With sausages in the news thanks to Brexit and Northern Ireland, just what's behind our fondness for the humble banger?
Sausages have been in the news in recent weeks, especially over a mooted Brexit sausage war between the EU and UK. But it's not just Boris Johnson who's a fan of the sausage and many of us relish one in a fry or, at this time of year, on the barbecue. UCC food historian Regina Sexton joined Philip Boucher-Hayes on the Brendan O'Connor Show on RTÉ Radio 1 to talk about our love affair with the humble banger. (This piece includes excerpts from the conversation which have been lightly edited for length and clarity - full discussion can be heard above).
Sexon began by talking about the infamous photo of the British prime minister and a string of sausages. "There is one image circulating in the media which I find particularly effective and that's Boris holding a link of sausages. I think that's a very clever way of communicating what is a much more complex issue because the sausage is so everyday, commonplace, pedestrian if you like.
"We all know what a sausage is. Many of us know what a sausage tastes like and many of us actually really like sausages. To have something that we have this relationship with and can identify with being mooted as the possible sausage war kind of draws us in. It brings us into an area of complexity that we mightn't really want to go to but it's the fact that it's the sausage that's bringing us here."
When it comes down to it, is there much of a difference between the Irish and British sausage? "Britain has a very interesting history of regional sausages that we mightn't have in Ireland", says Sexton. "They tend to be meaty sausages, chunky sausages, like Cumberlands and so on. A lot of the British sausages are beef sausages, which is something that we don't really go in for in Ireland because ours are mostly pork.
"People who eat sausages love sausages. The thing about sausages is that they have a great ability to satisfy us because they're not just meat. They have a fat content which is going to combine with the meat to give you that meaty mouthfeel and also the burst of flavor that comes from fat. What goes into your sausage is really important, in terms of ingredients."