It is a rising trend (if we may properly label it as such): more and more people want to know where their food comes from and how it is made. The need for organic and original food products is on the rise as more and more individuals begin to take their health seriously. A Canadian-based master sausage maker, Drews Driessen, understands and practices authenticity through his craft. We had the opportunity to talk to him about the history of his company, the perfect season to eat specific meats, and of course, sausage.
Tell us about the history of D-Original Sausage Co.
Being a sausage maker and self proclaimed steward of better sausages, I gave up on trying to educate sausage companies on questions of honesty, integrity, and responsibility. “Back to the roots,” have my own company, and “live what I preach” were the cornerstones that I wanted to have as the foundation. Being a sausage maker of 40+ years helped in the realization, two fires including the epic Main Street fire next door didn’t. My long time friend and partner Helmut, who sadly and suddenly passed away, deserves all the credit in finding the motivation and strength to continue. The history of D-original Sausage Company, although short, is full of drama. That may be what makes us uncompromising and drives us to be better.
The company is drenched in history—five generations to be exact. What are the most important principles you were taught?
Five generations making sausages requires more than just principles. Spanning two wars, making sausages is part of our identity; it is a proud heritage. Principles that we follow today are the “good advice” handed down from our fathers. I remember when my Grandpa visited my father in his shop and “Opa” said: “Listen up, this salami aging room needs a little fresh air. Salami won’t be comfortable in a room in which man can’t.” The lesson here simply is to treat your product with the respect it deserves and that is one of our principles.
What is D-Original’s philosophy on quality meats?
When I ask the question, “What is the most important flavor in making sausages,” people think of pepper, mace, or others. We think of the one ingredient that amounts to more than any other, MEAT. Good meat, good sausages.
The company offers sausage from Italy, Latin America, Spain, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. What is the decision process like and why meat from these places?
North America knows Hot Dogs, wieners, smokies, and maybe one or two more. They were made to believe that a chicken and a turkey wiener are variety and choice. Germany alone has 1,500 different sausage varieties not counting regional differences. Now imagine throwing Italy, Spain, France, et cetera into the mix.
Are any of the sausages seasonal only?
Yes, of course. Some sausages are traditionally consumed during winter, summer, or through a specific growing season.
Can you give an example of a sausage that would be consumed in winter and one in summer?
Traditionally, hogs would be butchered at the beginning of winter. One reason was, as you can imagine, the colder weather. The other, on a lot of the smaller farms, leaner times were ahead and they did not need an extra hungry mouth to feed. Preserving meats is a difficult task and taking care of the more sensitive cuts was of course an immediate necessity. Liver sausages and head cheeses would be the first to go. Salamis and dry cured hams needed time to develop and age. These would be consumed months and months later. In some cases years, giving time to the prosciutto to properly mature and elevating it from just “food” to becoming a delicacy. A typical winter dish would be pan fried liver and blood sausages, rich and nutritious (not to forget the apple sauce) whereas the summer would be salami and other preserved cuts (with a glass of vine, oh the joy).
How important is authenticity to the company?
As close as possible. The raw materials available and used by sausage makers around the world however are mostly born and grown right there. We do not claim to be as or even more authentic than those. We do however stick closely to the traditional production parameters, flavor profiles, and appearances. As a result, we have French or Italian customers that smuggle our sausages home when on a visit to their home country upon request from friends and family. Although probably not legal, it does make us smile. (Sorry.)
What are a few of D-Originals Sausage Co.’s goals?
Tell the story of sausage making history and keep it alive, one sausage at a time.