A wonderful thing to behold. Hanging in the window for all to see; a bumper meat feast for the village of Eynsford . Queues snake down the High Street to the War Memorial.
Norman’s sausage is famous on high days and holidays in the village of Eynsford. Norman, a generous man, provides the sausages for the annual fete barbecue, and at the end of the day, there’s not a pork sausage to be found in the village. Gone. Devoured. Happy fete-goers trundle home with traces of mustard on their lips and an abiding memory of Norman’s finest.
I was brought up on Norman’s sausages. We’d have bangers and mash once a week, with baked beans in the winter and runner beans in the summer. Dad would draw yellow lines down the side of his plate with Coleman’s mustard and I’d drown mine in pepper. A family feast, enjoyed by the four of us, week in, week out.
I have to say that I could go without Norman’s liver served with onions (in fact, Rags-the-dog ate most of my share of Norman’s liver), but the sausages, well, they became a thing of legend for me.
Give me a sausage and I can create a dish. Last week I made spring sausage hotpot (the leeks being the ’spring’ element). The week before I served up sausages on a bed of leek and apple. Both dishes were a triumph in their own special sausage way.
However, give me anything non-sausage related to cook and I’ll burn it, cremate it, undercook it or just plain ruin it.
The other week a photographer friend of mine was due for lunch. Half an hour before he was due to arrive I had a slight panic; there wasn’t much to eat in the house. Just a frozen pizza and a limp lettuce.
Another friend suggested I open a jar of olives and throw them and some capers across the pizza, thereby transforming it into an Italian delicacy (how posh is he?). However, upon inspection, my cupboards were barer than I first thought. No olives, and definitely no capers. However, a quick root around in the freezer revealed a bag of cocktail sausages, bought and forgotten for Nippers first birthday in March. Spurred on by the presence of sausages (all-be-it-the–non-Norman-variety) my creative juices began to flow.
‘Who needs olives, when you have sausage?’ I mused aloud
Cocktail sausage isn’t that far removed from pepperoni, right?
I popped the pizza and cocktail sausages in the oven and let my Outbox distract me for 20 minutes.
After the ‘allotted’ cooking time given on the back of the packet, my cocktail sausages still looked anaemic and more surprisingly, the ten minute pizza was looking a little floppy, so as the doorbell chimed my friend's arrival, I decided to whack up the oven.
After a couple of drinks I decided to serve dinner. My friend was surprised by the cocktail sausages. He said he hadn’t had them in a long time, and hadn’t had them as a starter before (they proved too greasy to add to the top of the pizza in the end).
‘What do you think of the pizza? I asked
‘It’s fine – I like my pizza’s crispy’ he replied
‘It’s better than half frozen – that was the other possible outcome of lunch’ laughed N.
‘What can you cook then?’ asked my friend smiling broadly.
Before I could answer, N interjected; ‘Well, she can cook you paddy-field-rice, pasta that’s been boiled to death and turned to mush and she can burn just about anything she turns her hand to’.
‘That’s a little unfair’ I retorted; ‘ I can cook a good sausage’.
‘True. She is good at cooking sausage recipes – as long as they’re from Norman’s and not out of a packet! ’
‘What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever cooked?’ my friend asked, clearly enjoying my culinary grilling.
‘I experiment once in a while and sometime it works....’
‘More often than not it doesn’t!’ laughed N ‘Remember Pancetta and Tuna Pasta????’
‘Pancetta and tuna?’ my friend grimaced.
‘Let me explain.....I thought the pancetta looked a little sad on its own with the red onions so I decided to open a tin of tuna and throw it in....’
‘The resultant tuna and pancetta pasta was probably the first time anyone had decided to combine pork and fish.’ Laughed N.
After my friend left, I asked N why he thought I was such a bad cook. he gave the matter some thought then replied
‘Firstly; you suffer from attention deficit disorder when it comes to cooking; there is always something more interesting going on somewhere else; on the laptop; on the stereo; radio;tv; anywhere but on the hob; and secondly, and perhaps more fatally, you never follow a recipe.’
I have resolved to make an extra effort this month. May will be the month I learn to pay attention to the hob. May will also be the month when I follow the recipe book to the letter.
I have a secret weapon to aid me; Norman’s finest and a book entitled 101 things to do with sausage.