I’m back again, after an unacceptable large period of silence, again. It’s the same old story here right now; shorthand is hard and painful, I’ve mastered the art of falling asleep within 2 minutes of sitting down (or standing) on the train to work, I spent my snow days manning my emails and writing out shorthand passages about ‘Oxdown County Council’s plans to build a new community centre’. It’s all riveting stuff.
But today I am breaking my involuntary silence (involuntary in the sense that work is long and I am lazy) to explore a question that’s been playing on my mind. It’s a question that I’m sure everyone has pondered over at some point in their life, maybe even ventured to provide a definitive answer themselves, before gauging the enormity of the question being asked and consigning it to the list of life’s big unanswerable questions. Debated, I’m sure, by Greek philosophers and philistines alike; discussed over breakfast, in the car, at the checkout, in the pub, or in the case of me and mum, on the sofa whilst watching TV and eating choc-ices last night.
How many types of sausage are there, and does every country in the world have their own variation?
Now, I am not going to attempt to answer the first question. There are, according to lovepork.co.uk (that’s right, I’m taking my research seriously) enough types of sausage in the UK alone to eat a new breed of sausage every day for the next 10 years – a claim I’m sure my old flat have probably achieved between them. There are infinite sausages, this much we know.
But does every country have their own version of cylindrical meat in an intestinal casing? There are 196 countries in the world, and even with a year of training via Sporcle, I can name a maximum of 140. I am not going to name every country’s national sausage. Instead, I asked Boy to name 10 random countries in the world and vowed to prove that whatever country he threw at me, I would find their national sausage. So without further or do, I give you Boy’s countries, and their corresponding sausage.
- Australia; the Devon sausage. Now, the first point of contention with this experiment. Does a ‘sausage’ constitute a cylindrical-shaped meat product, or a ground meat (normally but not restricted to pork) shape? Devon sausages are indeed called ‘sausages’ in Australia and New Zealand, but look distinctively more like a pork meat burger. But who am I to set the rules? They call it a sausage, I call it a sausage. Black pudding, Yorkshire pudding and sticky toffee pudding don’t exactly fall into the same description, do they?
- China; Like the UK, you could probably feed on a different Chinese sausage every day up until the global population outgrows the sausage population and we’re forced to make sausages out of people (there’s a film idea in there; like a dystopian version of Sausage Party). China has as diverse a repertoire of sausage as we do; from spicy, dried lap cheong sausages, to yun chang sausages made with duck liver, to the Chinese version of black pudding, xue chang. And of course, they have a sausage made entirely of rice. The rice sausage; probably the blandest sausage in existence.
- Sweden; falukorv. Basically a big, fat Scandi sausage. Made with pork, beef and sometimes horse, it looks like those fat (very fat), angry red sausages you can buy in the section of the supermarket filled with obscure foreign meats. I’m slightly repelled, but also intrigued.
- Chile; longanizas de Chillán. Kind of like a Chilean variation of chorizo, this sausage is flavoured with paprika, oregano and vinegar, before being dried, smoked and served with mash. The definition I’m reading describes the filling as ‘pig meat pulp’ which is what I’m going to call pork mince from now on. Much catchier.
- Mexico; Mexican chorizo. As you would expect, Mexican sausage is basically chorizo. Apparently there is a difference, but that difference is simply that Mexican chorizo is sold raw and needs to be cooked, whilst Spanish chorizo is cured. So, Mexican chorizo is Spanish chorizo for the sausage maker that can’t be arsed to dry it.
- Mongolia; they don’t seem to have a name, but I’m going to call them offalausage. Not for the faint-hearted, Mongolian sausages are normally made of camel, goat, sheep, horse, yak and offal. To be honest, probably not worlds away from a Walls sausage, with their disconcerting bubblegum pink hue (do they still exist?).
- Thailand; sai tua. As you would expect with a Thai sausage, it’s a sausage, flavoured like a Thai curry. Lime leaves, red Thai curry paste, galangal and numeric flavour the sausage before it’s grilled and served with some chilli and mint. Definitely the best sounding sausage so far, which pleases me as we’re going here in Summer (will now bring an extra large bag in preparation for smuggling Thai sausage back into the country).
- South Africa; Boerewors. Probably the most famous and widely available sausage on this sausage list (and fun because it looks like a Cumberland whirl), boerewors consists of beef and pork mince flavoured with nutmeg, cloves, coriander, all spice and black pepper, which is cooked over the braai. I’m aware of how much of a bore I’m beginning to sound, but do persist, there’s a good non-sausage related recipe at the bottom.
- Niger; merguez. A bit of a cop out because merguez is actually from Algeria and is made all over North Africa, but a) Niger make it too and b) we’re on sausage no.9 and you’re probably bored by now so accept my sausage homogenisation and read on.
- Iceland; slátur. It literally means ‘slaughter’. Need I say more?
So there we go. 10 random countries. 10 sausages of varying culinary appeal. I think the largest philosophical question related to processed-meat-based, largely-but-not-always-cylindrical-shaped products has been answered.
And now I want to share a recipe for something completely unrelated, because after hearing sausage meat described as ‘pig meat pulp’ I’m not sure you’ll want to eat sausages for dinner tonight. Instead, here’s a recipe/rough guide for tuna steak with sun-dried tomato tapenade.
Tuna Steak with Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade, Mini Roasties and Greens (makes enough tapenade for a few dinners, so alter other ingredients like tuna steak depending on how many you are serving)
1 fat tuna steak
1 tub of pitted black olives (not marinated, just plain ones)
1 tub of sun-dried tomatoes (the tubs you find in the deli section, don’t get jarred ones. I like the ‘sun-drenched’ ones they sell at Sainsbury’s)
A few anchovies (get a little jar so you can keep the leftovers in the fridge)
1 small handful of fresh basil
1 garlic clove, crushed
Small potatoes such as Charlotte or baby (as many as you want)
Greens (broccoli, green beans, asparagus – any you fancy), to serve
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180C. Start by tossing your potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper, and shoving in the oven to roast.
- While roasting, making your tapenade. Put half the tub of olives, all the sun-dried tomatoes, a bit of the tomato oil, 2-3 anchovies, garlic, basil, and salt and pepper into a blender and blend until at the desired consistency – I like mine a little bit chunky. Adjust the flavours to your liking – you may like a few more olives in there.
- When your potatoes are pretty much roasted (after maybe 40 minutes), put your greens on to steam or boil and put a frying pan on high heat with a dribble of oil. Pat your tuna dry with kitchen towel and season with olive oil, salt and pepper, before putting in the frying pan to sear. Cook to your liking – I like it relatively rare so I’ll only cook it for a 4-5 minutes on one side and 1-2 on the other.
- Serve the potatoes, greens and tuna with a big dollop of tapenade on top.