Winter is Coming

Winter is coming and here in the nort-eastern part of the United States, that means several important things in the grocery store. Apples are here in plenteous varieties. Most things not on the outside edge of the grocery store are now available in a “pumpkin spice” variety. And most important to those eating low carb: summer sausage is now available!

(For those unfamiliar: summer sausage is a dried sausage which can be kept at room temperature at least until cut open. As such it’s pretty firm, though not actually hard, and can be used as an alternative to crackers for eating various kinds of cheese. My favorite is cream cheese, though swiss, cheddar, etc go well on it too.)

The original idea of summer sausage was that it was cured in such a way that it was readily available in summertime, before the days of inexpensive refrigeration. (From time immemorial there would be people who would trudge up mountains, cut blocks of ice, haul them down, then put them in an underground cellar where they would melt slowly enough to keep the room at freezing or near-freezing temperatures, but this was very labor-intensive and hence expensive. Plus it requires tall mountains nearby.) How summer sausage came to be a winter food, I do not know. It’s possible that it’s always been like this since fall is a good time for slaughtering excess animals to reduce the need for stored feed through the winter when the land is not producing forage. Winter, at least in the northern US, is an excellent time for staying indoors and not doing much work, and meat doesn’t keep more than a few days without refrigeration, so possibly summer sausage was typically made in the fall and primarily eaten throughout the winter and spring when there were no other ready sources of meat.

Anyway, I also made another pleasant discovery, which is that cream cheese is sold in plastic tubs as well as in foil wrappers. I don’t know why this took me literally years to figure out when the tubs are next to the foil-wrapped blocks, but somehow I just went along complaining to myself about how bad the foil-wrapped blocks are as a distribution method and never though to look next to them.

After this happy discovery came another—there is a salmon version of the cream cheese made with real salmon. Salmon is by far my favorite fish and one of my favorite flavors, so I couldn’t resist trying it. I’m happy to say that it does in fact go well with summer sausage used like a cracker. If that sounds to you like it might be good, dear reader, then I recommend giving it a try. (Obviously, it’s not for everyone.)

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