I met a few old friends over drinks the other day. In the course of our reminiscences, Vinod, our buddy from God’s Own Country, mentioned this mouth smacking snack that the folks in Kerala have with their evening drinks – fried blood! After we had all got back on terra firma, Vinod explained that blood from the animal was allowed to congeal; once thick enough, it was cut into small pieces and fried.
That got me to do some quick research on blood as food. Low and behold, a Google search revealed that the incidence of humans consuming blood from animals was not as rare as I had assumed; on the contrary, it is widely prevalent. So here’s some of what I found from Wikipedia:
* Black pudding (also called blood pudding or blood sausage) is an often consumed food in many parts of Europe, Asia and the Americas. It is a sausage made by cooking blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. You have a wide choice of the blood you could opt for – pig, cattle, sheep, duck, and goat blood being the more popular. And there is a wide range of fillers that you could demand including meat, fat, suet, bread, cornmeal, sweet potato, onion, chestnuts, barley, oatmeal and rice.
* Sausages or variants of cut sausages using blood and a filler are popular in the whole of Asia including China, Tibet, Hong Kong, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Of course, the Tibetans use yaks as the source of the blood.
* If you crave for pancakes, blood pancakes are pretty common in Scandinavian countries and the Baltic; examples are the Swedish blodplättar, the Finnish veriohukainen and the Estonian veripannkoogid.
* Like me, if you have a weakness for soups and stews, go for czernina, dinuguan, haejangguk, mykyrokka, pig’s organ soup, tiet canh and svartsoppa that have a generous proportion of blood in them.
* In Hungary, a pig’s blood is fried with onions and served for breakfast. In China, “blood tofu” is most often made with pig’s or duck’s blood although chicken’s or cow’s blood may also be used. The blood is allowed to congeal and simply cut into rectangular pieces and cooked (much like what is done in Kerala).
* Blood is also used as a thickener in sauces, such as coq au vin or pressed duck, and puddings, such as tiet canh. It can provide flavour or colour for meat, as in cabidela.
* Humans understand the value of cooked food; therefore, the consumption of raw blood is not common. But raw blood is used as an addition to drinks or other dishes. The exception are the Inuit of the Arctic region: they believe that raw seal blood fortifies the human blood by replacing depleted nutrients and rejuvenating the blood supply – to achieve this, they consume raw seal meat and blood and examine their veins as they turn dark. Indisputable proof that the raw blood is doing good to the human blood and body.
* The Maasai tribe of Tanzania like their cattle blood mixed with milk to form a wholesome drink.
Pretty interesting, I must say. And do bear in mind, when travelling abroad, that black pudding is not some sweet dessert made out of cocoa or chocolate.