The sausage sizzle is a uniquely Australian piece of culinary tradition which can be sampled at school fetes, in parks and outside shopping centres and bottle shops. Last time I had to vote, there was even one outside the polling station for crying out loud.

Sausage sizzles are mainly held as a fundraising activity because they're cheap and easy to run. Every weekend without fail I can follow the smell of frying onions and barbecuing snags to the closest Scout troop, Lions Club or Rotary stakeout. There they'll be, milling around the rusty barbie from a volunteer's back shed and the card table loaded with no-brand bread and paper napkins, one or two stationed on the lookout for council health inspectors.

So what can you expect to get for $1-2? You get a piece of sliced bread, a barbecued sausage, some onion if you so desire, and some tomato sauce. How's that for a bargain!

I know it sounds deceptively simple, but what I haven't explained is what makes these damn sausages so appealing. Imagine yourself in a shopping centre. It's a Saturday afternoon. You've been walking for hours looking for that perfect birthday present/pair of shoes/sexy yet not slutty shirt for going out later that evening. So have 8,000 other people, along with every screaming child one city can produce. You've had enough, you're tired, hungry, fed up with the stench of department store perfume counters and macho guys who think deodorant is for pussies.

As you drag your weary feet towards the exit, gentle wafts of deliciously scented smoke float through the automatic doors. You sniff, your stomach rumbles and your heart flutters at subconscious memories of that first kiss you shared at your neighbour's pool party one summer's day many moons ago. As you approach, the musical sizzle of hot fat sings your name, and you are mysteriously drawn to the smiling volunteers who wave hello at you with their tongs. You figure it's only a dollar, it's going to a good cause, and oh boy those sausages look fantastic, and the next thing you know, you're walking to your car, juggling your shopping bags, a sausage in bread in one hand, tomato sauce slowly running down your wrist, and you find yourself smiling.

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