Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sausage and polenta

Portland, February 12, 2011—
OUR FAMILY HAS BEEN exogamous, for the most part, for generations, marrying outside its own group. Among the most charming results has been The Sausage Dance.

This was one of Pavel's inventions, by which he sought, consciously or not, to detach himself from his Czech origin while yet retaining an exotic persona among his adopted American society. Czechs are of course notorious meat-eaters; at one time I read they had the highest per capita consumption of meat in the world. And sausage is meat condensed to its most efficient quality.

I don't write here of cheap sausage that's been bulked up with rice, bran, corn, or any other industrial carbohydrates. I'm talking about old-world sausages that use every scrap of the animal, interior and exterior, chopping them up, flavoring and preserving them with a handful of this herb and that, and then casing them in yet another part of the inside of the animal.

So it's no surprise that a Czech immigrant should enhance his exotic Czechish nature, in this country, by accentuating this carnivorousness by inventing The Sausage Dance. This consists in placing the platter of the dinner's grilled sausages on the floor (or, if the occasion is more formal, on a small table) in the middle of the room, and dancing a sort of carmagnole around it, all hands clasped in a circle, dancing first clockwise, then counterclockwise, all the time chanting
Sau-sage sau-sage
We are gonna eat you
Tonight's sausages were French herb, New York, and Italian; Pavel grilled them outside; Giovanna made a big pot of polenta, and we had the obligatory green salad. Did we have cake and ice cream? Yes, we had cake and ice cream.
Barbera d'Alba, Castello di Verduno, 2006 (tight but a little over the hill); Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem, 2008
place, date—

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