I was somewhat bowled over when I read that Welshman Liam Bennett had been hard at work developing a dausage. His dausage is a cross between a sausage and a doughnut and is described as a succulent, high quality meat with a jam filling; a delicious treat for the whole family. I spent time pondering this oddity of fusion cuisine wondering why Liam would embark on a dausage crusade. Was he inspired by the cronut and cruffin. At the moment he doesn’t have a dausage making machine so he makes every dausage by hand. His dausages have included; pork with strawberry jam, pork and beef with custard, venison with strawberry custard, pork with leek and blackcurrant jam, and Cumberland with raspberry jam.
What Liam failed to understand is that you don’t mess with the sausage.
I was extremely fussy as a young boy with the food I ate. The only meat I would eat was lamb chops or sausages. The only vegetables I would eat were boiled peas and mashed potatoes. Over the years my palate transformed itself and became a merchandiser of tastes and flavors; caused by the foods of global travel and inadequate amounts of money. Sausages were the only constant during the morphing of my palate. I have an intimate affection for sausages and I’m not talking the worldly; Italian, Bratwurst, Kielbasa, Chorizo, Bologna, or Blood Sausage, but the Australian Sausage; the snag, the banger, the mystery bag.
My mum shopped for her meat at three different butcher shops; two in Newport and one in Williamstown. Each butcher was used for different cuts of meats, ground meats, sausages, or sundries such as tripe, tongue, rabbit, or chicken. The floors of the shops were speckled with sawdust and the windows displayed each cut and the variety of meats in metal trays; partially visible through the paintings on the window announcing the day’s specials. Friday was her main shopping day and she and nanna would push the shopping cart first to Newport and then Williamstown. It was more than a shopping cart: my granddad had built a huge box and fastened it onto a set of pram springs and wheels, and he added the pram handles onto one of the ends for pushing. The cart also had a large coffin-like lid. When nanna and mum went shopping it seemed like they were pushing a medium-size coffin looking for a hearse. After a few years of pushing the coffin, they downsized to a shopping jeep.
Sausages were the butcher’s way of efficiently recycling leftover meat, organs and blood; they minced and mixed their own unique blends with salts and spices and then stuffed their creations into an intestine casing. Back then there weren’t sausage police invading the butcher shops to test their sausages for sulphites, fats, fillers, additives and mystery meats. Today the traditional Australian sausage is still meat, fat, fillers or binders, and additives for flavouring and colouring, all sealed in a natural casing made from intestines.
You don’t mess with the sausage.
Paul Hogan made I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you a world-famous cultural cliche; in reality, Australians never use the word shrimp because the small crustacean is only known as a prawn. It would have been more accurate to say throw another banger on the barbie because a genuine down under barbie is always made up of a forty-eight pack of thin sausages from Big W, Coles, or the local butcher, thrown on the barbie for ten minutes of sizzling; they should be crisp on the outside and spongy and juicy inside. The ultimate is to wrap the banger in a thin slice of white bread and smother the lot with either tomato sauce or barbecue sauce. If you get a squirt of fat on you when you bite into it you have the perfect sausage sandwich or banger sanger. If the banger sangers are prepped and sold at a charity fundraising, election day polling booth, church social, or a community group event then you have the beloved sausage sizzle. The sizzle is so popular that city councils now require a permit to be obtained before the sausage sizzle can sizzle; health regulations must be followed, and a statement of trade lodged. The outside of a Bunnings Wharehouse is a time-honoured location for a sausage sizzle. Bunnings is an Australian box hardware chain store equivalent to Lowes.
Several years ago we watched the sunset on Uluru; once known as Ayers Rock. Uluru is the huge monolith in Australia’s red centre. It is about 450 kilometres, or a six-hour drive, from Alice Springs. Our coach left Alice in the early morning and after spending the afternoon in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and then travelling to and walking the base of Uluru we arrived at the sunset viewing area. As soon as the coach stopped and as we were decoaching the two drivers were inside the underneath luggage compartment unloading two barbies and a collection of assorted coolers. The barbies were fired up and at least a hundred thin sausages thrown on for ten minutes of sizzling. When the snags were crisp on the outside and spongy and juicy inside they were wrapped in a slice of Home Pride white bread and then everything smothered with tomato sauce, and the sausage fat squirted just as it should. I may have had three banger sangers as the sunset on Uluru: And the rock changed colour with each sanger bite.
You don’t mess with the sausage.
You can mess with the sausage however to make a sausage roll. A sausage roll is made by wrapping sausage mincemeat in a few sheets of puff pastry to form tubes and then baking the tubes. The sausage meat is squeezed from sausages or bought as a mince from the butcher. You can buy sausage rolls at any takeaway, milk bar, bakery, or quick store. They are eaten handheld, hot or cold, smothered in tomato sauce. Sausage rolls are the second cousin to the meat pie; both are the unofficial food of the Australian Rules football stadium, the birthday party and the cross country Australian road trip; they are the quintessential Australian national street food. My mum made a great homemade sausage roll.
I have searched relentlessly for the taste of the true banger. I have thrown on the barbie; private label sausages, organic sausages, gourmet and artisan sausages that have included pork and apple honey, chicken with roasted red capsicum, basil and garlic, chicken and artichoke with kalamata olives, and turkey, broccoli and provolone cheese but have yet to savour the banger sensation. Maybe it is the lost taste that joins the tastes of; hamburger with the lot, Chiko roll, potato cakes, pavlova, dim sims, and the four n twenty meat pie.
One of my insecurities was my looks. I was short, cute and chubby, and dad used to call me his little fat sausage. But I always knew I had musical talent. Suzi Quatro