Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blood as food - delicacy or taboo? (REPOST)

(Please click here to read about this series of reposts of original posts from May 24, 2010 to June 12, 2010)

In many cultures, using blood as a culinary ingredient is a common characteristic of traditional cuisine, often in the form of sausages, or in soups or stews. Some cultures, notably the Maasai of Tanzania, drink fresh animal blood fresh, which the Maasai do mixed with milk. In other cultures, there is a very strong taboo about the eating of animal blood. Jewish and Muslim cultures are specific about this taboo, and the slaughtering of animals must be done in so as to avoid retention of blood in the meat - kosher, halal. Some people have a culturally-engendered repulsion to the consumption of blood, even in the absence of specific cultural prohibitions.

Brazilian food traditions, particularly in the northeastern regions of that country, include many dishes in which blood figures prominently. Blood-sausages are part of the culinary landscape of Portugal, and perhaps the influence of Portuguese colonizers introduced blood as a culinary ingredient to Brazil. Well-loved dishes from the Nordeste which have blood as a principal ingredient include sarapatel, which uses pork blood, and galinha de cabidela, with chicken. One of the most interesting, and surprising uses of blood is in the creation of a candy called chouriço, made from pork blood, manioc flour, rapadura sugar and flavorings. Friends of mine who grew up in the interior of Ceará remember loving chouriço as children, though most swear they wouldn't eat it now.

In the interest of gastronomic sociology, the next few posts will feature some of these "blood" foods. None of them will have been tested by me,however,  as I have to admit to being in that group of people mentioned in the first paragraph that have a cultural antipathy to eating blood. I just can't bring myself to do it, much as I try.

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