Brian Edwards Media

I’m firmly put in my place at the Westmere Butcher.


I suddenly had this yen for luncheon sausage. It was the sort of yen  I still occasionally get for a cigarette after a quarter of a century of not smoking. You’re suddenly taken unawares by some distant need, some powerful repressed impulse  that has fought its way up from the depths of your subconscious to confront you. ‘God, I’d love a cigarette.’ ‘I could kill for a piece of luncheon sausage.’

The cigarette yen is no problem. I used to know a very charming, urbane share broker called Alfie Des Tombe who could smoke just three cigarettes after dinner each night and that was that. I envied him but I could never be like him. I know that if I smoked one cigarette tonight, I’d hate the taste, probably choke on the smoke and feel quite nauseous. But within a week I’d be back to 20 a day. Where cigarettes are concerned I’m an addict and I’m not going to tempt fate.

As for the luncheon sausage yen, I really don’t know where it came from. Making kids’ lunches maybe in another life.  When they’d gone, the last piece, doused with HP sauce, rolled into a tube and down the hatch.  Or maybe in a white bread sandwich with a little salt and some hot English mustard. Divine!

Well, ‘divine’ in memory at least.  I had to have some luncheon sausage.  

I could find no luncheon sausage at the upmarket New World supermarket at Victoria Park. Maybe supermarkets didn’t sell luncheon sausage any more. Maybe nobody made luncheon sausage any more. Or maybe you could only get luncheon sausage from a butcher. I headed down West End Road and up the hill again to the Westmere Butcher.

The Westmere Butcher, you need to understand, isn’t just somewhere you go to buy meat; the Westmere Butcher is an Auckland institution. Its status, to use an overworked, but in this case entirely accurate epithet, is ‘iconic’. It is regularly voted Best Butcher in Auckland by Metro magazine. Its meat is of the highest quality and nothing is too much trouble for the army of butchers waiting behind the counters to serve you.

Their pork sausages are to die for.

‘Two dozen pork sausages please. Can you divide them into six lots of four. In plastic bags please. We pop them in the freezer and take four out when we feel like sausies for tea.’

‘Six lots of four pork sausages in plastic bags coming up. That be all?’

‘That’s all today thanks.’

The place is always packed. It was packed when I arrived on my luncheon sausage quest. Must have waited, oh, 90 seconds before the young woman behind the counter asked me what I wanted.

‘I was wondering if you had any luncheon sausage. Not even sure that any one makes it anymore.’

‘No!’ she snapped. ‘We don’t sell that sort of rubbish here.’

I don’t know if all the other customers eyes were on me at that moment or if a stunned silence actually descended on the shop. It felt like it.

‘What did he say?’

‘I’m not sure, but I think he asked for luncheon sausage.’

‘Oh my god, he didn’t, did he? Not luncheon sausage. Not at the Westmere Butcher. Is he mad?’

The young woman behind the counter was suggesting some alternative packaged meats with Italian sounding names, but I was already scuttling out of the shop, my tail between my legs. It would be all over Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay and Freemans Bay by tomorrow:

‘He asked for luncheon sausage.’


‘But that’s not the whole story.’

‘How do you mean – not the whole story?’

‘At the Westmere Butcher!’

‘Oh my god, you’re kidding.  And it was Brian Edwards?’

‘Irish. No class. No breeding.’

‘No taste!’

At Countdown I could have bought enough luncheon sausage to feed an army of waifs on their way to school.  Pork, Ham & Chicken and my personal favourite ‘Savoury Luncheon Sausage’ speckled with peas and carrots and other unspecified vegetable goodies. I bought 138 grams of the Ham and Chicken and 118 grams of the Savoury for a total of $1.59, went home and scoffed the lot with HP Sauce and Hot English Mustard. Not together of course. Gross but wonderful.

