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Why is Scottish Sausage Square?

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The Scottish are known for their patriotism and pride over their culture, perhaps most of all, their food. The square, slice or Lorne sausage is one of Scotland’s most famous foods, but where did it come from?

Known as a snack, a breakfast and a successful hangover cure, I doubt there are any self-respecting mobile food vans or cafés in Scotland where you can’t get a sliced sausage in a bap. The debate over whether the correct sauce accompaniment is red or broon is one that could break up families.

Some are cheap ‘mystery meat’ variations whose taste and texture should be well masked with sauce, but the best slices are made with real Scottish beef, gently spiced, thick and dense.

The sausages have appeared in Scottish cookbooks since the 1800’s. They were sent out as breakfast rations to the soldiers in 1917, and are now shipped to ex-Pats all over the world. Apparently they are also a staple in Canadian fast-food restaurants (although served with maple syrup on an English muffin is perhaps not how most Scots would eat theirs!).

The original reason for the square shape is a simple one. In the 19th century metal tins were easily available and used readily for baking and cooking. Shaping a sausage in a tin was cheaper, quicker and more convenient than the link sausage skin method.

The origin of the name is less clear. The famous comedian Tommy Lorne, who joked about sausages in his acts has been credited with donating his name to the famous slice – but the evidence and timings don’t quite match up, as the name was in common usage before Tommy was even born! Others argue that it’s named after the district of Lorne which used to make up part of what is now Argyll and Bute.

We might never know where the name came from, but the recipes have been about for hundreds of years and are sure to be here for a long time to come.

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