This is true but I can’t blame you for wondering how sausages could possibly save lives. Well, admittedly I’m going back a few hundred years here but the fact is that yes, a humble sausage saved hundreds if not thousands of lives. I’ll explain…
In the latter part of the 1400s, Jews living in Portugal were given a choice – either convert to Christianity or get out of the country. Not quite as bad a Hitler admittedly, but being forced to leave your country because of your religion or race is not fun exactly. So many people just pretended to convert. That’s probably what I would have done, I think.
But there was a sneaky way that they were giving the game away. Jews don’t eat pork, of course, and all the local sausages were made using that meat. The fact that the Jews, who had supposedly converted, had no sausages in their smokehouses and were never seen to buy or eat sausage tended to give the game away.
So the Portuguese had a simple solution. They created the alheira – now one of Portugal’s treasured national dishes – which featured no pork at all but the meat content was beef and therefore perfectly kosher and well within Jewish dietary restrictions.
Sometimes other meats including poultry and game were and are used to make the sausages. For those interested in the history of food, don’t miss enjoying alheiras when you visit Portugal.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.