An American eating blutwurst (aka blood sausage) for the first time...

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BLOT: (25 Sep 2010 - 08:34:45 PM)

An American eating blutwurst (aka blood sausage) for the first time...

Blood Sausage, (aka blutwurst, aka black pudding, if you are British, or blutwurst if you are German, and aka a bunch of other things depending on the variation and language) is the kind of food that some people rave about, and you hear referenced, but in America it is pretty much cibus non gratus. If you look at the link for black pudding up there, you'll see some pictures. And, if you are one of my American friends, those pictures will possibly (maybe even probably) fill you with a sense of dread and loathing. But having heard a handful of chefs and gourmands act as though it is the best thing since foie gras, I just had to know. My initial reaction to it as a food stuff was the same as most of you reading this—"Yeouchaghghg"—but I figured it wouldn't kill me and in the off-chance I liked it, I had a food that no one would touch at parties.

A quick review. What is blood sausage (black pudding, blutwurst, etc, etc)? It is a sausage made up of blood and other things, cooked in a casing, and then eaten as-is or fried or dried. Some cultures use only blood and pork fat (French boudin noir is one of those, I think). Some use grains (a lot of the British variations). I had a blutwurst variation which included pork and pork fat and, strangely, cow blood instead of pig blood. It came in a pound package, which might be a bit much for an initial go, but was only about six dollars. I got this from The European Market in Huntsville. It is south-ish Parkway, down near where the Redstone Credit Union is. There is a dancewear shop right next to it. I unfortunately can't remember anything more specific than that, but, hey, the European Market has a website (!) and so you can check it out through there. I also picked up a hard square sausage (giggle if you must) and they have some landjäger that I have to try next time I go. All sorts of different things like tuna in olive oil in a glass jar and a giant Nutella jar.

This isn't a review of The European Market, though, so let's get to the course. I decided, even though it should be safe to eat straight out of the package, to fry it in a slight bit of butter. I cut off about 2oz, sliced those into half-oz bits, and then fried them about three minutes to a side. The texture isn't the absolute best for frying, and you have to be careful, but its not too bad as long as you don't let it stick. Let me give you a slight heads up. I'm about to post a picture of it. Not a horrifying picture. Depending on your taste, maybe a yummy looking picture. But...a picture, neverthless. It will be ok. Click, if you want, for a larger version.

Right off, I will tell you what will stop many of my friends from being able to enjoy it: the texture. It does not have a good hard sausage texture, nor a more traditional Southern sausage texture. It has a soft, mushy sort of meat texture. Something like firm Vienna Sausage. A very soft corned beef. It is firm enough that you can cut it and eat it, but it dissolves almost immediately under force or while chewing (at least, well, the blood portion...the pork fat and meat bits are chewier).

Flavor is not bad. I had an expectation for something like liver, maybe with a hint of copper and salt. It was much more like a nice, rich, seasoned meat. In the same ballpark as a good quality canned ham without the insta-artery-hardening. The blood itself is not what you would expect, showing up as more of a sense of flavorful fullness, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. You know the difference in flavor between a medium, or rare, steak and a well-done one? That's pretty much the taste. Now mix in pork and seasonings. It doesn't really taste delicate, meaning it doesn't have the taste that a food snob might brag about, but I can see the appeal. I was more put off by the pork fat than the blood. Plus, I think it would be better with a side of potatoes, or maybe a rice dish. A good plain starch and some spicy mustard would fill in the flavor gap.

There did come a time, though, where our brains started going, "Wait, I'm eating what again?" Sarah got that a lot sooner, and stronger, than I did. She eventually reached the point where she didn't want to see it or talk about it. The richness coupled with the mental issues creeping in finally made me tap out. A single serving was plenty. If you are adventurous, you can click here to see what it looked like about 90% of the way eaten. I warn you, though, that picture will drive home that it really is a blood byproduct and not just a sausage being marketed to goths in a little too deep.

Will I eat blutwurst again? Yes. Will I make it a regular thing? No. I am a fairly big sausage fan, and did enjoy it, but so much of the flavoring could have been accomplished entirely without the blood (the richness probably could not have been, though). I want to try the British style, and maybe the French style, before I get more of the German, I think. This might not be possible, but it is a goal. Healthwise, the sodium and fat will be a little high (to really high, depending on the variation) but it has a large amount of iron and protein. Might make an excellent pregnancy or post-sickness food, all things considered.

Oh, and be careful with the burping while eating it. I learned that from first hand experience. I am not saying that it is a bad thing, or at least not the worst thing in the world, I'm just saying you might want to think ahead.

TAGS: Food

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 38
BY MONTH: September 2010

Written by Doug Bolden

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