"Laws are like sausages: it is better not to see them being made."
I only came to appreciate this sentiment, attributed to the German statesman Otto von Bismarck, when I found myself in charcuterie class, faced with a quart container full of intestine and a bowl of ground meat, fat, and spices.
At the start of class, my chef instructor asked me to "go grab the Big Dick."
Imagine my surprise. I hardly knew the man.
"The Dick," or the F. Dick Sausage Stuffer, made in Germany, is the premier sausage stuffer, referred to by those in the know as "the Mercedes of all stuffers." It comes in a variety of volumes: the eighteen, twenty-four, and thirty pound (oh my!) version for use in culinary schools, butcher shops, and army bases. If you prefer to stuff your sausage privately (and who doesn't...you don't have to look your best or spring for dinner and drinks), there is the smaller, 3 lb stuffer.
Take a look at this sleek baby:
I followed the stuffing process as instructed:
1) First, I filled the main cavity of the machine with ground meat, and cranked the plunger down to compress the stuffing. After a pre-ejaculatory rush of warning air, out came my sausage mixture, through a lovely long shaft, the "stuffer tube" (I am not making this up). About 4-5" in length, this tube varies in diameter, depending on how thick you want your sausage. This is, of course, a highly personal decision. Casting aside all sense of propriety, I picked the largest tube and screwed it into place.
2) Threading the intestinal casing onto the shaft while in a full kitchen of culinary students and classically trained chefs felt about as decent as popping a squat in the middle of a three-star restaurant. Per instructions, I had cleaned off the intestine with cold running water, and now had to take this wet, snot-like tube and spread it open wide enough to cover the diameter of the shaft. Visions of sex-ed classes re-played themselves in my head as I rolled the entire thing, inch by inch, up the shaft.
3) Once the intestine was secured and knotted, I worked with a friend to crank out the meat and guide the quickly expanding sausage into a large coil. My hands were covered in a slippery goo. At one point, the casing burst open and meat poured out. "Easy there, tiger," said my classmate, chuckling.
When my instructor saw the finished product, he remarked upon the girth of my sausages: "Un peu grande, non, Sophie?" he asked, smirking. Who knew that merguez is supposed to be made in the smaller and more delicate lamb's intestine, not the bigger, sturdier pig's intestine which I used? Would Freud have marked me down for overcompensation? Sausage-envy?
Suddenly self-conscious, I busied myself by slicing one sausage open and frying up a bit of the meat in a patty, turning the kitchen's attention to the taste. It was, if I do say so myself, phenomenal.
There was one last thing to do. After those intimate, personal moments with The Dick, I was instructed to gently clean every part of the machine and, finally, to "lubricate the appropriate parts."
In my generation, one lubricates the appropriate parts before the experience, but, as I never stop learning, French cuisine has its own rules. If my culinary idols lubricate after, who am I to protest?