Black pudding is one of those taboo foods you hear about whether you're studying abroad in the U.K. or not. Eek, isn't that made out of blood or something? Why does it look like an odd version of a hockey puck? How could you actually enjoy eating that? Well, after living in London for a semester and trying a whole assortment of foods from haggis to garnering food poisoning via German bratwurst, I'm here to tell the tale that black pudding is not only edible, but actually pretty yummy if you eat it right. Ok, maybe yummy could be pushing it, but I do like it. Since you can't knock something till you try it, let's break down the questions of: "What is black pudding, exactly?" And: "Why is it so popular with the Brits, anyway?"

What is black pudding, this odd British dish that masquerades as a hockey puck?

coffee, sausage, toast
Tara Bitran

So first off, yes, black pudding is made out of blood, typically pig's blood. Now I'm sure as you're reading this, your shoulders are caving in and you're slinking into your chair thinking how could this girl actually order blood for her meal. Is she a vampire?! But wait, not only is it made of blood, but it's also mixed with fat and oats before it's packed into casing. Essentially, it's a blood sausage that is boiled, fried (the most common variation), or grilled and cut into rounds, which gives it its distinctively hockey puck-esque appearance. Black pudding may also be crumbled into itty bitty pieces for your pleasure.

cheese, bacon, fried egg, egg
Tara Bitran

And now before you write it off as something you would never want to consume in your life, keep in mind that we all eat plenty of processed meats made from rather unorthodox parts of animals that we'd rather not discuss in public. The fact that black pudding is such a dark, ominous-looking meat is merely an economical and ethical decision, as the sausage was created to use up a plentiful by-product. And as it's a traditional dish in the U.K., can you blame me for venturing to try my host country's specialties? I mean, look at that egg, black pudding, and tattie scone (basically a British fried potato scone) breakfast sandwich! Black pudding doesn't look as unappetizing now, right?

Yes, but why would anyone actually choose to put that in their mouths?

To the surprise of all, definitely me too, black pudding is a superfood and was tapped to be one of the it-foods of 2016. It makes sense, as they're practically carb-free and are rich in protein, iron, and zinc. Additionally, black pudding is an excellent source of calcium and potassium. And if the blood freaks you out, which is perfectly understandable, you can even find vegan and vegetarian forms of black pudding that are packed with oats and barley but sans the blood. It's called "white pudding," naturally, and is commonly found across Scotland and Ireland.

But Brits are also so used to black pudding existing as a normal part of their diets that they might wonder what is black budding aside from a breakfast staple? It's often featured in a fry-up or full English breakfast, as a side among thick back bacon , poached eggs, beans on toast, grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, sausage, and hash browns. I will warn you though that this type of breakfast is certainly not for the faint of heart, and you will most likely pass out from a food coma afterwards. 

And like Coldplay advises, if you never try [black pudding], then you'll never know if you'll like it or not...

beef, cheddar, cheese, bacon
Tara Bitran

Does this cheeseburger from Bleecker St. not look amazing?! They had a pop-up of this burger shop that TimeOut deemed served up the "Best London Burger" in 2015 and 2016 along the South Bank, and a permanent set-up at Old Spitalfields Market. And after tasting just how juicy their regular cheeseburger was, I knew I had to try their "Bleecker Black" burger, a double cheeseburger with black pudding in the middle, before I left good old London Town.

When I visited Spitalfields on my last weekend in London, I was not disappointed to find that this burger defied all my expectations. It was savory with a hint of sweetness from the bun, and I totally didn't mind as I had juice running down my arms. That's what napkins are for, duh! And although none of my friends considered the burger, especially the black pudding bit, a must-try, it just goes to show what happens when you open up your mind to another culture's food habits. You might just find something new you'd like to eat, like I did!

Tara Bitran

So yes, the answer to the question of "what is black pudding?" is quite a doozy. It is indeed a blood sausage that is not often found on breakfast tables on this side of the pond. BUT by choosing to have an open mind and consider black pudding as part of a cultural lifestyle as opposed to an abhorrent-looking side dish, now my first instinct when asked "what is black pudding?" is to call it a superfood rather than super gross. Hey, just ask the BBC.