Bread and Sausages by Angela Caldin
New Zealand has presented me with various wonderful new experiences that I’ve marvelled at since living here for part of each year: Anzac biscuits, chocolate fish, flat white coffee, the haka, the powhiri and many others besides. But there is one Kiwi speciality which is a source of much interest and amazement to immigrants like me and that is the institution of the Sausage Sizzle.
Sizzle and squirt
With a name containing both alliteration and onomatopoeia, Sausage Sizzle implies excitement and gastronomic delight in equal measure. The reality, however, is somewhat different. A Sausage Sizzle is a vehicle for fundraising and is to be found outside large stores at the weekend, in schools once a week instead of packed lunch, and at all sorts of community and charity events. In order to maximise the funds raised, costs must be kept to a minimum, so the sausage which has been sizzled on the barbecue is presented to each beneficiary in a slice of white bread with a squirt of ketchup or, if you’re lucky, a squirt of mustard. It is startling in its simplicity. Occasionally, sizzlers might push the boat out and fry some accompanying onions, but this complicates matters, especially for children. Even more occasionally, sizzlers might present the sausage and bread in a serviette which can be great for mopping ketchup besmirched faces but it will put up outlay costs and reduce the profit margin.
The great sausage debate
There is some debate about the best way to wrap the slice of bread around the sausage: should it be on the diagonal so that two corners meet over the sausage or straight so that two sides of the bread meet over the sausage? Diagonalists contend that their way facilitates the sampling of the sausage first before going on to combine it with bread and sauce while the Straights claim that their way is much neater and prevents unnecessary and messy spillage of sauce. In either case it’s true to say that the sausage generally protrudes on each side of the bread because sizzlers usually buy large precooked sausages which just need browning on the barbecue. Out of interest I can report that a recent poll has shown that the Diagonalists appear to be in a majority of almost 90%.
At first encounter, the pared down starkness of the bread and sausage combination might strike an immigrant like me as strangely minimalist, but any Kiwi will tell you that for him or her the beauty of the item lies in its simplicity. It’s a meat treat with carbohydrate and tasty sauce thrown in, an opportunity to forget about healthy eating for a few moments to savour this favourite of Kiwi cooking.