Comfort, versatility, indulgence, all encased in a single grand item. Really, I can only be describing one thing: sausages. From the luxurious duck sausages of a Michelin-starred restaurant to the humble hot dog, sausages have a versitility (and portability) that many other foods just cannot match. They have fed both peasants and kings, they have travelled with sailors to all the corners of the globe, and they can integrate new foods and flavours with ease.
A food this important is bound to have a fascinating history, and we will explore that history by looking at some most popular sausages from six countries. We shall start in the home of NH Hoteles – Spain – with one of the most popular Spanish sausages, chorizo.
What chorizo is
Chorizo is made of pork mixed with loads of different spices, the most important of which is paprika. Generally classed as either spicy or sweet, chorizo can be thinly sliced and eaten as tapas, fried, put into soups or stews or simmered in apple cider or a similar strong alcohol. Given this amazing versatility, it’s no surprise that about 65,000 tonnes of the stuff are made in Spain every year, making up about 40% of Spain’s entire sausage production. Spanish chorizo output weighs more than 10,800 adult male African elephants or more than 406 Boeing 747s.
Origins of chorizo
Generally speaking, the orgins of tradtional sausages can be hard to trace, largely because humans have been preserving meat for so long that the origin stories have been lost. But in the aftermath of the Black Plague, sausages started increasing in popularity throughout Europe. Because the population was growing again, people turned to agriculture to produce the majority of food. As a result, they needed something that would last longer and stretch farther than fresh meat , which is when sausage really stepped up to the plate. Ahem. As Europeans began to travel the world and come across new cultures, they adapted their sausages to include the new foods and flavours they were introduced to.
Chorizo itself probably originated from the xoriço in Catalonia (where there are 17 officially recognised varieties of chorizo). Its distinctive flavour and colour is caused by the addition of copious amounts of paprika, which in turn is made from peppers, sometimes called capsicum or bell peppers. These peppers are indigenous to Central and South America, so clearly modern chorizo was developed after Europeans found the New World.
The chorizo festival
Chorizo is such a popular example of Spanish cuisine, it’s only natural that it would have its own festival. Despite chorizo’s likely place of origin, the small town of Vila de Cruces in Galicia, Spain, actually hosts the most famous chorizo festival. Known as the Exaltation of the Sausage, the festival is held every February. Chorizo makers bring their wares, and festival goers can have their fill of free sausage, then buy plenty to take back home. Provided, of course they hadn’t eaten themselves into a food coma.
For more sausage-y goodness, check out our other post – Part Two: Bratwurst
Sausage race! – Thanks to SSShupe
The Chorizo, one of Klement’s Racing Sausages – Thanks to jodieandlarry
Chorizo – heavier than elephants and airplanes – Thanks to Leonie for designing the graph
Chorizo tapas – Thanks to Ewan-M
Piles and piles of chorizo – Thanks to steeljam
I can has chorizo? – Thanks to Ibán and Mackerel the cat