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Friday means beer and sausages, and some Latin

May 14, 2010

Surprise, surprise – I haven’t updated this blog as often as I wanted to. I am currently working on an article that is taking a bit of research, but it should be done pretty soon. Hint: it will be about burgers and mold. Yum.

Today’s little post is about how to combine some of the greater things in life: sausages and beer. Here in Norway we mostly use German style sausages like Wiener, Bratwurst, Frankfurter etc, and it’s common to simmer or grill them. Mostly people simmer them in water, but beef stock is also used. Today I tried simmering in beer, and it works quite well!

For noms, you’ll need:

Sausages. Preferably German/Scandinavian types/hot dogs

Buns, or mashed potatoes if you like

Beer. Since the sausages already have a lot of flavor, you’ll need a flavorful beer to go with it. I used Norwegian non-alcoholic malt beer (“Wort beer” or Vørterøl) since I couldn’t find anything else. Any dark, bitter-sweet lager would probably work best.

A couple of bay leafs

Some whole black pepper

Bring beer and spices to a boil, add sausages and let simmer for about 10 minutes. But don’t let it boil once the sausages have been added, they will crack open and look like zombie intestines!


And there you have it.

Today’s science lesson: linguistics and archaeology

The word “sausage” comes from old northern French saussiche, which developed from the Latin salcia ”sausage”  from salcius ”seasoned with salt” – which originally comes from the Latin salsus ”salt”. This is also the origin of the word “sauce”.

The origins of the word “beer” or old English beor is still under discussion, but it probably came as a loan word from the 6th century West German monastic word biber meaning “a drink”, which was taken from the Latin bibere “to drink”. It might also be the proto-Germanic beuwoz-, from *beuwo– “barley.”

The earliest indications of beer(ish) brewing is the finds of pottery with a mix of rice, honey, and fruit that was probably fermented, in China – 9000 years ago(!). Beer brewed from cereals has also been around for thousands of years. There are even archaeologists suggesting that humans adapted agriculture and grain cultivation in order to be able to brew beer!

Sausages came about much later. The earliest indications of sausage making is also in China about 2500 years ago. Sausages have been a way of using edible but not very delicate-looking bits of animal, as well as a way of preserving food by salting it – thus the name.

Fun stuff to read

The history of beer at Wikipedia

Ale’s Well with the World: a fun short article in Scientific American about yet another archaeologists blaming beer for the introduction of agriculture

The Art and Practice of Sausage Making

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