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The Red Stuff

June 06, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

Blood is not universally considered food for human beings. Apart from being repugnant to Hindus by its nature, it's specifically forbidden to Muslims and Jews. Many whose religion doesn't forbid the eating of blood just find the idea revolting.

Of course, there are those who are reputed to live on blood. A certain breed of--let's call them Transylvanian transfusionists. The sort of midnight gourmets who sleep in beds that have lids on them, if you catch our drift. Let's not mince words: We're talking about those bat-breathed, vein-poaching, dribble-fanged liquid dieteers who'd like us to go easy on the garlic but who don't exactly have the most elegant table manners, as has been exposed in many a horror movie.

Even those of us who are not vampires have to admit that blood is highly nutritious. Of all natural foods, it's the richest in iron (as one might expect) and equals meat in percentage of protein. Culinarily speaking, its main problem is a bland, faintly liver-like flavor.

The French thicken game stews called civets with blood and many European nations make blood sausage, otherwise known as black pudding (boudin noir). In Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, dumplings and pancakes (such as the Swedish paltbrod) are made from blood and rye flour. The Chinese coagulate blood into a kind of tofu, which is an essential part of authentic Sichuanese hot and sour soup. In Fukien Province, coagulated pork blood is stir-fried with green onions, while poultry blood is sliced and served with dipping sauces. Some nomadic peoples, such as the Mongols and the Masais of East Africa, consume the blood of their herd animals, often drinking directly from the veins.

But we want to emphasize, to any vampire out there, that human blood is absolutely forbidden. (Is that perfectly clear, "Chief Big Hickey"?)

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