Friday, 5 April 2013

Hot sausage and mustard

Red Dwarf's Lister once mused, "Why do intelligent people buy cinema hotdogs?" No doubt he would agree with the existence of the rule that states that a hot dog stall should sell sausages as rubbery and lacking in any flavour other than that of stale oil, which should be contained in soggy white rolls and served with slightly burned onions or, worse, onions tasting as though they've been boiled for a very long time.

Is it something to do with the need for a sense of danger about the experience? Enid Blyton's Snubby is one of her more engaging child characters, certainly next to his insipid cousins Roger and Diana. He was prepared to refuse the sausage sandwiches on offer at Rilloby Fair, choosing instead "tomato sandwiches of which he was inordinately fond". A sensible child. His cousins got food poisoning.

In my first job, I recall the sausage sandwiches provided by a white faced and overweight cook; he would cut each sausage in half horizontally. They were average but not bad sausages.

I reject the thesis that bad food should emerge from a hot dog stall and that one should simply learn to appreciate it. My recent encounter in Bromley demonstrated my point. On offer at the butcher's stall, along with meat for cooking, sausages were sizzling. Three kinds of sausages - ordinary, Cumberland and pork and apple. I went for ordinary, with onions. The sausages themselves were described as organic, no guarantee but a promising sign. What further reassured me was the sight of the stall holder poking the sausages carefully with a meat thermometer. When I saw this, I said to the stall holder, "You do this properly, don't you?" He looked pleased or maybe he just felt that would be the politic response to my eccentricity. The bread rolls themselves did not look cheap and nasty. It all augured well. I added some mustard and set off, eating along the way. I was not disappointed. Sausage so hot that I had to chase it around my mouth breathing heavily. A meal to cheer.

Another memorable sausage sandwich was provided to me by a family friend. Andrew Reid took my order the night before, very carefully and methodically taking my instructions: whole grain mustard, bread rather than toast. We had to set off very early in the morning - an icy morning - from rural Buckinghamshire. Keeping me warm on that coldest part of the journey were the contents of the package handed to me by Andrew, wrapped in silver foil.

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