The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Op-Egg: To BP or not to BP? That is the question

by Egon Toast

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The solution is for retailers to allow consumers to undertake the purchase of little black puddings, or perhaps a few slices at once.

That said, the exclusivity of the black pudding to eateries does make it more special.

3:50 PM, August 29, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sainsbury's sells some black pudding in pre-sliced form, six slices per pack. Probably not great value for money but it does allow you to eat some and then put the other slices in the freezer - perhaps two slices per freezer bag. Or one. Whatever.

7:15 PM, August 29, 2008  
Blogger DanDM said...

I live with 3 other people and we eat fry-ups with black pudding every Saturday and Sunday.

My parents are Irish and we always used to do the same when I lived with them. It's a traditional weekend treat.

Toasted white bread (only time I eat it) with black pudding, bacon, fried egg, mushrooms and ketchup washed down with a mug of tea every weekend for as long as I can remember.

10:44 PM, August 31, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It may turn you Scottish"!!!
Is this such a bad thing?
Anyway, Scottish breakfasts are a thing of infinite variety and beauty, fried potato scones, toasted soda scones, fruit pudding,lorne sausage, porridge, kippers etc etc etc

10:41 AM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Full disclosure: I'm from Scotland, so can get away with such rudeness.

And you're right - Scottish breakfasts are hunky beasts indeed. Not a helpful thing to think about during the mid-afternoon energy crash. Mmmm, lorne sausage...

4:47 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Thomas Castliglione said...

A solution?

Laugh ye not, but I once made a rather delicious wintry soup out of black pudding and cabbage.

It is an ideal way to use up that which is not consumed at the breakfast table.

4:05 PM, September 05, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you happen to be in Ramsbottom this Sunday it is time once more for the Black Pudding Throwing Championships. See The Lancashire Telegraph for details.

6:56 PM, September 11, 2008  

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