By Lesley Latte*
Raymond Saucisson, the noted gourmand and long-time editor of Charcuterie Monthly, passed away unexpectedly yesterday. His close friend Stuart Campbell said that Saucisson’s death comes just a week after the publication of the anthology With Gusto!, for which the charcuterie supremo wrote an introduction. “I’m devastated,” said Campbell. “He was always at the cutting edge, as an editor and as a small goods expert; he was a man who took on life one huge slice at a time”.
Saucisson was born into poverty in Marseilles in 1945. He learned the art of sausage making from his mother, who sold her wares in the alleyways off Le Canebière. As a child Saucisson listened to the stories of the sailors who haunted the area, and in 1960 took a job as a ship’s cook.
After ten years at sea he jumped ship at London, eventually obtaining residence papers and gaining employment as a bus conductor with London Transport. Stuart Campbell remarks on the formidable standard of his English, considering he had virtually no formal education. “During his fifteen years on the buses he read voraciously: Georgette Heyer, The Times, Charles Dickens, The Beano, Thomas Hardy. He consumed everything that was left behind on a bus seat. The 142 to Watford Junction was his university, he once told me.”
In 1985 he was offered the editorship of Charcuterie Monthly. In a recent article he reflected on the magazine’s success: “A piece of writing is like a sausage. It has form, content, texture. And in the same fashion, what turns a quotidian article into an exceptional article is that inexpressible je ne sais quoi, the literary counterpart of a bead of glistening pork fat or a perfect balance of herbs.” His nephew Gilbert Saucisson will take over Raymond’s duties at Charcuterie Monthly.
With his trademark cravat, four-day stubble and haughty stare, Raymond Saucisson will be missed around the French markets that have become de rigueur among Sunday bruncheurs (a neologism of his own invention) from Aylesbury to Auckland.
Raymond Saucisson is survived by his wife Solange, an author of vegan cookbooks. “While our dietary tastes differed, we complemented one other perfectly like ham and peas. If he was my bubble, I was his squeak,” she said yesterday.
*Lesley Latte reserves the right not to disclose h** gender.
With Gusto! by the Write On! writers group is available in paperback here.
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