You know, I don’t think the young woman should have said, ‘We don’t sell that sort of rubbish here.’ Not out loud at least. In publicly branding what I was asking for  as rubbish, she was branding me, her customer, too as someone without judgement or taste. Kinda snobby really.  One doesn’t expect that in these parts.

Now, anyone for a chip butty?

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  1. That was rather snobby and downright rude!

    I can’t imagine a world without luncheon sausage. Every now and then it’s needed, preferably slathered with salad dressing and rolled into a tube.

    Chip butty… with lot’s of butter and vinegar please.


  2. No to the luncheon sausage. But chip butties? Now you’re talking.

  3. Nothing like chips between two slices of fresh white bread. You can get adventurous and add vinegar – heaven.

    Worrying though that luncheon is so cheap..

  4. Rolled In a tube, filled with home-made salad dressing (yes, the condensed milk & malt vinegar recipe) then squirted at your siblings! Oh summer picnic memories. Bliss.
    P.S. But definitely no Savoury- it had veges yuk!

  5. Just love it, Brian…what a good rave…you should do laconic humour more often…

  6. It’s OK Brian…we all get ‘the cravings’…God wouldn’t a whiskey and cigar be just bliss? But we don’t ’cause apparently we’ll kill ourselves!
    We get one turn on this earth so if it’s luncheon sausage, there is your personal path to perdition! It’s official, you are a depraved, physco-dependant, miscreant. Pass the sauce would you?

  7. I don’t even know if I want to comment just in case my name (thankfully no surname) gets connected with someone asking for lunch*** ****age.
    Brian, how could you?

  8. Down in the south it’s called ‘Belgium’…and the best ploy is to have a freebie given to the child…;)

  9. Yes Peter. Belgium sausage is how I remember it. And I have seen little kids being given a slice from the counter at Countdown recently.
    But I did hear of some silly old chap asking for “luncheon sausage” in an upmarket butcher in Auckland somewhere and getting a right royal fend off.
    Now had he shown a bit of Southern class and asked for some Belgium Sausage, then maybe…..

  10. fascinating

  11. Or a Cheerio for the toddler.
    And when you got home, a piece of Belgium cut like a smiley face. And some Chubs bread. [Dunedin]
    [I dream about a bowl of Kornies trapped in a bog of cream and topped with sliced bananas, brown sugar and sultanas; though I know that’s not what you are on about, sorry.]

  12. Now whatever happened to the “saveloy”?

    OBTW the etymologically inclined might like to trace Bologna, Bologonese, baloney links (pun intended). I suspect saveloy and belgium have similar histories.

    Watties made a fortune selling “tomato sauce” to
    make all of the above edible.

  13. I remember luncheon sausage, and having read your article, I want some. I don’t recall seeing it anywhere for a while. There was something called Black Pudding too, which I quite liked. Bugger – nothing in the house like that to eat at present. Will have a couple of ryvitas with cream cheese and vegemite. That might do. :)

  14. BE, I buy luncheon at New World College Hill most weeks for my kids, its available at the Deli.

  15. Just to make you feel better Brian, I shopped at the Westmere Butchery once and would never bother again. I thought the meat was not that good. They are up themselves.
    But then we Parnell types have Neat Meat on The Strand and a very good butcher shop in Gladstone Rd. But do they sell luncheon sausage?!!!

  16. You know, if I was addressed like that, I would’ve ordered a dozen different meats then offered to pay by way of a promisory note.

    If you really want luncheon sausage — a favourite school lunch sandwich — New World in Remuera sells it. Tell you what: if you’re over this neck of the woods, order at least 3kgs, then ask to speak to the deli manageress and tell her that you know me, and she’ll slip in an extra slice.

  17. Thank you Brian now my mouth is watering and it is only 6.30am. In Wellington woolworths supermarket used to sell a brand called Squirrel I think. It was fab. With my Mum’s homemade tomato sauce on white plastic bread. Divine.
    AND I love chip butties.

