Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

For almost as long as I can remember I have been wont to produce a quick mid-week supper consisting of sausages cooked in a garlicky, herby tomato and red wine sauce and usually served with pasta – or sometimes flatbread.

By sausages (in this context) I don’t mean British bangers but something of the densely textured, spicy continental variety. When I had access to an outstanding Italian deli, it used to be rosarios. Now it tends to be the Greek/Cypriot pastourma. But sometimes I have to resort to whatever is available.

The Turkish supermarket near my local (very convenient, especially when it’s time to go to the pub and I realise I haven’t yet made any provision for dinner) normally has pastourma plus numerous varieties of sucuk (which seems to be a generic Turkish word for sausages of any shape or form, although I’m given to understand that technically it’s a dry, spicy, fermented beef sausage). In another aisle are yet more sausagey things which are clearly of eastern European origin.

Whilst I’m always willing to try new foods, selecting one the myriad varieties of sausage on offer can be a bit of a gamble as there is little indication of the internal composition of the things, either from the exterior or the packaging (assuming I’ve brought my spectacles and the print is legible and at least partly in English, which it often isn’t). It’s not even obvious whether they are meant for cooking or ready to eat. I’ve tried asking the staff for advice but, helpful as they try to be, it usually transpires that their English is not up to discussing the nuances of sausagey textures and flavours.

And the outcome is, more often than not, disappointment, for it seems that the greater proportion of these cured meat products, whether of eastern European or Mediterranean origin, are decidedly spammy. That is to say they have the texture and flavour of that well-known brand of processed meat or its generic British equivalent, pork luncheon meat, rather than the dense granular texture and spicy/herby flavours that I’m looking for to complement my sauce.

So, it’s usually pastourma again – if they have any.