Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More on Sausages

Bangers and mash- I'll have me some of that

While no great gastronome, I do know what I like when it comes to grub. I don't care what food looks like as long as it tastes great. I would rather eat the same thing three times a week if it comes from nearby than scoff seven distinct meals that require ingredients to travel across time zones (I used to sell local Maine bottled water in my fancy foods retail phase by asking the customer if they wanted the local brand or a bottle that had sailed 3,500 miles from France in the oily, dirty hull of a freighter. If they still doubted, I offered to decant the local water into a sterilized Evian bottle so that they could still try to look cool. And don't get me started on the great scams that are Dasani and Aquafina). My body is supposed to consume roast potatoes and hubbard squash when it is dark by 6pm; salads and sweetcorn when baseball is still in regular season play. Organic, good; local, better; organic and local, best.

Such are my personal rules.

In the anglo-saxon world however, food security, low cost to retailer, and shelf life seem to have trumped all other considerations for a good long while. Thankfully, there is a small but significant movement on both sides of the Atlantic seeking to return good food to its proper place in society- not just as a luxury for the well-off or the foodie but rather as a normal, unremarkable part of everyday life. Exhibit A: a BBC web report to warm the cockles of Chipolata Dave's heart. And any thing I can do to induce a feeling of well being in my brother's brother-in-law I consider a service to family cohesion. To the story:

The Politics of Sausages
Just as the Italians and French embrace local dishes as part of their cultural identity, so too is that most British of foods, the sausage, enjoying a renaissance in the UK.

Just five years ago, with the traditional cooked breakfast in decline, it looked as if Britons were falling out of love with the banger. Today, the sizzle is back, with consumption up 17%. Forecasters say the nation will eat 189,000 tonnes this year, the equivalent of 140 sausages each.

As a quintessential British dish, the sausage has benefited from the increasing interest in Britishness, along with crumbles and other nursery favourites. Whereas once British cuisine suffered from cultural cringe, today it is embraced by celebrity chefs and the public alike.

"It's OK to stand up now and be British, and that has helped the interest in British food," says Kevin Finch, the owner of the Sausage and Mash cafe chain. "People are looking again at the way we used to eat before there were decent restaurants to go to. Not only is it OK to be British, it is OK to be working class - our mockney, celebrity culture is attracted to the motifs of working class life. It's now cool to go to caffs, to eat sausages and shepherd's pie."

This new-found enthisiasm for British food has sparked interest in regional specialities, which in many areas includes sausages. Among the food and drink trails promoted by Visit Britain, among the most popular are the sausage trails. Butchers and artisan producers use quality meats, often from local herds or wild game caught in the area. Order sausages in Gloucestershire, for instance, and the meat will probably have come from Gloucester Old Spot pigs. Even vegetarians are better catered for, with varieties such as Caerphilly cheese and leek now available.

Alexia Robinson, the organiser of British Food Fortnight, say the British feel about sausages the way the French feel about cheese. And as consumers become more concerned about where their food comes from, the sausage is one of the best-possible advertisements for quality produce.

"If I had to choose one product to really make someone think about the food they buy, it would be the sausage," says Ms Robinson. "I would say have a bite of this bland, mass-produced sausage and compare it with one from a local butcher, who has used quality meat and which sums up the flavour and character of the region. I rest my case."

Meanwhile, Chipolata Dave over at Sausage Links has this suggestion for sausage of the week


Mondale said...

Sausages are a vital part of English life. That's it, thats all there is to it. I remeber one of the joys of our last English vacation was getting up in the morning and walking to the local butchers for fresh sausages for breakfast.
They are still my favourite way to eat meat.

weasel said...

16 words in. Not bad.

Sausages and pies- its a tie at this end. I wish American stoves had a British style grill rig; anyone got any hints?

Mondale said...

Now you're talking! When I was at Uni they taught us how to make our own sausages.

country mouse said...

Weasel makes the ugliest food. He also enjoys using every single spice in the cupboard, making for some very complicated tastes. I cannot join in the sausage fun (not meant to sound dirty) for sausage doesn't fall into my strict diet of cheese pizza.

weasel said...

As long as it can all be cooked together in one pot or pan, I'm there with all my spices.

CM, you and I collaborate on some outstanding grub- the one exception being the time I let you talk me into eggroll and duck sauce soup.

country mouse said...

I'm sure Nigella has had her kitchen misteps too!

Mondale said...

Can't you two talk at home?

weasel said...

And your point is, Tommy Cooper?

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with a George Foreman grill? Or are "grill rigs" different?

weasel said...

Good point; nothing wrong with a GF grill, good suggestion. However, nothing beats an overhead heat source and a little tray attached to the stove spitting fat at eye level while you stir the gravy.

RPS said...

Check out The Ride to Sausage Mountain. For true sausage fans, it's the trip of a lifetime.