The cover star of the latest issue of Pit is a balloon animal dog made out of sausages. The first ever themed issue of the barbecue magazine, Pit no. 8 is a “sausage special”, and it reads like a love letter. The stories about sausages printed here are richly detailed. One essay, by Jonathan Nunn, traces the wild popularity of the Goan sausage back to the way pork was introduced to Goa by colonists in the 1500s; pork and beef consumption among native Hindu and Muslim converts became a way to prove their sincerity, becoming a crucial part of Catholic Goan identity. Another, by Adrienne Katz Kennedy, is about the Portuguese ‘Alheira’ sausage’s links to the Portuguese inquisition of the 1400s, which outlawed the practice of Jewish and Islamic religions. Jewish families were able to hide their faith by dangling Alheira sausages from their windows: from the outside it looked like a pork sausage, but it was secretly made with chicken, in accordance with kosher law.
Probably the biggest thrill of reading Pit, is that you get to enjoy some pretty delectable descriptions of sausages. Take this one, by Katz Kennedy, about Alheira:
“… the thin casing splits open under the direct heat and the soft filling starts to ooze out like one of those Play-Doh presses. The texture inside is … soft, creamy, and almost pâté-like, with distinguishable bits of tender shredded chicken inside.”
Or this, by Angela Hui, about Chinese lap cheung:
“Since the days of my simple childhood meals before service this sneakily sweet, aniseedy, thin, knobbly, dark sausage with candlewax fat is still a magical saviour ingredient…”
Close-up and high-relief, the photographs in here have a similar fleshiness. There’s a beautiful shoot of Coney Island’s iconic “Nathan’s Famous” hotdog restaurant. And Turkish-Cypriot columnist Big Has is pictured making seftali, which, as he explains, is encased in a lamb’s abdominal membrane: “It’s actually kinda pretty to look at, like a smelly stained glass window”.
What I love most about Pit is its practicality, and its attention to detail. At the very back there’s a helpful guide to the exact temperature you should cook different cuts of meat at (“Rare steak: 50-54 degrees”; “Medium Rare 55-59 degrees”), there’s a special section devoted to condiments, and the whole final third of the magazine is devoted to recipes to make sausages from scratch. These range from the familiar: pepperoni; to the exotic: battered sausage with chip shop curry sauce.