Op-Egg: To BP or not to BP? That is the question
I have a breakfast-based quandary that simply must be aired. It is this: is there ever any place in the home-made breakfast for the black pudding?
A gory, sinful discus of fried pig juice balancing on the side of the plate - butting up against the sausages - is surely one of the great sights of the breakfast table. So why is it never transposed into the domestic setting? One might say that the 'Full English' as taken in a greasy spoon or pub is undertaking gross abuse of the word 'full' if it eschews the blood sausage; not so when the home-made version is served, it would seem. Is the reputation of black pudding in need of upwards revision? Can it be included in a social situation, or should more conservative breakfast instincts prevail?
Perhaps we should look at the likely inhibitive factors: culture, familial mores, and logistics.
Firstly, culture: blood sausages - puddings both black and white, boudin, Blütwurst - are the province of northerners, Celts and continentals. Although occasionally attached to one's London-caff-bought Full English, I wouldn't say that their presence is as compulsory to the southern morning feed as, say, baked beans. A slice of black pud, its sanguigenous heft, is perfect for Prussian snowstorms and wind-whipped dales - yet a little de trop for apple-pickers and financiers.
Stepping in a few yards from society's boundary, we should consider those formative childhood experiences of cooked breakfast, taken with family and at school. What morning treats did you share with siblings and parents on a Saturday morning? I remember scrambled eggs on toast, and possibly bacon. Sausages were Evening Food. But no-one has a bad word to say about (good) bacon. Black pudding, though? Well - its standing in the eyes of genteel, nutritionally-aware mums is null; they would sooner place their darling little creatures in a pool teeming with barracudas than place such a fatty disc of filth on their breakfast plate. Despite the worldly view on life one acquires with age, perhaps our subconscious still follows Mum's Rules; perhaps that's the reason you pass by the refrigerated offal section in the supermarket without hesitation. It wouldn't occur to you to stop there - as you never did so when learning the ropes of supermarket shopping by mama's side. Ditto the canned meats section, but that's for another time.
Mostly, though, it comes down to numbers. The cafe black pudding, if it appears at all, is a rather grand little treat, isn't it? You feel quite mischievous, teeth marching their way through that crunchy puck of deliciousness. But therein lies the problem: it's just one slice. To buy black pudding, to submit to your shopping trolley an entire tube of the stuff, well, that's laying down a marker, isn't it? You are telling consequence to go hang. How many meals are going to have to feature black pudding if you're to make it through the damned thing? If your dining partner tends to be just one other then you're looking at blood for breakfast, lunch and tea for quite a few days, each slice eaten in the face of disapproval and guilt. And probably not a little nausea, after a while. Maybe a friend or two will be present for a weekend breakfast - but there's no guarantee they will be fans of the stuff either.
I think circumstances and society will keep this little circular treasure in its place for a while yet. To attempt to adapt it, to minimise its arterial threat for today's more health-conscious food consumer would be to doom it to obsolescence - why not just eat a normal sausage? It will remain a fixture in many traditional spoons and caffs, as it should; but think twice before inviting it into your house. It may turn you Scottish.