  18. Luncheon Sausage by any name is still as sweet. I too love the occasional pound or two of luncheon sausage, consumed with condiments in a grotesque private orgy, straight out of the paper.

  19. “Now whatever happened to the ‘saveloy’?”

    It’s still around. It’s sold in my local Pak n Save in both the meat section and the deli…but I’m not in Auckland.

    As for luncheon, I virtually grew up on the stuff. My mother would fry it…probably not the healthiest breakfast but I didn’t mind.

  20. Any business who treats their customers like that would never receive my custom.I m sorry we have no luncheon but can I interest you in …..

  21. ‘No!’ She snapped.’We don’t sell that sort of rubbish here.’

    ‘Well.’ I replied.’I notice on the outside of your building that you advertise that you sell haggis, and it just seemed logical to me, that if you sell that sort of rubbish, you may well sell luncheon sausage!’

  22. BE: Sorry Rupert. Even if intended to be light-hearted your comment is highly defamatory and certainly actionable. I’ve deleted it.

    JC: But I thought it was really funny!

  23. BE: Ben, I’ve deleted this comment. My post was reasonably light-hearted and your epithet is too strong for something that was just an off-the-cuff remark, albeit rather unfortunate.

  24. “There was something called Black Pudding too, which I quite liked.”

    Plenty of Black Pudding around. I recommend either the Blackball Salami Company’s pudding or Harrington’s Small Goods. Both will courier around the country if you can’t buy locally.

    The Blackball is the more traditional type of black pudding and the Harrington’s is more Scottish (according to a Scot chappie I know).

  25. I remember having luncheon sausage in Gisborne as a kid from Evans Bacon Company. I think the place still exists. It was consumed in large quantities for school lunches back then, with copious amounts of Watties tomato sauce on white bread. I think it used to be called Dominion sausage back then, although my relatives in the South Island used to call it Belgium sausage I think. A savoury delight for hard working families.

  26. The politics of product names….

    A number of German products were renamed at the time of the World War I. German sausage(s) became Belgian sausage or Polonies, German biscuits became Belgian Biscuits (mostly in New Zealand), and German Shepherd dogs became Alsatians.

    It’s quite possible it was also called Dominion sausage in New Zealand, as demonstrated by Wikipedia on the etymology of Belgian Biscuit:
    “The biscuit was originally known as the “Linzer Biscuit”, and later the “Duetch Biscuit”. With the outbreak of World War I it was renamed to Empire biscuit, except in Northern Ireland where it remains known as the German Biscuit and is commonly found with a jam and coconut topping. It is also known as the “Belgian biscuit”, due to being topped in a similar way to a Belgian bun made of pastry or dough.”

    BE: Fascinating. Thanks.

  27. as kids we used to bite holes in our luncheon to make eyes, nose, mouth. we’d stick our tongues through the mouth hole. foldy and fab for kids.

  28. I have a fondness for luncheon sausage that extends back to my days as a 7-year-old learning to swim at the Onehunga War Memorial pools, way back in the late 1950s.

    After our swimming lesson, my dad would buy my sister and me a toasted sandwich with the luncheon sausage lightly spread with tomato sauce. It was always cut, diagonally, and delicious.

    Those of us old enough to remember, will recall the butcher shop on the corner of Greenland and Gt. South Rds (where now stands McDonald’s); when my mum ordered some meat from there. The kindly butcher would give me a generous end off-cut of luncheon sausage and I always enjoyed peeling off the thin red wrapper. in those days, the luncheon was always sliced with the wrapper still on, so you had to peel off the thin circular plastic bit.

    Of late, because times are hard for us and I can’t afford the price of a Christmas ham, I make do with buying a whole luncheon roll. We all gather around and jolly-up a festive spirit, and decorate it by substituting cloves for raisins, use pineapple chunks, and baste it using sachets of marmalade jam — taken from a café’s — and “bake” it, ever so slightly, over a pop-up toaster. Of course it’s not as nice as the real thing. But by using our imagination, it becomes our ersatz Christmas ham, and it is served with freeze-dried mashed potatoes cooked in our microwave. Yum (sort of).

