The first written and oral records of this sausage suggest that it was already produced in Valais at the beginning of the 20th century. It is probable that the recipe dates farther back, but there is little information about this because its production predominantly took place at a household level, within families who would slaughter and butcher animals in the home.
Sausages had many different names according to the place in which they were produced and the variations in their ingredients: Some of them were Siederli, Hauswurst (in the Haut Valais region), Frazte, or Saucisse de meìnage (in the Bagnes valley or Lower Valais). The sausages of Valaise are a large family and they are distinguished by being either fat or lean. The former were always in highest demand and were very flavorful; they were made of beef, pork, and lard, and then aged. The lean sausages were made with offal and the vegetables that were in season and available at the time the pig was killed: cabbage, leek, red turnips, and onions. Sometimes blood was added to give color. Different sources–Basil Luyet in L’Art Culinaire à Savièse (1929) or Willy Gyr, the author of Le Val Danniviers–state that in the Val d’Anniviers, the sausages made from beef contained all the parts of the animal that could not be eaten in any other form (lungs, liver, diaphragm, spleen, kidney) and were cooked before consumption.
In Valais, an area so strongly influenced by the Catholic religion, which required people to fast on Fridays and during Lent, lean sausages that included vegetables were commonly eaten, even if they were not as highly appreciated as fatty sausages. The sausages from Saas, which had very little meat and evidently were quite rich in vegetables, were commonly joked about and it was said that “if they were planted, they would grow,” or that “they weren’t meat, because they were made with almost only vegetables.” In Valais it is probable that the lean variation, the Fratze, was produced more often than the fat version, at least until the Second World War. The habit then changed when the availability of fatty pork meat increased, to the point that the lean version had practically disappeared by the 60s and 70s. All of the sausages available commercially today are fat, even if the practice of adding some vegetables has been taken up again, in order to improve the flavor and to give the product some character.
Today, the recipe for the Fratze sausage, which is available from a few local butchers, includes 50% beef and pork meat in variable proportions, around 25% pork lard, and the remaining 25% contains offal, skin, cooked vegetables (cabbage, sometimes leek and onions), salt, and spices. In Isérable, it is possible to find a version with red beetroots; this sausage has a distinctive ring shape and is usually eaten cooked, though it can also be left to dry and then consumed raw. The Fratze sausage is similar to the sausages made with cabbage from Vaud, though they do not contain beef. Fratze sausages are usually consumed in autumn (especially during the Fiore du Lard, the first Monday of December in Martigny). They are cooked in hot water (70°C, not boiling) and eaten together with the so-called diner de saleí, which consists of prosciutto, lard, sauerkraut, and turnip or kohlrabi chutney.
To promote the Fratze sausage, Slow Food Valais-Wallis organizes a night dedicated to this specialty, during which diners taste various artisanal sausages and elect “the king of Fratze.”