The history of sausage is mostly characterized by the need of civilizations to use all parts of the animals they caught and to preserve meat for consumption during lean seasons. Appropriately enough, the term sausage originates from the Latin expression salsus, meaning 'preserved' or 'salted.' Different countries developed sausage in different ways according to both climate considerations and regional taste preferences.
While it is hard to trace the exact origins of sausage, the ancient Greeks definitely consumed sausages made with pork. Since these resourceful people are credited with several inventions, it is no wonder that one of the earliest proofs of sausage consumption points to Greece. Named allas, these pork delicacies were sold at the Athens food market.
Since a sausage seller by the name of Agoracritus appears in the 424 B.C. play by Aristophanes called The Knights, it is obvious that sausage was already widely available during those times. Another early reference, this time regarding smoked sausage, is also recorded in Philogelos, an ancient collection of jokes.
One of the earliest countries to prepare smoked sausages is Italy. Renowned cookbook Apicius (fourth or fifth century) includes a recipe for a Roman version of sausages called lucanica, as well as a chapter dedicated to other sausages. This particular Roman recipe calls for fish sauce, savory, pepper, parsley, cumin, rue, bay berry spice, peppercorns and pine nuts.
Modern versions of this sausage appear in Spain, Greece, Italy, Corsica, Brazil, Portugal and Arabia. Unlike American sausages that are separated into links, these sausages are left as one long casing.
Since pork is a staple in China, sausage was developed early on here. Murals from the Han Dynasty show depictions of preserved meats hung on rods, including intestines that resemble sausages. In modern times, one notable type of sausage includes a Cantonese version called laap that includes rose-flavored vodka.
Dry versus fresh sausage
The history of sausage was also influenced by each region's climate. Countries with dry climates like Italy and Spain mainly cure sausage, while countries with damper, cooler weather like Britain and Germany tend to prepare fresh sausage.