing up this classic meat staple.
So what goes into a sausage?
Sausages come into some bad press at times, cast into doubt by virtue of their uncertain ingredients. They are often denounced as high in fat, poor quality meat, and riddled with fillers and non-meat substances.
In our experience, none of that criticism can be levelled at true artisan sausages, made with beautiful ground meat and the addition of exquisite herbs and other real produce, in a natural casing. A lot can be said about sausage making too, as a testament to efficient butchery, and nose-to-tail eating.
A clear signpost of provenance
We were reminded, in our reading, how the sausage varieties are very specific to countries and regions all around the world. Just ponder that for a minute. When you think Germany, you might think frankfurter. You think Spain, and so chorizo. Morocco - it’s mergeuz right? Italy, well salami, obviously. Then there’s the French saucisson, and the British cumberland.
The origins of the sausage “invention” are not entirely clear. But it is clear that sausages have been around for a very long time, some of the basic practices as old as civilisation itself. Through the world, sausage making has adapted to fit with regional climates and culture. So, for example, it is no surprise that fresh sausages stem from cooler northern European climes, and dried sausages from hotter middle Eastern areas, where they needed to preserve meats.
One of the things we really enjoy is that sausages are a simple and clear marker to the regional specialities. The meats used, and their flavouring or spicing ingredients, really tell a tale of provenance that can be easily overlooked.
New Zealand is perhaps yet to definitively establish its own national sausage identity. (In our research we found reference to the sausage roll as New Zealand’s sausage, oh dear!) Nonetheless, our charcuterie artisans create some of the world’s best varieties with home-grown local ingredients. Some of our favourites are L’Authentique and Salumeria Fontana. And let’s not forget our local butchers - who can turn out some of the most interesting and tasty combinations.
Sizzlers, bangers, snarlers and snags
There are so many names…
The word “sausage” derived from the Latin word “salsus”, meaning salted. Obviously this harks back to the centuries old food preservation techniques used to create dried meats.
It’s not too hard to make sense of “sizzlers”. “Bangers” refers back to British sausages made during the war, in times of meat shortages. The higher water content inside the casing made them somewhat liable to explode upon cooking, and so the “banger”. As for snarlers and snags - frankly, we have no idea, but the names seem to have stuck.
And hot dogs?
The hot dog - for a long sausage nestled in a bun - seems classically American. But at least one possibility is from the original use of an imported German sausage known as a “dachshund”. Once you know this, it is not difficult to see the dachshund characteristics!
And for a bit of a twist on the sausage in a bun with tomato sauce, click here to try out our sausage, bread and tomato salad idea (hot dog salad!).