Louis Vincent Palliere renders in bright colors the infamous Slaughter of the Suitors” by Odysseus and Telemachus, note those gorgeous capes tripping hues between orange and red. I love cooking sausages. All sorts of sausage. Beef, chicken, lamb and pig; andouille, bloedwurst, boudin, bratwurst, chorizo, hot dogs, kielbasa, knackwurst, linguiça, longaniza, merguez, morcilla, saucisson, soppressata, weisswurst.
I like to buy fresh sausage from Revival Market.
I like to sweat sausage in butter.
I like to smoke sausage with fish.
I like to boil sausage with corn, potatoes and shrimp.
I like to grill sausage with pig tails and shrimp.
I like to simmer it with greens and potatoes.
Sauté with Brussel sprouts, onions and potatoes.
I like to plate sausage with a hill of vegetables in the center.
I like to serve sausage inside loaded, toasted bread slices.
I like to serve sausage in bowls.
And then just sausage on a plate.
I also like murder. No, I love murder in Greek epic poems and tragedies, Russian novels, Agatha Christie novels, Edgar Allan Poe short stories, German fairy tales, Martin McDonagh plays, and Baudelaire poetry. My two predilections unite in Homer’s Odyssey. Sausages (or blood-puddings, or ‘paunches full of blood and fat’ as more literal translators call them) figure occasionally as food. But they also pop and fizzle their way into a simile that describes Odysseus’ behaviour the night before he slaughters his wife Penelope’s suitors, which Peter Green translates like this:
As a man cooking a paunch chockful of fat and blood
on a fierce blazing fire will turn it to and fro,
determined to get it cooked through as fast as he can,
so Odysseus tossed this way and that, trying to work out
how he was going to lay hands on the shameless suitors,
one man against so many.
Odysseus has returned to Ithaca disguised as a beggar–a cooker and eater of sausages. And as Odysseus reputation runs in the Iliad, the “wily-one” attempts to make deliberative inaction into the heroic.
‘Be strong, my heart. You were
hounded by worse the day the Cyclops ate
your strong companions. But you kept your nerve,
till cunning saved you from the cave; you thought
that you would die there.’
Slave girls serve prime cuts of his pigs and cattle to the suitors. Should he kill the slave girls immediately or allow them one more night of food and bed? As he swallows sausage, so he works down his anger. Odysseus writhes, waiting for murder and revenge to occur; again, like a cooker of sausage, except here, Odysseus is the sausage as he struggles with thoughts of killing. Don’t we all. Oh yes, murder in the songs of Nick Cave. Bon Appétit!