Many, many years ago, after drinking rather more than was sensible and coming out from the warm fug of the local village pub into the shock of the freezing cold winter air, I managed to head-dive into a flint wall situated just outside.
This left me with 1. large quantities of blood coursing from the head wound and 2. a bright, multi-coloured, really rather obvious bruise on the left hand side of my face. This damage slowly cleared over the next couple of weeks. All good here, you’d think? Yes. Until I did the same thing again. This time, the almost identical damage was inflicted on the right hand side. It rather confused people.
Sorry Mum & Dad. I rather put you through things at times didn’t I?
I’d not say I was a pretty sight; but my head didn’t look this bad, that’s for sure.
And in a possibly vain attempt to tie the title into this piece — having already talked about this food-stuff very recently — here’s another recipe for Blood Cake, this time by the inimitable Fergus Henderson (probably the original zero waste hero chef) I’ve referenced before, courtesy of a piece in Port Magazine, with photos by Jack Orton:
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A large dollop of duck fat
Half a bunch of marjoram – pick the leaves off & chop finely
2.5g crushed mace
2.5g tsp crushed allspice
1 litre of fresh pig’s blood
50g yellow cornmeal (polenta)
Sea salt and black pepper
250g back fat (salted lardo will suffice), cut into 5mm cubes
In a pan large enough to take all the ingredients, sweat the onions and garlic in the duck fat until clear, soft and giving, but not brown. Remember: this can take a long time. Don’t rush it. Add the marjoram, spices, blood and cornmeal, and stir on a gentle heat until the blood starts to thicken to a running porridge consistency (do not let it cook and set).
It has to have density or the back fat will sink to the bottom when added. At this point, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and when happy remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped back fat.
Stir to spread the fatty chunks through the blood and decant the mixture into the cling-film-lined bread tin. Cover with tinfoil and place on a flat folded tea towel in a deep roasting tray or dish. Surround with water (not going over the edge of the bread tin) and bake in a gentle to medium oven for one and a half hours. Check that a skewer or sharp knife comes out clean, then remove and allow to cool and set (wrapped in cling film it keeps very well in the fridge). Once firm, to serve, cut into 12mm thick slices.
And one last (over-)head shot. Josh Niland with his John Dorry breakdown. I continue to read and find huge inspiration in his “The Whole Fish” book.