Many Italian families, those in Italy and abroad have this tradition of making sausages at home, something that goes very far back to times when pig meat was the main ingredient that Italians relied on around Christmas.
In times past, small family farms used to raise pigs for meat and Christmas time was when pigs were butchered, and every cut of pork was used to make a variety of products to be enjoyed throughout the holiday season.
Sausage and salami were two of the delicacies prepared from scratch in many Italian homes, today still Italians producing their own sausages, except meat is many times bought from grocery stores or pig farms around the country rather than being produced at home.
Sausage making in Italy goes beyond the simple act of making sausages and is more of a family event when members come together to help out and keep the heritage going. Everyone goes home with fresh delicious products and a sense of having contributed to the family history.
But what about sausage making everywhere else? While Italian sausages are some of the most popular in the world, sausages are actually made everywhere and are as old as, or perhaps older than Homer’s Odyssey.
Sausages – the oldest form of processed food
Thought to have been written some 10,000 years ago, The Odyssey mentions goat sausages made “with fat and blood” by “a man besides a great fire (who) is very eager to get it quickly roasted…”
He describes the sausage as a favorite food in ancient Greece, and the Romans too had their own sausage that they made with fresh pork meat, pine nuts, pepper, bay leaves, herbs and cumin seed.
Historians believe that sausages are the oldest form of processed food and interesting enough, the early Church prohibited it, as members believed it was a wicked ingredient.
Sausages today – as many types as there are countries
Although sausages are often times associated with Italy and Italy alone, people throughout the world and across the US make sausages at home or for business purposes in family-owned delicatessens.
Sausages can be made from many different meats, including fish and seafood in the Middle East. In Turkey, people add grapes to sausages and during the Renaissance, sausages were made with donkey meat or horse meat.
In our time, they’re made frequently with beef or pork and a variety of spices, such as salt & pepper, nutmeg, garlic, cloves, chili peppers, onions, cinnamon, even broccoli when chicken meat is used, potato, fennel, rice and parsley, depending on where in the world it is made.
The great thing about sausages is they can be made for breakfast, casseroles, and barbecues, eaten with soups and as snacks.
Various stores and butcher shops sell bulk sausage meat that people turn into recipes. When shopping for sausages, the varieties free from artificial colorings, preservatives and other fillings are the best choice.