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July 15, 2009

Sausage roll-call

By Spear's

Describing the taste of food is probably as hard as describing the sounds of music. The experience of taste being diminished by the very act of attempting to put it into words

Describing the taste of food is probably as hard as describing the sounds of music. The experience of taste being diminished by the very act of attempting to put it into words. Yet some of us spend every day attempting to do just that. Having never tried to describe sound I imagine I would be even more inept as a music critic as I am a food one.

But fortunately such is the great complexity and deep richness of the English language you only need to utter a few words to get people to understand the gist of what you are saying when it comes to some types of food.

Or indeed you need only utter one word. Sausage, for example. The idea of the sausage is multi-dimensional. It brings with it ideas of warmth, of home, of satisfying flavour and of course of humour.

Sausages are funny. Some dogs are shaped liked sausages. And that’s quite funny. My mother has a sausage dog. He’s a wire-haired dachshund called Heber and he’s particularly funny when you throw him into a swimming pool.

By which I mean it’s funny watching him swim and then how small he looks when he emerges.

All of which examples prove the power of suggestion that accompanies the word sausage. 

Here are some other sausage-related thoughts and some rules too.

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Sausages should not be too big when served at breakfast and they ought really to be baked, for a good half hour.

I once ordered a sausage for breakfast at Le Manoir – Raymond Blanc’s Oxfordshire haven of excellence – and it was disappointing. It was short and fat, slightly undercooked and not remotely charred. It didn’t taste of much either.

Unlike an amazing sausage I had for breakfast last week at The Cinnamon Club. There I was treated to a spicy number called a ‘Bangra’ the recipe for which was invented in Shimla – a hill station in Northern India – by one Harnam Singh in the 1940s.

His grandson Daljit has managed to recreate it and hopes soon to sell it to supermarkets. I tried two: his original bangra – made with lamb, cardamom and other spices and another with the addition of date and apricot.

The heat moves onto your palate quite gently, although it a little strong for breakfast. I reckon it’s a great BBQ idea.
Most of the sausages I eat are delivered by a man called Mr Mumford who drives a van around Northamptonshire from which he offers his meat. Mr Mumford, as it says on his van, is ‘noted for his sausages’. I can vouch for that.

He is also noted for the bones he hands out to one’s dog. The tail on my dog, Maxton, nearly flies off his body when Mr Mumford approaches.

I shan’t now trawl the world examining every culture’s take on the sausage, save to say that Mr Mumford could defend his reputation against any mustamakkara, bratwurst, kolbász, zalzett tal-Malti, podhalańska, hamonado, embutidos, cervelat, falukorv, lap cheong, boerewors, salami or chorizo that you may wish to throw in his direction.

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