Sad to say, but the Cumberland sausage, one of the traditional foods that just about everyone would recognize, does not seem to have a very ancient history, probably dating from the end of the 18th century when the Lakes started to be a major tourist attraction. The tourists of Wordsworth ’s day probably enjoyed the solid and restorative Cumberland on their travels, and spread its fame beyond the region when they returned home.
The reason for the sausage being sold in great lengths – left in a long piece in Cumbria , but outside the area usually sold coiled – is unclear. The Cumberland is a hefty sausage, a good inch or more in diameter; and a meaty one too, with an absolute minimum of 80 per cent meat in its filling and some artisan versions just a couple of percentage points below being all meat.
The meat in this filing is all pork, and at best chopped by hand to ensure some texture is retained, and that no gristly bits remain. The flavourings used are foremost pepper, both black and white; then a little mace and nutmeg; and some have a touch of marjoram and sage in them too, though herbs should be just a mere background hint.
The sausage should be cut to length for cooking, rather than left in the coil sold by most shops. Although the Cumberland would not disgrace the breakfast table, it is more traditionally served as part of a midday meal with chips, peas and egg, and these days is a great standby for pub lunches.