Friday, June 15, 2018

Eating Illogical Sausages

From Bratwurst in Bavaria to Kubasa in Kiev, many cultures have some version of what Americans have, with winning brio, called the hotdog: a convenient and tasty arrangement of processed meat held in a bun designed specifically for the job and topped with dressing, making for a macronutritiously balanced package that carries well in one hand.  Not so in Switzerland.  Why?

On a visit to Switzerland, the ambulatory omnivore is confused to discover that ordering a cervelat - sometimes referred to as The National Meat - yields a perplexing plate on which a dollop of mustard stands lonely next to a crusty roll of bread and a sausage partly wrapped in wax paper.  This makes eating a complex operation requiring two hands, careful attention to tripping hazards, and a tenuous calculus to ensure that the bread, meat and topping are depleted at roughly equal rates.  

This state of affairs seems altogether out of sorts for a country well known for its efficiency.  Why make it so much extra work to eat a simple cylinder of spam on the go, when so many other better examples exist?

Here already the alimentary anthropologist has discovered the key.  The justification for the sausage-in-bun arrangement so common in other countries (ie., that it is a labour-saving adaptation) is moot - and even possibly bad - in Switzerland.  Among the Swiss the goal, we should remember, is almost never to work less.  The labour-intensive Swiss version of the hotdog, therefore, is already perfect: it contains all the required elements, and a hefty bit of Calvinist sweetener.  

So it is that the crucial addition to every Swiss sausage is not only mustard, but hard work. 

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