I have to say that sausage - in all its uncountable versions - is truly the king of meats. Nothing short of a miracle, really. You take the cheapest, toughest, fattiest parts of the animal, grind them up with some plants and seeds, stuff them into an intestine, and the result is a creation which in my opinion surpasses any other food that comes from an animal.
The summer after senior year of college I took a two-week trip with my South African roommate to visit his family in Johannesburg. I'll never forget my first sight of boerewors, a huge continuous link of pork that never seemed to stop coming out of the cooler. This thing was coiled up on a charcoal grill like a rattlesnake, and if you wanted some you would just bring your bun up to the grill and cut a length off the outer edge of the coil. Split open from the heat, dripping with juice and fat, the char of the casing mixing with the flavors of clove and nutmeg, truly the world's best sausage. Eating boerewors on a cool African night, drinking Knob Creek and insulting each other as only the best of friends can, all against the Jo-burg background chorus of distant police sirens; sometimes great things just come together perfectly.
A couple summers later I spent some time in Chicago, living just across the highway from Depaul. In the evenings I would walk across the highway bridge and stroll around the area. Is there any place and time that says "Chicago" more than Taylor Street on a summer evening? It was on one of these nights that I discovered Jim's Original, a street stand right out of a Hopper gallery, the florescent light filtering through a grease-spattered window to paint yellow the cross-section of urban citizenry waiting in line for a Polish sausage. One bite, the natural casing snaps, the garlicky juice blending with the rich sweetness of the grilled onions with the mustard tang cutting through it all. Really the perfect sticky, greasy meal for a sticky, sweaty, summer night in Chicago.
So maybe it's not just the sausage, but also the circumstance? I don't know. All I know is that a good majority of my most satisfying meals have involved sausage of some kind. So what is the best sausage you ever had?
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