A Brief History of Pricks

Wednesday 26/1/2005

Back to noshblog site (click here)

Diary and Notes

Today I am staying with my friends Laurie and Rachel in Chorlton (Manchester). They are one of those glowing, newly moved in together couples, just setting out on the long and windy road (as in not straight, nothing to do with flatulence) of domestic bliss and fights with plate throwing. As such, Laurie is doing the manly thing of providing for his new love with a jolly good nosh up of bangers and mash. I'm not going to review the meal at length. The sausages were excellent, the mash with the peel still in, had a wholesome, rustic feel and the organic vegetables (from Unicorn grocers of course) were crunchy and sweet, just how I like them. Laurie did a fine traditional meal and I enjoyed every mouthful. However, something happened during the cooking that must be mentioned. Something so shocking that both Rachel and I drew a sharp intake of breath and though I was too polite to comment myself (though I'll slag the guy off on my blog of course) Rachel had to speak.

Laurie pricked the sausages!

Yes, I know, I understand your pain. I too, felt the disturbance in the force. He was grilling the sausages nice and slowly as a sausage should be grilled and then half way through, pierced the skins with a fork to let the juice out.

I've been having trouble sleeping ever since.

"Can you still hear the sausages screaming Clarice..?"

Why does this happen?

I know why Laurie does it, it's because he's obsessed with not eating fat. It's hard enough to get him to eat a sausage at all, as he leans towards the tree hugging side of the food spectrum where dwell the squash eaters and granola fascists. He was pricking the sausages in the hopes that some of the tasty, juicy fat, would leak out and give him an extra five pico-seconds of existence, but I'm with Kingsley Amis on this when he said: "No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home in Weston-super-Mare"

So that's why Laurie does it, but why do other people? It's a matter of our sorry British food history.

As with many things, the second world war is to blame for bad British food. During this time of privation and shortage, people couldn't get the ingredients to prepare the recipes that had been developed and passed down from the Victorians. Meat was in such short supply that sausages we now little more than rusk and flavouring, wrapped in intestine. When cooked, the high rusk content caused steam to build up inside the sausage and often they would explode (hence the name bangers) and people were forced to prick them to prevent such disasters occurring.

Sadly, when the war was over, butchers continued to get away with selling inferior sausages and it wasn't until the eighties that better quality sausages began to appear on the shelves. By this time it was too late however and people had learned that if they didn't prick their sausages they were liable to burst. So now everybody cooks their sausages and pricks them to stop them bursting, letting all the tastiness leak out and go to waste, it is a sad and sorry thing indeed.

One final note: Kingsley Amis also said: "If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing." thus (I believe) permitting me to have a go at my chum Laurie with Kingsley's blessing from beyond the grave.

Cake Blog

Cherry Bakewell from Cafe Nero: I think cafe Nero may be the chain of choice. the coffee is top notch and their cakes are always tasty.


  • Sausages
  • Mash
  • Brocolli
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Gravy