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Sausage is a ground meat product, usually spiced, often smoked, pickled or boiled, and sometimes packed in casings. Sausage is a natural outcome of efficient butchery. There will always be small bits of meat and animal parts that are edible, but not particularly appealing as they stand, such as organ meats or blood. Such ingredients can be efficiently used to make sausage or other ground meat products.

Perhaps the best example of how sausage utilizes less appealing parts of the animal is head cheese, a simple sausage made of roughly chopped meat from the head -- lips, ears, snout, cheeks -- spiced and bound together by gelatin (also made from otherwise inedible animal parts).

Other simple sausages, such as Italian sausage, are made by grinding meat and animal parts, mixing in spices, and packing it in a casing, traditionally reusing the intestines of the animal, but now more often cellulose tubing. This model also serves for the hot dog, pepperoni, kielbasa, Braunschweiger and many lunch meat products, such as bologna, Lebanon bologna (from Lebanon, Pennsylvania), salami, and summer sausage.

Spices, smoking, and casings all contribute to making the sausage easier to store, although not all sausages will keep.

Other sausages, such as American country sausage, are simply ground and spiced meat.

Irish and English sausages, or bangers, normally have a significant amount of rusk, or bread crumbs, and are less meaty than sausages from other countries. The skinless meat is served as sausage meat, which can be fried or used as a stuffing for poulty, or a wrapping for foods like Scotch eggs. Bangers are also used to make toad in the hole.

Sausages may be used as an entre, in a sandwich (when in a bread roll, as a hot dog), or as an ingredient in other dishes, such as stews and casseroles.

Every nation and every region has its characteristic sausages, using the meats and spices native to the region and employed in traditional dishes. Some sausages are of great antiquity, among the oldest of prepared foods.

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"People who enjoy eating sausage and obey the law should not watch either being made" -
Otto von Bismarck

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