‘l’ll have one of those discs of fried pig’s blood please, no, make it two’

Food Month Food Court: Black pudding is Gerard Maguire’s desert island food, but for Bernice Harrison, it’s just not on the menu

 

FOR: Gerard Maguire

Black pudding (boudin noir in France and morcilla in Spain) was recently heralded, somewhat questionably, as a superfood. The honour was bestowed because of its high protein and iron content.

However, I select the morcilla version as my desert island grub, not for its nutritional benefits but for its flavour and flexibility. Some of the regional Spanish versions of black pudding are my favourites. The ones from León and Extremadura tend toward a wetter style, without rice or oatmeal.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the perfect Irish black pudding, for me, as we kill the texture and fail to develop the flavour by adding bran or oatmeal, and fail to add enough spices such as paprika, onion or cumin.

It is such a dynamic product, but one we sadly see mostly on a big fry-up in Ireland. I use it as a garnish on soups, with scallops, in mashed potato, a spicier version from Asturias in hearty stews, in winter salads with root veg. I serve it with pork and pureed apple, use it to make potato cakes, and with an array of easy tapas.

Superfood, or just a great food, either way it is hugely under-rated and sadly, in my opinion, there is no butcher in Ireland delivering on its full potential.

AGAINST: Bernice Harrison

You have to admire the plain-speaking Swedes with their blodpudding, the Dutch and their bloedwors, and the Italians with their sanguinaccio. No tasty euphemisms for our pragmatic European neighbours, no calling a sausage which is made of blood by the quaintly anonymous, reality denying, “black pudding”.

On full Irish breakfast menus, bland not blood, reigns. Say it loud, blood sucker, say it proud, every time you tuck into the full Irish – “l’ll have one of those discs of fried pig’s blood please, no, make it two”.

As a vegetarian, one of the things that always astonishes me is how squeamish carnivores really are. Think of tripe, sweetbreads and pâté – not a hint of blood and guts.

I’m willing to bet there are countless black pudding fans who haven’t the first clue of its ingredients – a traditional black pudding recipe is one part pigs' blood to two parts bulk – and might think twice if they did.

Though that would be simply daft ... eat away. If you’re going to eat the meat – any meat, pig, cow, cat or dog – why not drink the blood too? It appeals to my waste-not thriftiness. Why pour it down the abattoir drain if there are people prepared to tuck in. “The blood is the life” – not a quote from a food reviewer, it’s from Dracula.

Gerard Maguire is the proprietor of 64Wine in Glasthule. Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist

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