Monday, October 8, 2018

Sausage party

American poet John Godfrey Saxe -- not Otto von Bismark -- deserves credit for this observation comparing legislating with charcuterie: “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.”

I thought of these well-traveled words this past weekend. On the day that the U.S Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, I stood in a friend's backyard ready to make bratwurst. (For the record, the concurrent scheduling of these events was coincidental, rather than intentional political commentary.)

After milling about and ice breaking among friends of friends who didn't all know each other, we were summoned to action by our host. My first job landed me on the mixing station where I plunged my well-washed hands -- soaped and rinsed all the way up to the elbows -- into a huge plastic tub of ground pork, eggs, dry milk, and secret spices. I squished those ingredients into a homogeneous mixture, and then I cleaned my hands again, thoroughly. (Having stashed my filigreed wedding ring in my jeans pocket before getting to work proved to be an inspired move.)

On to the manufacturing station next. I teamed with four other volunteers to form an assembly line. One of us took responsibility for gathering softballs of raw meat to thwack into a metal cylinder. (I learned that the 'thwack' was essential in knocking air pockets out of the meat since those could compromise effective loading.) Once the cylinder had been fitted into the stuffing apparatus and the casing gently twisted onto the extruder (my job), the slow methodical cranking could begin. This soon forced ground meat uniformly into the casing, which I coaxed and fed forward to the next two teammates -- one partner using a pin to prick holes in lingering bubbles, saving us from unsightly explosions once on the grill; the other partner working quickly to twirl the sausage snake into equivalent links. This process ran for about two hours, yielding a couple hundred tube-steaks.

I'm glad I got to see (and join in) this sausage being made as I actually gained more respect for the process. My feelings about our legislators, in comparison, may be for the (um) wurst.


  1. How does one aspire to make sausage with a group? You have a much more interesting life.

  2. I love how you bookended the brats with the political scene and linked up your thinking about brats & the law.

  3. Ahhhhhh! A "bun"ch of good writing, dining & friendship. !doog lla s'tI