Blood pudding sausage

pudding with … Blood pudding …

This is blood pudding.

This is Jell-O pudding.

In what universe are these two different types of the same thing? The universe you and I are living in, friends. It's the universe where the word pudding, at least, originally meant sausage. Pudding means sausage, or it used to, and it still does in some parts of the Anglosphere, such as in old Birmingham. Now, there is some dispute over the origin of the word pudding. There is a possible Germanic origin. A few people think it's from an old Germanic word, pud, which is the ancestor of the modern English word pod. A seed pod is like a sausage; it's a payload wrapped inside a casing that swells as it grows.

The proto-Germanic word pud meant to swell, and in that sense, it is the ancestor of the modern English slang pud, which refers to a part of the human anatomy that is prone to swelling. But here's the most popular etymological theory on the origin of the word pudding. This is the story of the Oxford English Dictionary we'll tell you. OED, among others, says that pudding comes from the French word for sausage, introduced to England, like so many other words, via the Norman Conquest, about a thousand years ago. And that French word for sausage is, of course, boudin, which is from the Latin word for sausage, botellus. Boudin as in boudin noir, black sausage made with blood. The blood turns black when you cook it. The Brits still call it black sausage today, because they call it black pudding, and pudding means sausage, because pudding and boudin are the same word.

Confused? Here, let me hold the door for you. Boudin, poudin, poudan, puddan, puddin, pudding, pudding. Nobody knows for sure if that's the origin of pudding, but we do know that the earliest surviving written uses of the word pudding referred to meat and grains and seasonings and such stuffed into an intestine, which served as an edible container in which to cook an amorphous mass of scraps and bits that would otherwise have been very hard to roast over a fire.

Stuffing all those little bits of meat and grains and such into a casing also presents you with an opportunity to preserve it rather than cook it and consume it immediately. For example, if you mix a little bit of salt in with everything, well, you have created the conditions necessary for lacto-fermentation. I have a whole about that in the description. It's used to preserve meat. Anyway, that's where we got the other modern English word for sausage, which is sausage, which is from a French word, which is from a Latin word, which means to season with salt.

In American English, these days, we pretty much only use sausage to refer to sausage, but in the Anglo-Celtic Isles, they still call a sausage a pudding sometimes, though I gather it has an old-fashioned ring to it, and it usually just refers to black and/or white puddings featured in traditional English and Irish breakfasts.

All that explains why we call a sausage a pudding. The question remains, why do we call this a pudding? I mean, it's not going to take 80,000 hours. What will take 80,000 hours, on average, is your entire working life.

Go, fungus.

Anyway, why do we call this and so many other desserts a sausage? Pudding means sausage. Well, I think it helps to remember that until the miracle of the industrial revolution, most families might have had only one or two primitive cooking pots, or maybe none at all, and not a lot of bowls and spoons and such for dealing with liquid foods. So when you're trying to cook some amorphous mass of loose wet stuff, it might be beneficial to stuff all of that into the intestines of the animal that you're presently trying to eat, or maybe into one of its other parts, like its stomach or its bladder. As in Haggis, "Great Chieftain o' the Puddin-race," Robert Burns called it. A biological casing is elastic, so it can expand as the oats inside there hydrate and swell.

It is edible, arguably, and it's both water- and fire-safe, so you can cook over a fire, or in the one pot of water that you have, it's great. On the other hand, natural casings are gross. They can be hard to come by. They're not reusable, and alternatives started to get more and more popular as the early industrial revolution came up with its first killer app, and that was, of course, cheap fabric. A plain linen, or in this case, cotton cloth could serve as a reusable inedible casing. Google "pudding cloth," it's a thing. Step one might have been boiling the cloth. This cleans and sterilizes it from its last use and engorges the fibers with water, which will help us to form an almost waterproof seal.

This is a documented historical practice right here. I'm rubbing a thin layer of wheat flour into the hot wet cloth. This actually forms a thin layer of dough to seal the cloth. Here's the earliest written English pudding recipes I can find: 1615, A New Booke of Cookerie by John Morrell. I'm making his Cambridge Pudding, which calls for breadcrumbs and flour. Recipes from this era never specify quantities, so I'm just guessing. For fat, he calls for minced suet. Suet is this hard, highly-saturated intraabdominal fat, usually from around the kidneys, but I'm sure this visceral fat will do.

Mince that as instructed. Morrell also calls for an assortment of dried fruits, and since I don't have that much beef fat, I'll compensate with some butter. More dried fruits. And for seasoning, he wants cinnamon and nutmeg, and "fine" sugar. I don't know if this is supposed to be a sweet or a savory dish.

He calls for "new" milk; I assume

That means unfermented.

And then some eggs to make it all solidify.

He doesn't call for salt, but I'm going to guess salt sometimes went without saying back then, as it can today.

Stir that up and, mm-mm, 17th century English food: So much better than that evil, modern, corporate soylent green that we choke down today, right? Oh, here's a nice touch. He tells you to stuff a little ball of butter right in the center of the pudding. Surprise! Tie that up, and I suspect early accounts of "steamed" puddings were really just hung near a fire like this. A very wet mixture could steam itself until cooked. But John says to boil this until solid all the way through, which took three hours. Look how much it swelled, like a pud. Hey, check the water. That flour on the inside of our cloth seems to have kept most of the precious nutrients from leaking out, with the exception for the fat; we lost a lot of fat.

The fact that the pudding was buoyant in the water means that it naturally cooked into a smooth, round shape, which probably would've looked pleasing and fancy to people unaccustomed to factory perfection, especially if you turned it upside down, which lots of old recipes tell you to do. Smack that around, and it's a little wobbly, kind of like Jell-O pudding. I guess it's the same basic thing: milk and sugar given substance with starch. Aww, our butter surprise in the middle melted away. It didn't gush as intended. That's pretty easy to eat even without any utensils, and I got to say, it's surprisingly good. It's basically a giant dumpling, and I like dumplings. The little dried fruits provide heterogeneity.

Not bad. So maybe think of this as the transition between the sausage and the pudding cup. Cooks all over the Anglo-Celtic Isles developed all kinds of sweet and savory dishes consisting of wet masses congealed into a solid, and they called them puddings, like Christmas pudding, or this spotted dick, that's a pudding. And then in the 20th century, the word pudding split into two very different branches on either side of the Atlantic. Over on the eastern shores, the word pudding came to mean any kind of dessert, or rather, I think it meant the phase of the meal, the course of the meal that is the dessert, that is the sweet. That's the pudding. Then over here on the western shores, the American use of the word pudding got almost entirely hijacked by the Jell-O company, a company that makes pre-packaged gelatin desserts like this one, but they also make pre-packaged starch-thickened desserts, dairy and starch desserts, and they call those Jell-O pudding.

This is almost exclusively what we use the word pudding to refer to here in the United States today.

It's basically an instant custard with the more expensive and perishable eggs replaced by starch. Use eggs instead, and you have flan, the Latin-American equivalent. Hey, Spanish speakers, would you consider flan a kind of pudding? Anyway, that's how sausage became pudding. Replace the meat with dairy, replace the oats or whatever with corn starch. Replace the intestinal sheath with a plastic sheath, and that's jello pudding. Mm-mm. This is such a compelling ad for them. They should really be paying me. Honestly, I love Jell-O pudding, and I love sausage. It's all good, and it's all part of the same proud tradition...