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Foods of Cornwall
The Newmarket Sausage is about 4ins long weighing about 2oz and containing 65 to 75% pork from the whole animal, coarsely chopped or minced. The filling is either bread or rusk, highly salted, with a mix of herbs and spices. The colour is the natural colour of the meat, deep pink-beige with a few flecks of spices. The texture is dry and the taste is moderately spicy. The sausage has European Protected Geographical Indication, meaning that it can only be called 'Newmarket' if made in that area.
There is now a certain degree of healthy rivalry between Newmarket sausage makers, reduced from perhaps a dozen butchers at the start of the 20th Century to only a handful. Two of the most noted makers are the company established in 1884 by James Musk, who have held a Royal Warrant since 1907 (and who use soaked bread as a binder), and that of Powters, still operated by the original family (who use rusk).
Sausage rivals: Musk & Co's Newmarket Shop (above) www.musks.com and Powters www.powters.co.uk, (below)
It is not entirely clear where the form originates, but the name is known at least since 1849 when 'Bye-Lanes and Downs of England with Turf Scenes and Characters' by 'Sylvanus' has; "... we returned to breakfast on Newmarket sausages and water-cresses." Since then it has been strongly associated with this horse-racing town, and repeatedly mentioned as the necessary breakfast for visiting race-goers.
Edmund Spencer's 'Cakes and Ale' of 1897 has; 'Do not forget to order sausages for breakfast if you are staying at Newmarket'.
George Harpers 'Sport and History' of 1904 tells that at Newmarket on a race day there would be; "Stalls for the sale of all manner of possible and impossible things form a continuous line along that broad thoroughfare. Even uncooked pork sausages are offered for sale, but what the class of people who flock into Newmarket for half a day are supposed to want with them it is difficult to conceive. The Newmarket sportsman is scarcely the kind of person who might be expected to carry a pound or so of pork sausages with him on to the course, or on his lap, going home."
The London magazine 'Belgravia' (vol 16) of 1872 defines a day at the races as; "What was Newmarket? Sausages for breakfast - a lame hack - 500 to 400 taken twice, and lost..."
'The Real Adventures of Robinson Crusoe' by FC Burnand (1889?) has; "I could want a barrel of porter, tins of preserved vegetables, cases of Newmarket sausages, all sorts of condiments"
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