Wednesday, 24 August 2011

One kabano, two ...?

A third Salisbury-related post: I was pleased to find, on the road from the railway station to the city centre, a superb Polish delicatessen called Taste the World that sells genuine kabanosy. This is the famously delicious cured and smoked sausage: dry, faintly chewy, and flavoured with just a touch of pepper, nutmeg and caraway seed.

A year or two ago I was embarrassed on realising that for the 30+ years since I first encountered it, I'd got the name wrong. Not knowing about plurals in Slavic languages, I'd thought it was one kabano (i.e. kəbɑnəʊ), two kabanos; when it's actually one kabanos (kæbənɒs), two kabanosy. There's a saying, misattributed to Bismarck, that "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made", and the EU document Publication of an application pursuant to Article 8(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 509/2006 on agricultural products and foodstuffs as traditional specialities guaranteed (an application for the name "kabanosy" to be granted traditional speciality status) rather does that.  It is, however, enlightening about the etymology:

The name expresses the specific character of the product. In 19th century Poland and Lithuania the term "kaban", or the diminutive form "kabanek", referred to extensively reared young hogs which used to be fattened mainly with potatoes, and the meat they produced was customarily called "kabanina". "Kabanos" is derived from the name used to designate these hogs.

There's a different sausage, cabanossi, typically made in Germany and Austria, whose texture is generally rather more like a light salami (for British readers: it's like Matteson's Smoked Pork Sausage - the Australian equivalent is called cabana or kabana). There is some overlap of styles, though; some cabanossi, such as the Greisinger brand sold by Waitrose, are much closer to kabanosy in flavour and texture. "Cabanossi" appears to be a very recent word; along with "kabanossi", it first turns up in Austria in the 1970s.  The German Wikipedia's etymology for "cabanossi" goes into rather laboured explorations of it being named after a ship's cabin or hut.  At the risk of leaping to a false cognate, to me it seems much more likely that "cabanossi" is just a straight phonetic import of "kabanosy" from Polish.

- Ray

1 comment:

  1. In mid 19th central Europe, Kabanos/Cabanos also seems to be a type of cigar, see eg the Austrian stats service and a Czech mag. A brief look suggests that it's not their version of the Cuban Cabañas brand, but rather raw product that came in through Bremen or wherever. There must be jokes somewhere about the guy who smoked a sausage, or his friend who ate a cigar.