In December I took a look at the first three releases in Reaktion Books’ Edible Series, a projected two-dozen mini food histories on big, iconic topics such as hamburgers, pancakes, and pizza, distributed by the University of Chicago Press. The next three are due out May Day and include Roosevelt U. food historian Bruce Kraig’s long awaited Hot Dog: A Global History. I’ve had a quick look, and what jumps out immediately is the idea that sausage making was once every bit as swashbuckling as bullfighting. Take this bit from Kraig’s 1990 interview with Curtis Slotkin of the Hygrade Company, original makers of Ball Park Franks:

You see, in the old days the choppers and mixers were open. The closer the sausage maker could come to the blade, the better the meat could turn so that the seasonings would mix, the better. If you lost one finger you were a great sausage maker, if you lost two you were magna cum laude and if you lost three you were summa cum laude. In the old days lots of sausage makers had fingers missing.

The other two new books in the series are Spices, by Fred Czarra and Pie, by Janet Clarkson. Look for a longer review in a few weeks.