Q: Is blood sausage really made of blood? Where can I find some?

A: Yup. It's blood, all right. Pig's blood, to be exact. To some, the idea of eating coagulated blood of swine sounds revolting – after all, the trend these days is to eat for your blood type, not to down sausages of boar's A+. But blood sausage has been around a lot longer than our prissy eating habits. So next time you see a blood sausage, don't be grossed out. Think of it as the distant relative of the hot dog.

Blood sausage comes from an age when we respected our place in the food chain enough not to waste what we slaughtered, economically processing every part. When domestic pigs were slaughtered in the fall, the blood was drained, the fat was rendered and the offal was culled. Put them all together, add spice and a bit of grain to thicken, and you have the makings of a blood sausage.

The flavor is somewhat timid, but with assertive metallic repartee. Not surprisingly, it tastes much like liver. And like that maligned organ, blood sausage also relies heavily on its bedmates for flavor. Many countries mold its taste to their liking: In France, cooked onion and cream make appearances; in Britain, oats are a major player; the Spaniards include almonds and pimientos; the Hungarians, rice. Don't expect to find blood sausage in the traditional American repertoire. We gained access to this gory charcuterie through ethnic groups who brought it over as part of their own traditions. But has it caught on? You be the judge.

Try variations on blood sausages at these local restaurants: Polonia serves the traditional Eastern Europe kiszka (3586 Aloma Ave., Winter Park; 407-671-4424). Choo Choo Churros offers an Argentinean spin, spiced with Spanish paprika (5810 Lake Underhill Road; 407-382-6001). Lenos y Carbon serves a Colombian version of morcilla, blood sausage thickened with rice and nuts (7101 S. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-251-4484). British Supermarket sells black pudding (5695 Vineland Road; 407-370-2023).

In addition, blood sausages are found by these other names worldwide: Boudin noir (France), schwartzwurst (Alsace), sanguinaccio (Italy), blutwurst (Germany), bloedpens (Belgium), butifarras (Spain), boudin créole (Caribbean).

Speaking of On The Side

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