Whenever I hear the word “sausage”, I think of the technique behind this ancient- modern gourmet food which requires skill set and technique to prepare and is popular across the world. Have you ever wondered how this dish evolved to its present day form and why sausages are present around every corner and in nearly every ethnic dish.
What is a sausage?
Generally speaking, sausage is recognised as any tissue, meat or organ that has been salted for preservation and stuffed into casings traditionally made from the intestine of the animal.
The daily consumption of fresh meat began to decline in the 1500’s and more land was devoted to agriculture rather than stock rearing. As fresh meat consumption declined, the salting of meat grew to supply the men of many ships and to form a part of the meagre diet of the poor. Salt meat was important for the crew members travelling through the ocean. Salt meat often took the form of sausage.
The sausage peddler became a common sight in Italian town and villages. The sausages were usually purchased from the street vendors and eaten for dinner. It is believed that the Romans were among the first to preserve meat in sausage form. They learned over time that salt, smoking methods and addition of spices improved the process and the taste and by the middle ages, sausages was being made all over the continent.
Mediterranean sausages of all kinds were famous, the farm families would make sausages of all kinds and would sell them in neighbouring markets. Muslim countries knew to salt their meat and sausage making as well. They made theirs with lamb, beef and turkey and they were an important part of the army ration.
So who was the genius who decided to stuff an animals intestine with its own meat? The meaning of the word “sausage” comes from Latin word “Salsus” which means to prepare by salting.
And as Latin language is primarily associated with the Roman empire, it is not wrong to associate its origins with the Roman empire. However, there are some other civilisations to be credited for the sausage making like the Chinese and Sumerian culture which is modern-day Iraq.
Today sausage may be found in almost every corner of the world. In some cultures/ countries like the grilling and sports focused United States, sausage is an integral part of gathering and celebration.
What started hundreds of years ago as a salting- drying- preservation technique, has turned into a popular art form and delicacy. The shape of sausage and the process of stuffing it into casings have remained virtually unchanged overtime, what is stuffed in casings is, however, changing everyday.
Today, the sausage casings are not real intestines but are man-made using collagen and cellulose. The sausages became known as “bangers” during the World War II. They have so much water in them that they explode when fried as the water turned to steam on cooking. The world record for the longest sausage made was 36 miles long and is held by J J Tranfield of Sheffield, UK.
Sausages are excellent source of proteins and they provide our body with essential amino acids necessary for grown, repair, and maintenance of body. The trend for health friendly sausage is on a rise. They contain olive oil which are 30% lower in saturated fats as compared to standard ones and come with reduced salt content.
European countries boast of thousands of varieties of sausages and have their own recipes for them. Vegetarian sausages are made with soya and nuts and are available nowadays. The fat content in the sausage keeps it moist during cooking and on average sausages cotton 20% fats. Sausage casings are generally filled with meat and then twisted at intervals to section off the big long casing tube, often into the size of an individual portion.
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