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A saveloy is a type of highly seasoned sausage, usually bright red, normally boiled and often available in British fish and chip shops, especially in London, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Newcastle, Stoke-on-Trent and the Midlands. It is occasionally also available fried in batter. Saveloys are eaten in a "Sav Dip" sandwich: the bun is dipped in the water which the saveloy is boiled in or in gravy, with a layer of stuffing and pease pudding, additionally seasoned with English mustard.
The word is believed to be derived from Middle French cervelas or servelat, originating from Old Italian cervellato ('pigs brains'), ultimately from the Latin cerebrus ('brain'). Its first known use in the English language in this meaning was 1784.
Cervellato is still the name of a sausage in Italy - it is longer and thinner than standard Italian sausages.
Although the saveloy was traditionally made from pork brains, the ingredients of a shop-bought sausage are typically pork (58%), water, rusk, pork fat, potato starch, salt, emulsifiers (tetrasodium diphosphate, disodium diphosphate), white pepper, spices, dried sage (sage), preservatives (sodium nitrite, potassium nitrate), and beef collagen casing.
The saveloy is mostly eaten with chips.
Australia and New Zealand
The saveloy is eaten in Australia and New Zealand, often sold at fairs, fêtes, agricultural shows and sporting events, served deep fried in batter known as a battered sav. At the turn of the 20th century, the saveloy was described in an Australian court case as a "highly seasoned dry sausage originally made of brains, but now young pork, salted" but by the mid-century, it was commonly defined by its size as a 19 cm sausage, as opposed to a frankfurt at 26 cm. This distinction may be due to the frankfurt's popularisation (as an ingredient of hot dogs). Despite "frankfurt" sausage makers being the target of violence in World War I, the story that saveloys were once frankfurts, renamed due to anti-German sentiment, is purely apocryphal, as far as Australia is concerned.
In Australia, saveloys are usually a beef-pork blend. In New Zealand, saveloys are usually a lamb-pork-beef blend (which distinguishes them from frankfurters which are a pork-beef blend.) As in England, they are sold at fish-and-chip shops, and bought to be simmered at home. Saveloys are known colloquially in both countries as "savs". They are often the basis of the New Zealand battered-sausage-on-a-stick "hot dog", equivalent to a US corn dog, often sold at fairgrounds and public events. The Australian version is often called a "dagwood dog" or "pluto pup". Another Australian variant, the "battered sav", while not as common as it once was, used wheat flour batter with no corn in the mixture and, like its English counterpart, was sold in fish-and-chip shops and had no stick. In South Australia up to at least the 1960s "sav and roll" was popular football fare especially at country matches; it was a saveloy heated in a wood-fired copper (boiler) placed in a split bread roll and liberally covered with tomato sauce.
A cocktail sausage is a smaller version of the saveloy, about a quarter of the size—in Australia sometimes called a "baby sav", a "footy frank" or a "little boy", and in New Zealand and Queensland called a "cheerio." These are a popular children's party food in New Zealand and Australia, often served hot with tomato sauce.
In The Pickwick Papers (Chapter LV) Solomon Pell, an attorney at the Insolvent Court, is described as "regaling himself, business being rather slack, with a cold collation of an Abernethy biscuit and a saveloy". Saveloy is also eaten by Fagin in Oliver Twist., and it also appears in the 1968 musical film based on the novel, directed by Carol Reed, when it is mentioned in the number "Food, Glorious Food." A saveloy is passed from Paul McGann's character (I) to Withnail and subsequently to Danny in Bruce Robinson's 1987 film Withnail and I.
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- "Hot Dog is Favourite American Sandwich" in the Centralian Advocate, 26 October 1951, p. 12
- "Exciting Night in Sydney" in Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, NSW, 28 November 1915, p. 1
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- Charles Dickens. The Pickwick Papers.
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