Scottish icons: Square sausage, by Robert McNeil

MY apologies if I’ve made your mouth water this fine Sunday morning. Perhaps you’ve just had your muesli (or muselli as my dear old Auntie Jessie called it, presumably thinking it an Italian pasta dish). Perhaps you’ve just allowed yourself a slice of sourdough toast with added budgie seed.

But what you really wanted was a roll on square sausage: a proper Scots breakfast (also dinner, tea and supper, the last as in something you have at 9pm, not the teatime “suppah” of irritating toffs). If you’re veggie, I’ve just checked and there are meat-free versions available too. I’ve no idea what these taste like but at least they’re the same right size: perfect for putting on a roll.

Following comedian Count Arthur Strong, health conscious meat-eaters might like to have meat-free square sausage as the veg to accompany their proper square sausage. All part of your five a day, minus four.

And this news just in: once more, we’ve scored something unashamedly Scottish (and no country is more ashamed than Scotland) for this week’s Icon. As Michael Munro put it in The Patter: “See England? See if ye ask fur squerr sausage, they look at ye as if yer were daft.”

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Before we get into the epistemological and metaphysical aspects of square sausage, I should explain for extraterrestrial readers that the delicacy consists of meat (usually beef, but sometimes pork, sometimes a mixture of the two), rusk and spices cut from a formed block into slices measuring 10 (width) x 1 (depth) of your newfangled centimetres.

They shrink a bit when cooked and have a high fat content to keep Scotch folk warm and cosy during their dreich winters and summers. It says here the comestible is sometimes made with black pudding or haggis through the middle. Unhand me, madam! Never heard such a thing. I’ve got acid reflux seeping out my ears just thinking about it.

According to Glasgow butcher GH Davidson, square sausage “can easily be part of your calorie controlled diet”. Can it, aye? Well, aye, as it turns oot. One square is 201 calories, according to the butchers (who also do a “skinny” one at 100 calories), making 327 calories with your roll. “Compare that to a French croissant which is 400 calories.” Good point, GHD. Next time, I’m having mine on a croissant.

While we’re here, I should contribute authoritatively, and with some emotion, to the vexed and often heated debate surrounding the correct name. Square sausage, according to my researchers, relates to the comestible’s shape, though pedants often point out that it’s often not truly square. However, I cannot think rhomboid sausage sounds appetising.

At any rate, the general gist bears out the observation that “in Germany there’s a sausage on every corner while in Scotland there’s a corner on every sausage”.

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If you’re right posh you might refer to Lorne sausage, after the area of Argyll. No one’s sure of the reason for that. Obviously, it may have originated there, though some psychologists link it (no sausage pun intended) to the Marquess of Lorne, son of the Duke of Argyll and son-in-law to that Queen Victoria.

Doesn’t sound like much of a square sausage man, but he was right famous in his day, and foods back then were often named after celebrities. So, today, you might be putting a Kardashian sausage on your piece.

There’s a popular conspiracy theory that the delicacy was named after Kirkintilloch-born comedian Tommy Lorne. He was famous for the catchphrase, “If ah don’t get ye the coos’ll get ye!” I see.

Tommy often mocked square sausage, which he likened to “doormats”. The problem with this thesis is that the comedian, christened Hugh Gallagher Corcoran, was born in 1890, while “Lorne sausages” were advertised in Her Majesty’s Press (or at least the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser) as early as 1896.

You may also have heard square sausage referred to as square slice, sliced sausage or even just slice. This is disgraceful. However, it has its adherents, and there is even a Facebook page specifically set up to make the case for “slice” being the correct appellation. The page argues cogently: “Square sausage, you say? It’s slice, ya f*d.”

Unfortunately for the slicers, when The Scotsman – a newspaper, M’lud – ran a poll to test their thesis, square sausage came out on top with 48 per cent of the vote, followed by slice on 24%, Lorne sausage on 19%; square slice 8%, and steak slice 1%.

Square sausage is sometimes linked only to the west of Scotland, but this is mental. As the Scots Language Centre/Centre for the Scots Leid said: “Our research … shows that this type of sausage is not confined to the west but is known throughout the country from Orkney down to Roxburgh.”

I must say that, if you fancy researching this subject yourself on yon Google, it’s not for the faint-hearted. I’ve found people asking, “Would you die if you ate raw Lorne sausage?”, and “Can you drink sausages?” Ridiculous question. Just put them in a juicer and Rab’s your uncle.

A couple of years ago, you’ll recall that I wrote non-exclusively about German supermarket Aldi claiming to have invented a square sausage called “sausedge”. Outrage ensued. Comedian Limmy accused Aldi of “cultural appropriation”.

German supermarket rivals Lidl tweeted: “Things Aldi also claim to have invented: 1. Irn Bru. 2. Haggis. 3. The Proclaimers. 4. Yer Da Selling Avon.” (For an explanation of the last-named, about fathers in reduced economic and moral circumstances, see the excellent Scottish Government public information film by The Wee Man on YouTube).

In the interest of research in the real world, followed by a no less fascinating expenses claim, I’ve just eaten two slices on white breid – couldnae find any croissants on the premises – and can confirm: yummy. This has made me a new man. I cannot remain here indoors talking to youse. I’m away oot to conquer new worlds. Might have a wee nap on the settee first but.

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The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992