I have a friend who was brought up a vegetarian, but who shocked his mother when, aged about 5, he burst out at the dinner table ‘I want a sausage!’. He got one, and never looked back.
Why should he? As an Irishman I knew in Rome said to me once, you can say what you like about Italian food, but you can’t get a decent banger (and his culinary repute was high, since while still in Dublin he had invented pasta and tomatoes from first principles, as an experimental combination plucked from his cupboard; it was, he said, a ‘taste explosion’).
So, sausages. Cambridge is itself near one of the epicentres of British sausage production, Newmarket. The Newmarket sausage, which dates as a concept from the end of the nineteenth century, is a moderately spicy sausage – not quite so peppery as a Cumberland, nor as sagey as a Lincolnshire) and was a couple of years ago awarded Protected Geographical Status, like Parma ham or Stilton cheese. Oddly, it was granted this recognition and protection in spite of the fact that there are three competing recipes, the best known of which are Musk’s and Powter’s (the third is Eric Tennant Butcher’s, apparently). Each has its own spice mixture. Here, then, is a man from Powter’s, explaining how his company have been doing a bit of brand-stretching.
I find it almost impossible to write about sausages – Newmarket or otherwise – without feeling the need to eat one. Their lure is strong.