Thursday, August 3, 2006

Of witches and black pudding


Guess what black pudding is? Cmon on then, just take a guess. Oh stop trying to google it already! Go on... take a wild guess. What could this small circular slightly crisp black disc that's sitting oh so innocently next to your toast and eggs possibly be? How about this: Congealed Pig Blood!

So there you have it. My most 'adventurous' food ever, and that's counting raw fish, lamb brain and snails. No, I'm not upset at having wolfed down god knows how many pints of thick pig blood and fat, I'm upset that they call it black pudding! Pudding! For the love of God... Oh I would voluntarily have opted for a slice of congealed pig blood if only they were polite enough to ask instead of foisting it on unsuspecting tourists like moi. What bloody impudence! Oh just naturally assume wont you, that everybody would obviously come to the only logical conclusion that black pudding is some leftover cannibalistic recipe you got from the three cackling crones of Macbeth.

Imagine yourself walking into this quaint typical English country house hotel one fine sunny morning and you order a traditional full English breakfast. There's this sweet elderly lady behind the counter who keeps smiling while you decide between the orange juice and some new fangled fizzy diet drink. Minutes later, there's a piping hot plate laid in front of you - bacon, eggs, sausages, toast and this little black disc demurely peeking out from under the toast. Black pudding, the menu reads. Oh hey, must be some traditional English delicacy! Hmm, never tried it... looks harmless enough, must be some sort of popular local savoury. So after sitting there quite contented and at peace with the universe, delicious smells wafting up to your nostrils, you decide to tuck into your breakfast, black pudding et al. Tastes decent enough. You wonder what it is for a while before you forget everything and lose yourself in your eggs cooked to perfection.

Days later, on some whimsical fancy you decide to find out what it is. Wiki tells you in a very light, matter-of-fact way, oh its only just blood of a pig cooked with fat and allowed to simmer till it clots and congeals and then cut into the most dainty shapes so they can adorn your delightful white china plate with gold inleaf and pass of as some sort of pudding. You'd never guess would you that that charming old lady probably went into her quaint English kitchen and pulled out her evil, wicked witch of the west cauldron, scraped off the burnt bits of mashed human skull and hair sticking to the bottom from her previous traditional dish, and then promptly proceeded to fetch a pail of hot sticky pig blood and pour it inside the cauldron, add a generous dollop of white pig fat, and cackle and hiss over her double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble. Now where’s that recipe gone. Ah here we go.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,
— For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches' mummy;
maw and gulf Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg'd i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

No wonder they joke about English cooking. That cackling old devil woman could probably teach old Mother Hubbard a thing or two. And here I was living all these years in comfortable ignorance, thinking pudding was a type of English dessert, light and fluffy and made with milk, sugar and eggs. How do they eat such stuff? Just screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not go hungry.

These brits are crazy. *Taps side of head*

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