    BE: Mouth-watering comment. Thank you.

  29. Luncheon is awesome.

    I first was served up with it at 4 years of age, and I never looked back.

    IMO, the pre-packaged stuff at Countdown is the best (yes, all kinds taste different), with the ‘budget’ roll also worth an honorable mention.

    Leaves a very small footprint than other snacks, like sandwiches, etc.

  30. I believe it was originally called german sausage till General bill massey got NZ into WW1. Then it became Belgian sausage. As Belgian doesn’t mean much these days some some plonker must have dreamed up “luncheon”! Ah what memories! SEGG – alledgedly made from steak and eggs! Posh butchers will have Mortadella! (expensive Eytie muck with? god knows what in them probably made in Australia of which “savoury” is a Kiwi version) Island Bay butchery – best Saveloys! White pudding available in Wgtn also – Boudin Blanc to the edjimikated!) (see belgian biscuits!)

  31. @Dazza. Hallenstein Brothers became HB and dachshund became sausage dog – and here we are back at German sausages!

  32. I’ve always known it as belgium and there is still plenty of choice in the supermarkets in Dunedin (even though it’s called various foreign names, sometimes luncheon). My current favourite is 95% fat free (don’t know if it’s got more of a name than that).

    My only gripe with belgium was round shape didn’t fit the slice properly, I used to cut shapes to fill the gaps.

    My childhood butcher gave us have a saveloy, I don’t remembere cheerios and I didn’t know about palonies until I lived in Auckland (some places also sold saveloys which were a different shade of red).

    If I’d known the history I mightn’t have been so keen:
    1830–40; probably < French cervelas, Middle French cervelat < Italian cervellato Milanese sausage, orig. containing pig's brains, equivalent to cervell ( o ) brain ( see cerebellum)

    The better saveloys still use sheep intestine for skins rather than modern plastic.

  33. TThrash Cardiom “There was something called Black Pudding too, which I quite liked.”

    Mmmmm… black pudding… *best Homer Simpson-style salivation*

    Perhaps, to be charitable, the young lady was trying to show pride in her work and products… but it came out the wrong way?!

    Mmmmm… black pud…

    If I’d been her employer and heard the comment, I’d’hv had a word to her after work, and said,

    “Spirit of Pride – top marks! Can’t fault it!

    Method of delivery – needs a bit of polish. I would’ve said…”

    Sometimes all it takes is for a bit of extra on-the-job training.

    God, I could do with some black pudding… fried onions… tomatoes… some eggs… Damn, there goes my current attempt to shed one or two or twenty kgs, this year…

  34. Evans Luncheon Sausage – Gisborne – in a chub. A family trdition.
    Would you like me to send you some B & J ?
    They do a mean black pudding too.

    BE: A kind offer, CJ, but luncheon sausage by mail? Perhaps not.

  35. Ah, food as a front in the class war. Welcome to the Westmere butchery, purveyor of fine good to the class conscious middle class of Westmere and surrounding suburbs. Perhaps you should have politely enquired after some Belgian sausage or perhaps Devon Sausage or even some Bologna sausage, these all being the same thing as luncheon sausage. A local butcher would be unlikely to stock luncheon sausage, as they lack the equipment to produce it. Basically, luncheon sausage is made from the mechanically separating the last scraps of meat from processed carcasses. This is done by using high pressure to force all material that isn’t bone through a sieve. The resulting paste is treated in various ways, can have fat and other products (like vegetables) added/removed and is then produced in the rolls we see in the supermarket. This sort of industrialised food production upsets the snobs who infest places like the Westmere butchery. These people are acutely aware of food as a symbol of class and therefore of wanting to separate their sources of protein from the sources of protein consumed by the poorer sorts.

