Monday, June 30, 2008

Having your sausage and eating it

I'm a big fan of Cumberland sausages. I like the big chunky ones I get from Whites on Market Street in Marple. I'm pretty sure they don't ship them in from Penrith every week.

Now there's a campaign - well, a PR stunt - to protect it. It's got everything, celebrity chefs, a Facebook page, regional indignation, a website, even a day (July 5) devoted to it:

Traditional Cumberland Sausage Day is being held as part of the campaign to give the sausage the same protection as products like Champagne, Parma Ham and Greek Feta cheese. A number of businesses around the county are organising special events including Traditional Cumberland Sausage barbeques and menus featuring the sausage.

They're having a launch day that should get the client - Made in Cumbria - on the local news. Especially at some of the events, including a barbie at the Waterhead Hotel in Ambleside, where chef Michael Weston Cole has made these spicy delights which should only call themselves Cumberland Sausages if they were made in Cumbria.

Er, slight problem. If we're going to get pedantic here, then I should point out that Ambleside isn't in Cumberland. It's in Westmorland. Cumberland as a county ceased to exist in 1974, when Cumbria was formed out of the two old North West counties - with some stolen parts of North Lancashire, including Barrow and Bowness-on-Windermere. There are pedants and traditionalists with maps of the traditional counties in their hallways, like me, who still regard the Cumbria project and the dissolution of Lancashire as a backward step. This kind of opportunistic PR nonsense just makes me ache even more for what was destroyed.

The protection is therefore bending its own rules. There's even something called a Westmorland Sausage, which it seems to me is more in need of protection than ever, as it appears to have been erased from all but the hardiest butchers in Kendal. It's slightly more herby, like Lincolnshire and there's something about it here.

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