The Phallacies of Sausage Making
Cooks tend to have minds that reside permanently in the gutter. As Anthony Bourdain observed in Kitchen Confidential, "As an art form, cook-talk is, like haiku or kabuki, defined by established rules…All comments must, out of historical necessity, concern involuntary rectal penetration, penis size, physical flaws or annoying mannerisms or defects." But even if one doesn't smirk during pastry class ("beat it harder!"), there's no keeping it cool in Sausage Making 101. It's a lesson that makes even the most virginal cook smirk.
First off, there's "The Dick." Or actually, DICK, as it's engraved across the sausage stuffing machine. Yes, the world's #1 phallic food is manufactured by a machine that boasts the world's #1 phallic name. There are other sausage stuffers with less risque titles (nothing too sexy about "Northern Industrial"), but if you're going for quality, the F. Dick is your machine. It hails from Germany, the mutterland of sausage making, where the Friederich Dick company has been creating these stainless steel sausage stuffing monsters for over 100 years. Ranging from $600 to $3,000, it's quite an expensive package (check out the manufacturer’s site to land one of your own).
Once the chef instructor wheels out “The Big Dick,” as it’s fondly referred to by some, the subject matter briefly turns PG. Sausage making is an intricate, multi-step process. The cook must first grind a mixture of lean meat and fat, called a farce, which is a ratio of 25 to 30 percent fat by weight of meat. This ensures that the sausage remains moist, and maintains a proper consistency. During the grinding and mixing process, the ingredients must be kept very cold to prevent "smearing," which results in a goopy mess that's as unsavory as it sounds. And finally one must season the meat, fry up some tester sausage patties and adjust the spices to taste. But once these initial steps have concluded, it's time to get dirty and begin stuffing.
The seasoned ground meat is bound by a casing, which in pre-industrial days meant the intestine of a cow, pig or sheep. Nowadays there are also collagen and synthetic casings that are more flexible for sausages with wide diameters. But whether you go natural or synthetic, casings are white, stretchy wrappers that are fitted onto the machine and filled with meat. This is when things go from culinary class to middle school sex ed. There are snickers as the instructors demonstrate how to slide the casing onto the machine's protruding pipe. It gets worse when the meat is pressed through the machine, and there are certain stroking motions that one must apply in order to guide the filling through. Youthink it's all over after the casings have been filled and the sausage sectioned off into links, but then there's a final step. It involves a tool called "The Prick." The casing is punctured to release air, and only The Prick can do the job. There are a lot of "can I see your prick for a second?"-esque jokes. Needless to say, everyone's a little closer after sausage class.