Most weekends we have sausage toasties for breakfast. Other times we have bangers and mash or sausage casserole. And of course, the classic full English breakfast. Sausages. They are so terribly British.
They are convenient ways to eat meat and cereals, in skins and are accommodating with their shape. Sausage shape. They can be made from pork, beef, veal, soya, Quorn or blood, padded out (in most countries) with breadcrumbs, rice, barley or rusk. They can be flavoured with tomatoes, herbs, garlic and other spices. Each country or region has its own version and is proud of it, from the German all meat dried variety, to the fat, long-linked Cumberland sausage. Above all, children think they are great.
Sausages have been around since forever - evidence suggests at least the Bronze Age. The word comes from the Latin 'salsus' meaning 'salted'. Later the French referred to the tasty little dish as ''saussiche', which is close to the name we use today in English. Sausage making and curing meats was a way for people to preserve meats before the time of refrigeration, so sausages were probably one of the best winter foods for centuries.
The first written reference to sausages appeared in a Greek play in 500 BC, which was called The Sausage. There is evidence that suggests sausages were a popular food throughout the Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires. It was associated with the festival of Lupercalia where evil spirits were chased away and the city of Rome was purified. However, it was not to last. In 320, because of their association with pagan festivals, Roman Emperor Constantinus I and the Catholic Church made sausage eating a sin and their consumption was banned. This led to sausages going underground until the ban was lifted. Rebel food indeed.
In Anglo-Saxon England it is believed that the sausage was introduced by the Romans. The poor folk relied on sausages for their meat consumption along with chicken and bacon. Other types of meat was for the nobility so most Anglo-Saxons had a vegetarian diet - except for sausages. As with everything Dark Ages, there are very few resources, although the Bayeux Tapestry does show cylindrical things being served.
There is a scene in Teon where the main character obtains some sausages from people cooking them outdoors. Make him sick. Hopefully that won't happen to me when I have my toasties in the morning. Well, they are sinful, so it's a bit of a worry.
An interesting book covering the origins of sausages and more about sausage making, is this, entitled, Sausage A Global History, by Gary Allen.