Oonagh C. Doherty: In defense of black pudding

  • Full Scottish breakfast, including black pudding. —Jeremy Keith/Creative Commons

Monday, August 14, 2017

I know there is a lot to be outraged about lately, but I’m afraid Brooke Hauser’s review of Laura Shapiro’s new book “What She Ate” (Aug. 9) was the final straw for me.

The book, which traces women’s personal histories using a culinary theme, sounds interesting, and I may read it, but I take strong exception to the following: “[Dorothy] Wordsworth …went from baking pies and tarts for her beloved brother [the poet William Wordsworth] at their cozy Dove Cottage in England’s Lake District to eating black pudding, traditionally made from pig’s blood thickened with oatmeal, during her later years, which became ever bleaker.”

Sirs and madams, this is a gross mischaracterization of black pudding, and therefore of literary history, and can only be the product of American ignorance of the cuisine and culture of other peoples.

British black pudding is not, as your article suggests, some horrible gruel of pig’s blood thickened with oatmeal. As I have cause to know, having been served delicious black pudding from the cradle, black pudding is a crisp, savory fried sausage. It is delicious as part of the famed full Scottish breakfast, and also makes a tasty light supper.

Neither is blood pudding an indication of poverty, misery or decline. King Henry the VIII, a famous gourmand, enjoyed his blood pudding, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wordsworths dug their forks enthusiastically into the odd fry-up while still resident at “cozy” Dove Cottage.

Why must Americans draw false conclusions based on their own narrow cultural assumptions? Please desist. But in the end what can one expect from a nation in which liver and kidney, too, are universally vilified?

Oonagh C. Doherty