    Funnily enough, a vegetarian friend of mine linked to this today on facebook – which is an excellent example of the sort of nonsense and fear mongering that the middle class seems strangely eager to embrace.
    The linked site is ridiculous and incorrect for NZ anyway. In NZ MAF reports “MSM (mechanically separated meat) is produced regularly from carcass frames following the removal of portions and breast meats from the carcasses.” You can buy chicken frames at the supermarket, get one and check it out. No eyes or gizzards. The stuff about ammonia hydroxide is pure scare mongering. Thousands of products use it as an anti-bacterial agent. Ammonia in some form is used in baked goods, cheeses, chocolates, other confectionery, puddings, condiments, relishes, snack foods, jams and jellies, and non-alcoholic beverages. It has been safely used since the early 1970s, and is particularly effective against E.Coli.

    But none of that will stop a shop assistant being a foolish snob in Westmere.

  36. Luncheon sausage! Terrible ghastly stuff, Brian. All processed meats are bad, but this one is especially evil as kids are nurtured on it. Little more than compacted bread held together with a cocktail of preservatives. The meat flavour is imparted by yet another chemical, and the whole thing’s finished off with truckloads of salt, primarily sodium nitrite, virtually guaranteed to give you cancer of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, bladder or brain. Probably each one in turn. The stuff is bad for all of us, but for a diabetic doubly so. Avoid at all costs.

  37. “the stuff is bad for all of us”
    the richer you are, the choosier you can be. but you may miss alot of fun and food antics cos luncheon is pretty versatile. the large size thin sliced can be rolled into a pretend cigarette, you can mop up extra tomato sauce with it, fold in into a matchbox size, peel it round and round to see who makes the longest thread.
    all this while living on the dangerous edge, it seems.

  38. be@ luncheon sausage… should really become a vegan… would fit in fine…

    ..did you know there are 19 different tribes of vegan..?

    ..and some of those tribes use the vegetarian/vegan sausages/patties you scurry past in the supermarket..

    ..(perhaps curling a lip..?..)

    ..and i have found that the one thing they all share.. that same tone/timbre/textures/tastes of the mystery-dip-meat versions you prefer…

    ..but with none of the health implications found there…

    ..(and yes..they also issue little welcoming cries at the looming bottle of tom-sauce/w.h.y..)

    ..what’s not to love..?


  39. and i drive past that westmere butcher with my own curling lip…

    ..the sneer of the ex-addict…


  40. @ Sanctuary: “This sort of industrialised food production upsets the snobs who infest places like the Westmere butchery’

    Most of the houses in Westmere are ex-stateies; certainly, on the Pt Chev. side of Garnet Rd.
    Westmere is where the poor folks used to live; it’s come up a bit, but not no where near the level to be described as snobbish.
    I thought, the colour of the shop was to reflect the working-class origins of that suburb — blue.

  41. I won’t shop at the Westmere Butcher. When they started they made out they were an organic butcher. I notice their sign has now been changed from ‘organic’ to ‘quality’. About time but I think it has created an impression that their products are better than they actually are.

  42. I used to swap my luncheon sausage sammies with another girl, for her Louise Cake – she wasn’t allowed luncheon sausage and my mum had little time to bake. Funnily enough, we both thought we got the better deal…

  43. [Can’t be bothered reading the above comments…]

    There’s an entire section of the ‘deli’ fridge at Pak n Save Lincoln North dedicated to luncheon. Me thinks you need to shop somewhere, you know, a little less middle class… :P

  44. Was it not that luncheon sausage was on the menu the cause of a strike by guests of Her Majesty a year or so back? Their grounds being it was inappropriate fare for the incarcerated?

    I can only assume the Westmere Butcher must have deduced that because luncheon sausage was evidently infra dig, even for guests of HM, then it must not be sold at his upmarket establishment.