One of the iconic staples of Britain’s infamously dubious cuisine is black pudding, a grainy dark sausage commonly seen alongside a full English breakfast. However, it’s lesser known to friends on the other side of the Atlantic that the main ingredient of this food is blood.
Native to the UK and Ireland, black pudding is a regional variation of blood sausage, which can be found all across the world in countless shapes and sizes. In fact, some form of blood sausage can be found in practically every country's culinary culture.
Black pudding is mostly commonly made from pork or beef blood, which gives its a deep and hearty color. Today, it’s often made with dried blood with a powder-like consistency because it's more stable, safer, and easier to use in mass-production lines.
The blood is mixed with animal fat and cereal, such as oatmeal or barley, which is one of the key features that separates it from other blood sausages of the world. Breadcrumbs might also be added to the mix. To top it off, it’s seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices. The concoction of seasoning varies from recipe to recipe, but it traditionally involves stuff like pennyroyal, marjoram, cloves, nutmeg, thyme, and mint.
All of this is then stuffed into a natural casing, typically made of pig intestine.
Black pudding is an age-old tradition. The earliest mention of it comes from the 15th century CE with an English text mentioning something called “blak podyngs,” but it likely evolved from a recipe that’s been cooked in Europe since ancient. The Romans had a recipe for a very similar blood sausage that dates to the 4th Century CE and there’s even a mention of it in Homer's epic poem Odyssey, which was written in 800 BCE.
Taste for black pudding had been on the decline in past decades, although it has recently enjoyed somewhat of a gastronomic renaissance.
However, it’s certainly not for everyone. A YouGov poll found that just 41 percent of Brits had a favorable view of black pudding, making it one of the nation’s least-liked foods. The worst-rated food, by the way, was jellied eels, which just 4 percent of participants said they like. Speaking from experience, that’s not surprising.