It lurks under the onions: The UK Sausage Festival starts off with a banger for Esther Oxford

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The Independent Culture
WHEN Chris turns up at his street grill, parked on the pavement in Camden Town, he tries not to look at the pink, plump sausages he is selling to the great British public.

Each banger is wrapped in a sheet of grease-proof paper. He removes it, then chucks on raw onion to create 'the smell'. This is what you and I breath in when we walk out of that cinema or that theatre or that club at 3am. It's the smell of fat and unexpected artificial things, the smell of the City Sausage.

A City Sausage with onions and roll costs pounds 1.60. Chris says he doesn't know how much he pays for them but reluctantly guesses at 10p a sausage. He says he sells anywhere from 40 to 120 a day, and many of his customers are regulars. 'The sausages are especially popular for breakfast,' he says. 'I like them with plenty of onions, chilli and mustard.'

George Thompson, 40, is from Northern Ireland. 'The other day I bought a sausage from Chris,' he says. 'It was my first in six months. It didn't have beef in it. It was tasteless. I just stuffed it down.'

Strolling past is Peter Ogi, 52, a taxi driver from Ghana. 'I like the sausages as long as they are not made from pork. I am a Muslim,' he explains, adding: 'The secret to enjoying sausages is to put in lots of flavourings - pepper, olive oil.'

Huddled next to the grill is Radovan Karagic (sic), 26, a Serb who prefers not to say where he lives. 'Why don't I eat English sausages?' he asks.

'Because they are made with cats and dogs] 'All your 'fresh' British meat is frozen meat from four or five years ago.

Come to Serbia if you want fresh meat.'

CITY SAUSAGE: Cost of sausage: 3p.

Ingredients: 50 per cent meat - any meat, usually MRM (mechanically removed meat) - 'beast's lips', 'trimmings off the head' and chicken skin - plus fat, rusks, synthetic flavouring, synthetic skin and permitted chemicals.

Fat content: up to 40 per cent. Water content: up to 30 per cent.

Tricks of the trade: Spray-on flavourings (known as 'seasoning').

Nasty surprises to be found inside: frozen beef from 1987.

Not to be sold to: the Prince of Wales, who says, 'I have developed a taste for additive-free sausages which contain only the best natural ingredients.'

BUTCHER'S SAUSAGE: Cost of sausage: 9p Ingredients: more than 65 per cent good-quality meat, rusks (wheat flour), natural seasoning, natural gut (stomach), water.

Varieties: 400 plus.

Total UK sausage consumption: 300,000 tonnes a year, worth pounds 557m.

Most devoted sausage lover: the Queen - Harrods pork sausages provide a thankful alternative in the royal luggage.

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