Don’t mention the sausages!

British Sausage Week

British Sausage Week - Credit: Archant

It may be barbecue season, but just don’t mention the ‘s’ word! Talking about sausages can be as emotive as talking politics - and you’ll ALWAYS be wrong!

British Sausage Week

British Sausage Week - Credit: Archant

So, it may or may not be barbecue season by the time you read this – the way our weather is currently forecast at the time of writing, summer has been pushed back until, oh, at least November… still, we live in hope.

The British summer is indeed, a metaphor for hope. We can optimistically wheel out the barbie at the first glint of sun and stoically man it through the downpours. We can dish out iced beers and glasses of Pimm’s while wrapped in puffa jackets, chasing posh crisps as the wind whips them through the air. But however wild and wet it gets, we can always find solace in that stalwart of barbecue food, the humble sausage. Yes, it may have been scorched to within an inch of its life, dowsed in ketchup and slammed into a bread roll, but sausages are special. They are the ultimate comfort food – a reminder of childhood bangers and mash, of hotdogs bought at fairgrounds, of toad in the hole on a winter’s day…

The sheer number of varieties available today shows what suckers us Brits are for sausages. There are nearly 500 different types in the UK with many regions laying claim to being the best, with their own unique recipes. You want a coarse, sage-filled sausage? Go to Lincoln. Meaty with loads of black pepper? Cumberland’s your place. Fancy a bit of veal in your snag? Try Oxford. These regional variations are all well and good and anchored in history, but what I find startling is the complete explosion of niche, locally-made bangers that has occurred over the past few years. Sausage-making seems to have become the nation’s favourite sport – if it was an Olympic category, we’d have taken gold home before the rest of the world had even cleaned their stomach casings!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love this renewed interest in sausages and it’s something that Cotswold producers do exceptionally well. Usually I’d be the first to recommend my favourite product but when it comes to sausages I’ve learnt to pipe down – talking about sausages can be as emotive as talking politics and you’ll always be wrong! For every person who likes there’s plump and juicy, lightly browned and swollen to bursting with locally-reared pork, there’s someone else who prefers an overcooked chipolata that looks like you’re gnawing your grandad’s finger. As for the best flavour – how long have you got? I bet you can find every ingredient under the sun in a sausage these days – curry, chilli, black pudding, beer, wild boar, alpaca – yes really! There are so many locally-produced varieties here in the Cotswolds that you could eat sausages every day for a year and still not have tried them all. Just head to your local butchers, farmers’ market, deli, and even a certain motorway service station, and you’ll be treated to a specialty sausage selection that rivals the number of coffee choices in a Starbucks café.

So, back to the barbecue. If you do brave it, take some brownie points and enjoy showcasing your new favourite sausage¬ (on the quiet of course). And if summer really doesn’t arrive until November, don’t worry – that’ll be just in time to get your vote in for British Sausage Week – I won’t tell if you won’t!


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