Merguez // is a red, spicy mutton- or beef-based fresh sausage in Amazigh (Berber) North African cuisine. It is also popular in the Middle East and Europe, having become particularly popular in France by the closing decades of the twentieth century.
Merguez is a sausage made with uncooked lamb, beef, or a mixture stuffed into a lamb-intestine casing. It is heavily spiced with cumin and chili pepper or harissa (which gives it its characteristic piquancy and red color) as well as other spices such as sumac, fennel, and garlic.
The word was borrowed by French in the 19th century from the Amazigh (Berber) مرقاز mirqāz or مركاز mirkāz "sausage"; the hesitation between k and q probably reflecting the pronunciation /ɡ/, for which there is no standard Arabic spelling; further confusing matters is that in some maghrebi dialects, Arabic qāf is pronounced as /ɡ/, either exclusively or as an allophone of /q/. It is first attested in Andalusian Arabic in the 12th century, as mirkās or merkās. One author connects the word to the Spanish morcilla or morcon.
- Davidson, Alan, "Merguez", Oxford Companion to Food (1999), p. 497. ISBN 0-19-211579-0
- Ch. Pellat, "Mirkās", Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition.