Friday, February 22, 2008

The globalization of "the people's sausage"

In what will no doubt further prove my so-called "strange relationship with cased meats," I must share some disturbing news: Cervelas, the national sausage of Switzerland, is on the brink of demise.

How could this happen to such a dear, dear meat at such an inopportune time? Hadn't they taken out the brains out of the recipe long ago? Hadn't it fed the urban proletariate for generations? Hadn't it been for the nation everything a sausage should?  Yes, yes, of course. 

So how did this sausage end up on the endangered species list? The answer to this question is the answer to so many others: globalization. A few years ago, when the Swiss finally got tired of cleaning out cow intestines, they switched to zebu intestine so the Brazilians could do it for them. (The zebu, I can save you a few moments' searching on Wikipedia, is a big old water buffalo-like animal with a hump, found in warm climates with, apparently, strong intestines.) 

Surely the Swiss Sausage Board wouldn't have made this decision, had they known of its tragic implications, that these very intestines would end up on the EU's list of banned animal parts and put cervelas on death row just a few years later. No doubt they are retracing their steps, wondering if they are to blame, if they missed the warning signs, what else they could have done. Will they will be held responsible for the downfall of a national tradition? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, cervelas rests uneasily on the (figurative) chopping block, as the diplomats debate zebu importation and the Sausage Board seeks alternative casing options. Will this proud sausage become another unintended victim of globalization or will some sort of compromise be made? I'll keep you posted if they come to a conclusion or should Noam Chomsky weigh in at some point.

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