John B Keane: nothing is as bare as the skinless sausage

IT is a long time now since the first skinless sausage made its appearance on the counters of grocers, pork butchers and other vendors or pork products.

IT is a long time now since the first skinless sausage made its appearance on the counters of grocers, pork butchers and other vendors or pork products.

Personally speaking it is the most of 20 years since I came face to face with my first skinless sausage. The exact number of years escapes me but I was unprepared for them because I had been inured so to speak by an unusually heavy and attractive publicity campaign in the press and on radio. Consequently, when I first saw one I was not as shocked as I might otherwise be.

It happened, of all places, in the charming town of Nenagh. We were, to the best of my recollection, returning from a football game in Dublin and we decided not to break our fast till we arrived in the town of Nenagh at a distinguished hostelry where a warm welcome always awaits the traveller.

First we went to the bar where we called for drinks and where one of our company, more adventurous and more courageous than the rest of us, asked in the calmest manner possible if we might be permitted to inspect the menu.

We were duly presented with the same and being fellows with simple tastes, at the time, we opted unanimously for mixed grills.

I have always been intrigued by the composition of mixed grills and in this respect no two hotels are the same.

The classic mixed grill consists of morsels of black and white pudding, a chop, a rasher, a brace of sausages, a single pig’s kidney and to add colour and gaiety the half of moderately sized tomato fried or raw according to the disposition of the chef.

There are establishments where more than one chop is given but where this happens it is more than likely that there will be no kidney.

Other dining halls fill up the plate with anything handy and often neglect to include the chop which item is considered to be the base of all mixed grills.

Others frown upon the inclusion of tomatoes and I have seen mixed grills where one and often two fried eggs usurped the function of the rasher.

Since this, however, is not a dissertation on mixed grills but a treatise having to do in a small way with the first appearance of the skinless sausage I will say no more about the whimsical and varying compositions of the former.

As we sat in the bar waiting to be called to our meal and sipping our several drops of porter the conversation was relaxed and uncomplicated.

The barmaids smiled attractively whenever we looked their way and all in all it could be said that the stage was set for a most entertaining meal.

Eventually we were summoned to the dining room and there we were shown to a table and soon two waitresses arrived bearing our several mixed grills with consummate ease in skilled hands.

They placed them before us and enquired if we would care for chips. We agreed that they might complement the meal and ordered some.

It was then that we noticed something amiss with the sausages. As I said earlier I was somewhat prepared having taken notice of the advance publicity.

The others were caught by surprise but none seemed willing to be the first to speak. One fellow cut a portion of his chop as if there were nothing the matter. Suddenly the youngest member of the party spoke up.

“Hi,” he said, “someone is after whipping the skin off my sausages.” In spite of having said this he promptly devoured the half of one of them and thrust his fork in the other half indicating that it was for the same destination as the first.

Then another member of the company thrust a fork in the larger of his two sausages. He held the sausage aloft for all to see.

“Did you ever anything as bare in your life,” he said and without waiting for confirmation of his observation he immediately thrust the whole sausage into his mouth. One of our party, however, was somewhat of a moralist. He looked at the sausages, and look of disgust appeared on his face.

“They’re naked,” he shouted. “Take them away.”

“Certainly,” said the fellow who had eaten his sausages whole.

These few comments of mine I hope will be of some help to the student. They are no more than the sum of the reactions of a few to a novelty but as I say they be of some value.