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What the heck is Black Pudding?
The idea of Bed and Breakfast is that your cot comes with a "full Irish breakfast." Our first was at the Lady Gregory Hotel in Gort: eggs, bacon that I'd call ham, link sausage, fried tomatoes, white toast, brown bread, and black and white pudding. I just knew that the "pudding" had to be something gross, but I was determined to go native. It was tasty. I cleaned my plate.
Next day I asked Carmel what black pudding was. "Did you like it?" she asked. "Yes," I said. She may have just laughed, but the message was clear: "Then don't ask."
It took us till we got to Maureen's before I got a chance to ask again.
"Do you really want to know?"
"Yes," I said.
She explained from her farm girl perspective.
Once a year, she told us, the families in Ballaghduff joined together to kill a pig, which provided their meat for the year. "It was horrible," she said. "I had to run and hide. Pigs are such smart animals." She shivered with the memory.
Anyway, nothing about the pig was wasted. The blood was drained into cleaned lengths of small intestine [mixed somewhere along the line with oatmeal and whatever] and boiled. Voilá. Black pudding. Slice. Fry.
Sure it's gross. But in the world of meat, what isn't? The oatmeal cookie texture is better than the gristle in some sausages.
I'm not much of a meat-eater in any circumstance, but millions of Irish died because their diet depended on potatoes alone. One pig a year among 10 or 15 families, every part used, is a responsible way to exercise prosperity. It reminds me of our own wasteful society as I limit my meat choices to tenderloins and poultry breasts.
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