I love Black Pudding. There will be unfortunate finickity and squeamish individuals out there who will take one look at this post, and want to run for the hills; so my mission this sunny October morning is to try and covert them to the cause.
It's like that Scottish favourite, Haggis, which actually tastes a bit like a spicy American meatloaf. Yes, the preparation sounds, and probably is gothic; but the taste and result is something to be recommended.
So, let's get the gothic part out of the way: how is Black Pudding made? What exactly is Black Pudding?
It's a sausage made from the blood of a pig. The blood is then cooked with a variety of ingredients, which could include goodies such as suet, oatmeal, milk, onions, breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.
Cooking the blood in these ingredients will make the blood congeal, and hey presto! you have a black pudding; or blood pudding in America, blutwurst in Germany, boudin noir in France, and white pudding in Ireland. You eat it for breakfast.
I cook mine very gently in a knob of butter for a few minutes on each side. In Britain, Black Pudding tends to be a local speciality of the northern counties such as Lancashire, but in fact, similar puddings are found all over the world.
I'm going to take this opportunity to have a little rant about the reputation and state of British Food. Okay, we now have some top-notch (and fiendishly expensive) restaurants in London; and generally the standard of food in Britain is better than it was in the post-war period of rationing, spam fritters, and dried eggs.
But the tradition of cooking food at home, especially the local tradition, has been lost. Many of the old-fashioned British classics, are similar- if not identical- to dishes you can find in the French Countryside. They make Moules Mariniere, we have Devon Mussels in Cider. They make Boudin Noir, we have Lancashire Black Pudding, they make Boeuf Bourginon, we have Beef in Guinness with Dumplings.
The difference is that your typical French grandmother will have a whole list of local specialities up her sleeve- and she will know how to prepare them with love and attention. In Britain, granny is far more likely to be found slumped in front of East Enders eating Sainsbury's Chicken Tikka Masala Surprise straight from the packet. Look at our food shops. In France, you will find endless small corner shops selling wonderful selections of beautifully presented ingredients. Like this boulangerie in Paris, pictured above.
In Britain we have er- the supermarket (with, in my opinion, pretty dire stocking policies), and miserable corner shops selling dusty tins of this and that at inflated prices. And look at the amazing selection of foods you can find in New York delis! Fantastic! Rant over.