Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Wors Wars

Since man first discovered fire and brought home  Dino wors,
there have been discussions/arguments over whose wors is the best.

You will get as many answers as there are men standing
 in the smoke around the braai fire.
And, like the lotto tag line “You have to be in it to win it”,
you cannot stand on the periphery of the smoke and make your contribution.
Neither can you comment via social media when images are posted. 
No, you have to be at the coal face, literally.

What makes a great wors?
As any butcher will tell you, it is the spices that make a great wors...
those and the quality of the meat and the casing.
Traditional spices would include salt, pepper, coriander, cloves and nutmeg.
While there are no rules that govern the contents of either sausage or “braai wors”,
 the opposite applies to proper Boerewors.
It has to be cut by hand and not mechanical means
( like boiling the meat to remove it from the bone),
there has to be a minimum of 90% meat,a maximum of 30%
and no organs can be used.

Slaving in cold rooms across the country butchers produce a range of wors
 that is not only iconic to our country, but region specific as well.
Yes , there are butcheries in far flung lands, like Australia and New Zealand
 that produce something similar.
More often than not these products are made by ex-South Africans
who have relocated and now hanker for a “stukkie”.

Wors, although it can be cooked on/in a stove, needs the woody flavour
that only a hot coal fire can produce.
Yes, gas is an option,but the resultant wors falls short on flavour.
All the butchers that I spoke to had a “special” ingredient
that they were not prepared to divulge.
While “sausage” can be used as a term of endearment
( “My little sausage” when referring to a loved one,
it does not sound as endearing when the word 'wors' is substituted)
Buying your wors from your local supermarket can be seen as a convenience purchase,
whereas buying it from your local suburban butcher you can be assured
of the quality and the quantity that you purchase.

Wors is to men what Prada is to women.
I know that is a generalization, so in the spirit of equality,
 I chatted to a couple of female butchers to get their thoughts
on what is predominantly a male domain.
Their insights were, well, insightful as they saw the playing fields as almost being level.
 It is often the women who actually buy the meat and the men just do the cooking
and claim to know their coriander from their cloves.
The wors that is made by female butcheries also differs in taste,
but that is a personal preference.
But back the the hero of this dish...the wors itself.

Unlike chops or steak, where portion sizes can be calculated,
wors defies that as you have to order by length.
Do you then measure to fit a roll? Do you take a guess and run short?
Or do you just “chuck some on the fire” and let your guests fight it out?
After extensive research, I discovered that the ideal length for a piece of wors
 is 15-18cm...just filling a traditional hot dog roll.
Remembering that “he who braai's gets the first piece”!
And possibly the last as well...well hidden from the prying eyes of the rest of the diners.
How should the wors be cooked?
Under cooked, like a steak tartar?
Medium so that there is very little juice left inside the casing?
Or cooked so that it resembles an item that was found in Chernobyl and glows in the dark?

Here again, hours of time at the fire led me to believe that taste can be subjective
and it is better to ask your guests before burning every piece to a crisp.
It seems now that the old rivalry of gas versus fire has had another competitor enter the fray
...the stove.
With the hectic urban lives that we lead, people often braai in a pan on a stove top.
By careful cooking you can produce the perfect piece of wors.
That being said, almost all the wors experts will tell you that gas is NOT the idea method.

Aside from the flavour of the wors, the sauce that is going to be served
also plays a part in the final “taste test”.
Is it going to be a simple tomato and onion gravy or
will it be some secret concoction past down from father to son?
Will the “Wors wars” ever be resolved to everyone's satisfaction?
Somehow, I don't think so, but that being said, does it really matter.

Just like most people who braai have a favourite set of tongs
that they will use until they have to be discarded due to age,
 those same people will swear that their wors is “tops”...
until they discover a new supplier that they believe
 is better than their previous source.

For those who are wondering,
THIS is where I get my wors.
You can find them at the corner of 8th Street and 4th Ave, Linden.
Pop in and have a chat, try their wors and
like me, become a convert...

If you are in need of a recipe or two...or three for your braai.
look no further:

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