An American perspective on the sausage phenomenon]
We are not limited to beer brats, breakfast links, or frozen bulk sausage anymore. Walk into any sit-down Mexican restaurant; chances are they have Chorizo sausage on the menu. Italian sausage has been used on pizza and in baked pasta dishes for years. There are several types of Polish/Kielbasa sausages available from my grocery store. Go to a butcher’s shop and they have at least two to six different kinds of sausages in their meat case.
What is driving this sausage mania/growth?
I count at least four different influences all working together to build not only the quantity of sausages available for our consumption, but the quality also.
The first thing driving the new availability of different kinds of sausages is the internationalization of our country. As immigrants enter the country they are also bringing along their favorite foods. One of these foods is sausage. We didn’t see much Chorizo until the 1990’s came along with the massive Mexican and Hispanic immigration. We rarely saw much in Andouille sausages outside Cajun country in Louisiana until the upsurge in trendy ethnic restaurants in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Except in large metropolitan areas or college towns with large foreign-born student population ethnic restaurants were pretty much limited to Tex-Mex and Asian/Chinese restaurants with the occasional Greek place thrown in.
With the explosion of immigrants, we’ve also had an explosion in ethnic restaurants exposing hundreds of thousands if not millions of people to the delights of ethnic foods. We see a corresponding growth in ethnic cookbooks for the masses. With all this growth and experimentation with different cuisines we find that sausages of one sort or another (salamis, fresh, smoked, preserved) exist in all these cuisines. As Americans become more used to seeing these tasty ethnic treats, they invariably try them only to discover they are good!
The second thing driving the new craze for all things sausage is the Internet. As more and more people obtain access and learn to navigate the Internet – they are discovering tasty treats. International stores abound which will ship sausages straight from their country/store to you, allowing the growing number of epicureans to try a variety of sausages. The Internet serves two purposes in promoting this expansion of our tastebuds; it makes it easier for us to find out about the different sausages and to research the ingredients and recipe amounts for each kind of sausage. It also makes it more affordable for many of us to order different sausages if they are not yet available in our city or town and try them.
What I see as the third reason for the rise in sausage stature is the growing membership of the re-enactment groups: Society of Creative Anachronism (600AD – 1600AD), French and Indian War (1754-1763), American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), The War of 1812 (1812-1815), American Civil War (1861-1865), Spanish American War (1898), and still many others. Each of these groups has individuals in it dedicated to researching and recreating all the foods that would have been eaten by the people they are trying to emulate. This means that many sausages recipes are being “rediscovered”. From different online articles published by the re enactors we discover that they had sausages going back to the roman times that still carry the same name and basic ingredient mix forward to today. An example would be Lucian Sausages. In one of the English translations of Apicius the ingredients are given which are similar to today’s Italian sausages known variously as ‘lucanica’ or ‘lucanega’ The cooks who reconstruct these recipes from the original cookbooks, personal letters, and household instructions share their recipes not only with each other but across reenactment groups, with co-workers, friends, and family.
The final reason for the rise in sausage eating is the low-carb fad diets making the rounds. Sausage has very few carbs – it is meat and fat, and with the exception of a few recipes – no sugar or other carb-filled fillers are added; just the meat, fat, and flavor. And let’s not discount those who want fresh foods with no additives or preservatives but don’t want to go to a vegan existence. There is nothing better than fresh homemade sausage without preservatives.
Reasons two and three work together to fuel the interest in sausages, and the smoke your own meats kitchen and cooking gadgets growth. You can find good smoking boxes for around $100. With these boxes it’s now possible cool-or-hot-smoke flavor your homemade sausage. There is nothing tastier than taking a sausage you made from scratch and bite into it hot off the grill. The aroma, flavor and juices all combine to make your mouth feel like it has gone to heaven.
Kateryn de Develyn