When it comes to sausage, I’m drawing a line in the New Jersey sand.

“Anyone who wants a decent sausage, step across this line!”

A Texan in New Jersey soon learns that he’s going to have to adapt, and after living here for more two decades, I think I have adapted:

  • After three days I learned there was something called ziti.
  • After four days I learned to avoid it at all costs.
  • After six months I learned to look in my grocer’s refrigerator section to find the corn tortillas.
  • After two years I knew there really wasn’t any better option than Taco Bell for a bean burrito.
  • After 10 years I stopped searching for beef brisket, bought a smoker and started making my own.
Yeah, I cooked up this brisket and sausage myself. A lack of availability makes it a DIY project in New Jersey.

But like Col. William B. Travis at the Alamo, I’m drawing a line in the sand when it comes to sausage.

New Jersey, you know nothing about sausage, and I can sum up the problem in one word: Italians.

Now if there’s one thing you need to know about New Jersey, it’s that Italians are the predominant culture, and that’s fine as far as it goes, but paesan, you can keep your sausage!

Italian sausage sure looks pretty, but most Texans will be saying WTF???

I suppose Italian sausage has a place, like maybe in some gloopy tomato dish, or sliced on top of a pizza, but in any other usage, Texas sausage is vastly superior. That’s a pretty bold claim, but truth is, even New Jerseyans of Italian descent will admit it once they taste the difference, which rarely happens since most of ‘em have never been west of the Delaware.

A proper mess of Texas sausage will look something like this, though I generally like to give mine a bit more of a charred patina.

Here’s a story: Once upon a time I grilled up a yuuuge mess of Texas sausage and took it into work for some special occasion. Man, you would have thought it was feeding time at the zoo the way those yankees went for that sausage. In fact the only time I saw ’em move faster was the time somebody brought in a couple sacks of free bagels.

“Oh my god, this sausage is delicious!”

How did you cook this???”

“You mean there aren’t any tomatoes in that???”

“You have to give me the recipe!”

Truth is, I was embarrassed to give them the recipe because it really wasn’t a recipe at all. Just buy smoked sausage without Italian spices, throw it on the grill along with some onions and burn the hell out of it. That’s it, no barbecue sauce, and definitely no tomatoes!

But as simple as it is, the concept remains foreign in New Jersey, where the godless Italian sausage still rules, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the breakfast table. When I order breakfast at a New Jersey diner, the last thing I want to see nestled next to my scrambled eggs is a nasty Italian sausage, but invariably, that’s what I’ll get.

The problem is the spices . . . they’re all wrong! Why would you want thyme, oregano and fennel seed in your breakfast meat? Jesus wept! Why can’t these people understand that there’s more than one kind of sausage?

Bulk sausage patties for breakfast. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

When you order breakfast in Texas, they’ll dish it up right — bulk sausage patties like my Daddy always preferred, or a couple of links — and I guarandamntee you that neither product will have fennel seed in it.

Oh lord, I’m getting myself worked up just thinking about it!

Of course there are other sausage-y ways to strap on the feedbag in Texas. Biscuits and gravy, for example, will usually feature sausage gravy with bits of dead pig that were never within whistling distance of Italy. Then, of course, you could also order a chorizo and egg soft taco, but sitting here in my New Jersey living room, that’s a thought that is just making me depressed because it’s a concept that’s so foreign that it will probably never make it this far east … not enough fennel seed, I guess.

Biscuits and sausage gravy. Now that’s larrupin’!

Perhaps I should focus instead on the strides we’ve made over the last 20 years.

There was a time in New Jersey, believe it or not, when I couldn’t even find Dr Pepper, which is the National Drink of Texas (along with iced tea). It’s true. During those early years I’d ask my grocer, “Where’s the Dr Pepper,” and he’d reply, “What’s that?”

It was then that I realized I’d moved to the dark side of the moon. Fortunately the light has started to shine, because I can easily find Dr Pepper now.

But a decent breakfast sausage without fennel?  Fuhgeddaboudit!


Add yours →

  1. Real non italian sausage will always be one of my favorite foods. You taught me that when I was growing up, a very important life lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know if they do any mail order/shipping, but I have found a place in Rosenberg that makes the best sausage I’ve ever had. The guy’s name is Edwin F. Cernoch. I believe he’s of Czech origin. Don’t know if they have a web site or not but his number is 281.341.9571. Address is 3303 Klosterhoff Road, Rosenberg, Texas 77471. He runs the business out of his house and does catering, too. Try it. You’ll like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like thyme, oregano and fennel seed in sausage 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am from the northeast and whenever I get to go to Virginia, Texas, Indianapolis, it make me love this country even more and laugh at what peple who never leave don’t even know what they are missing

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My best recipes are the ones that aren’t recipes at all. You can’t be like ” this one is called, random shit I found in the fridge and cupboard”


  6. Ziti is not an exotic dish — it’s just pasta in a certain shape.


    • Yes, I was just being a little snarky with my post. Trying to think back 20 years to my first ziti exposure is kind of tough, but as I recall, I was more incredulous than anything else that people at a dinner where it was being served seemed to be going nuts over it, though it just seemed rather ordinary to me.


  7. I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. You can check it out here.

    Liked by 1 person

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