June 5, 2013
If ever there were scents of lingering on in old age, nothing in my memory lingers more than the aroma of my mother’s fried up black pudding on a cold winter’s night. It seems as if from yesterday. Before I wax on any further about the delights of this fare, let me give a short definition of what this delicacy entails.
It is a kind of robust fare made from a mixture of herbs and spices, including cloves, pepper, salt , bay leaf or more, mixed with pig’s fat and…its main ingredient…blood. I sometimes wonder if, in the mythological tales of those vampires busy with bloodletting back in 1734 Romania, the basic recipe of black pudding was not born.
In any case, we are lucky that the recipe has survived, irrespective of fangs stuck in someone’s main throat artery or not. We all make the best of life, and vampires did not ask to be born with that addiction. Drinking fresh blood was the quintessential ingredient and affliction of Dracula as well. Just imagine a world without Dracula? Well, actually, I can. I never felt the slightest interest in Vampires sucking blood, being more of a blood giver.
Anyway, I am off subject.
Oh yes, those scents of yesteryears. How come roses smelt stronger? One just brushed past a tomato on its truss and one almost passed out with its fragrance. This seems to have disappeared. Are scientists developing faster growing bigger produce and sacrificing scents or are my smelling patches going downhill? Our olfactory skills are pretty feeble compared for instance with a bloodhound but we are all born with between 3 or 4 million smelling receptors. The blood hound has 220 million give or take a few million.
We taste food with our nose more than by mouth as our mouth is only capable with tasting sour, sweet, salt and bitter. The rest of taste is done by our olfactory receptors high up our nose. Perhaps that’s why our nose is above our mouth, seeing that smells go upwards!
It seems unfair that women outdo men in the smell department as well as in the shopping department. Does that explain men can’t get away with leaving the shower till next week or wearing day socks to bed? I always counter complaints about my smells to H with ‘that just born babies have shown to prefer the unwashed breast to the freshly soaped one.’ I further enhance the well known proven theory, that humans find their mate through smelling each other’s arm pits’ pheromones and that the daily shower is now seen by many ‘experts’ as being the final death-knell in many a marriage. She, very sadly, doesn’t accept that and sniffs disapprovingly and (cruelly) turns her back.
The black pudding scent was brutally brought back yesterday when doing our shopping at Aldi’s supermarket. I like to linger at the butter-cheese and small-goods division while H takes the opportunity to, very casually, saunter around and inspect sheets, pillow slips, toothpaste or brush-ware, deodorants isles. As my gaze left the Stilton cheese the unsalted butter and moved slowly upwards, what did I spot next to the buttermilk and bacon; ‘black pudding’ in all its glorious white speckled with fat and dark blood- brown luster. I nearly cried with the memory of it all flooding back. My nostrils were in overtime, quivering like a fierce bloodhound in the snow just metres away from his rabbit.
Aldi is a very German-Euro slanted shopping phenomenon specializing in foods and goods that migrants from Europe sink to their knees before bedtime and pray to be able to buy again. Black pudding has always been high on my list but I stop short on offering prayer.
This morning, at the crack of dawn at around 5.30 am I was up frying black pudding while making our first coffee. It was early for H’s coffee, but what the hell; I had showered the night before. As I opened the door to pass H her coffee, she very sleepily said; “what is that strange smell?” “Its freshly brewed coffee darling”, I said. “No, it smells dark and brooding”, H answered with a puckered nose. “Oh, I said,” feigning ignorance, “could it be the cloves in the black pudding. Would you like a slice?”
Helvi does not like black pudding. I gave her slice to our Jack Russell ‘Milo.’