NONE MORE BLACK... 10/28/2009
The Black Pudding slices are the three round black things on the plate here.
it's time to address the elephant in the room. i'm not sure why it's taken me so long to mention this small element of Britishness, but i'm ready to spread the word today. yes ladies and gents, i'm ready to talk about: Black Pudding.
here in England, "Black Pudding" is a standard element of a hot breakfast meal (see first photo above). it's served the same way as, say, links of sausage might be served: with eggs, toast, bacon - whatever - on a plate, usually presented in round slices cut from a much larger "sausage".
it may be surprising, for those of you who've read my older posts, that i actually have no problem with the fact that Black Pudding is neither "pudding" in the American sense of the word, NOR in the British sense of the word (in Britain a "pudding" is a generic term for dessert, like you'd see at the top of a list of desserts available on a restaurant menu)... rather, my issue is with the ingredient list, which i have included above in the second photo. if you can't see the photo clearly, the ingredient list is:
Water, Cooked Pork Rind, Oatmeal, Pearl Barley, Dried Blood, Rusk, Flour, Pork Fat, Onion, Salt, Mixed Herbs, Pepper, and Yeast Extract.
there's only one ingredient that i didn't recognize, and that was rusk. i looked it up, and "rusk" is basically just hard, dry biscuit ground up. it's commonly used as a binding agent in sausages. of course i didn't have to look up "dried blood" to understand that item, but it led me to wonder:
what is Dried Blood bringing to the flavor party? why did it have to be dried before being added? also, isn't dried blood really more of a scab? and if blood generally tastes so good, why isn't it a key ingredient in more of our traditional foods?
after the ingredient list, the product label screams (in all caps) that the product CONTAINS GLUTEN. i would think that perhaps they may also want to put the "dried blood" part in all caps - but that's just me.
i bought Black Pudding for my British significant other because he loves the stuff - possibly even more than the bacon or egg part of breakfast. when i cooked the Black Pudding slices in the skillet, something just smelled wrong. it didn't smell like i was cooking food at all... and definitely not like anything suitable for human consumption. it was kinda like playing "Let's-throw-this-random-object-in-the-pan-and-see-what-heat-does-to-it."
far more disturbing was when my husband said: "Ahh, that smells SO good!"
i'll be the first to say "To each his own," but i definitely felt a little wave of nausea when he tried to give me a thank-you kiss after eating it.
kudos to the first person who gets my title reference ;)
MISTY WATER-COLORED MEMORIES... 10/01/2009
the shock mark i got on my hand in 2008 when i tried to use my U.S. hairdryer with a UK plug adapter and got shocked. yay.
found a few small, Filofax-sized pages of notes made back during my first week living in London (Tuesday 29 April 2008, to be exact). for fun i thought i'd type them up, minus some T.M.I. bits...
8am: got up, got dressed.
2 cups of "instant coffee" (because i forgot to ask how the percolator thing works).
washed new Le Creuset pots and roaster pans, watched a British morning TV show and waited for DFS sofa delivery.
11am: a woman from DFS called for more directions to our flat.
11:30am: DFS arrived - two men; one white, one black. the concierge knocked on our door first to say the delivery was here. they were friendly - one guy said he had a "helluva time" finding our building. surprise.
lunch: for the second day, i made a noon brunch out of stale bread loaf with deli ham slices and little chips of Edam cheese (which is probably the least melt-able cheese on the planet, but why would an American who isn't a cook know that?). i heated it in the microwave, which btw, has several settings in numbers of 90, 180, 360, 600 etc. and i have no idea what those numbers mean. but based on yesterday's ham and cheese microwave melt, i thought i needed about 30 seconds of the "600" button.
went to the local post office. ok; not great. no one's told me what a standard letter costs to mail in the UK. every post office line seems to have a single mom with a kid demanding a juice box in it no matter what neighborhood i'm in.
went to a card shop, Cards Galore, due to a shortage of thank you notes.
went to grocery store Sainsbury's. watched some white man in his late 50s or maybe 60s being dragged out across the floor while he spat and shouted "n*gger" over and over. umm...
went to drugstore called Superdrug. all the boxes of facial tissue were busted open and damaged, but thought i'd better buy one box because i am not sure grocery stores sell a decent selection of tissues here. there was an Asian man playing statue in the aisle. another jerk-off who stands dead still in the middle of a store aisle, blocking your way entirely and being in just the right spot to impede all walking and shopping.
walk home: walked through the A4/Great West Road underground passage, which was shady. the "safety" mirrors are fogged and useless and if a predator was in there you'd never know unless your head could spin 360 degrees constantly to look out. as i exited i heard footsteps behind me and hurried up the stairs to street level. at the top i stopped and turned 180 degrees pretending to fumble for sunglasses so i could face my follower: a totally normal-looking dude who passed by me. the trouble is that in this city, "normal" people are just as likely to kick you in the head until you're in a coma - or dead - as they are likely to say "hello." the crime and disorder in this city is in many ways worse than any U.S. city i've resided in. i don't recommend watching the news.
in London i feel i should be armed. i have the intention to ask dad for a stun gun. perhaps i should stick a small knife in my purse and walk with my right hand on the knife handle inside my bag. if i'm going to be the victim of a crime i'm not going down without getting in at least a hard right stab to someone's gut.
this is how London is making me feel today.
oh, and did i mention that my MacBook broke down while using the stupid f-ing T-Mobile internet-by-the-hour thing? not to mention the hour was prepaid and i didn't GET my hour?! just another reason to cry about this place today. i smell another full hard drive replacement coming...
i won't even bother describing the nonsense going on at the building, where we have a sofa to sit on now, but still can't get our mail, including the stinking mobile internet device, which was M.I.A. and now is apparently being re-directed to S's work address.
if this was Los Angeles i would have had Roger the "porter" fired or reassigned by now. useless. clearly London is a poorly-run, dangerous, and backwards city. i'd feel more safe alone in Times Square at 4am..
17 months later i still have similar thoughts and feel equally unsafe - even in broad daylight.