I had a mind today to find out why sausages are called ‘bangers’ (in England) and ‘snags’ (in Australia). The story of ‘bangers’ turns out not to be terribly interesting, so someone needs to invent a good myth pretty soon. It is assumed that ‘banger’ relates to the noise made by a bursting sausage, and the nick-name dates to the first or second decade of the twentieth century.
As for the word ‘snag’, the first reference to it use for ‘sausage’ given by the Oxford English Dictionary is in 1941, which seems very recent to me. There appear to be no theories for this usage of the word, so I have been forced to invent some myself this very day.
The word ‘snag’ can also mean:
- ‘a short protuberance or knob’, usually one left after pruning (perhaps indicating the shape of a sausage?),
- an underwater tree branch or similar, which acts as a hazard to fishermen and sailors (perhaps suggesting the rather risky, hidden contents of the sausage)
- an obstacle or impediment (to good nutrition?)
- the common snail, in the old Sussex dialect, a slug in the West Kent dialect, and a snake in other dialects. I strongly suspect this has no connection to sausages, but place it here to excite your suggestions.
- ‘A Sensitive New Age Guy’. Perhaps SNAGS eschew snags?
- and, apparently, according to one not-very-reliable-looking source, it can also be a dialect word for 'a morsel, a light meal' (the source does not specify which dialect). Which might possibly be relevant, if you believe that sausages constitute a ‘light’ meal.
The lack of conclusions did not prevent me from rediscovering ‘the sausage roll’, which has certainly not featured in this blog before. Sausage rolls are almost as important to the nutrition status of the Average Australian as are meat pies, so they are deserving of some comment.
The sausage roll seems to have come onto the world scene around about the time of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London’s Crystal Palace (in 1851). I am sure that sausage rolls existed before that date - although I have found very little to support that opinion - but it is certain that a total of 28, 046 were consumed by visitors to the exhibition during the five and a half months of its life. If I had ninety-nine lives I could possibly remove a number of things from my ‘to research more fully list’, but my definitive history of the sausage roll ends right here. Over to one of you to complete it, if you will.
The recipe for today is, of course, for sausage rolls, and it comes from one of my favourite Victorian era cookbooks - Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery, published in the 1870’s.
Take half a sausage cut lengthwise for each roll. Enclose the half in pastry six inches square and an eighth of an inch thick. Pinch the edges securely, and then bake the roll on a baking sheet in a well-heated oven. They may be served hot or cold. Or take equal weights of cold dressed chicken and tongue, or cold roast veal and ham. Mince the meat finely, and season well with salt, cayenne, and powdered sweet herbs. The latter may be omitted if liked. Press the mince together, and enclose it in puff paste, or good pastry that is large enough to contain it. Bake in a well-heated oven. These rolls are especially adapted for pic-nic parties. Time to bake, half an hour for fresh meat, fifteen minutes for cooked meat.
Quotation for the Day.
A highbrow is the kind of person who looks at a sausage and thinks of Picasso.
Sir A.P. Herbert