The simplest recipe in the world is for bread: take flour, water, and yeast; mix, leave, and bake. You can even avoid the nuisance of adding the yeast yourself, by ignoring the dough long enough that it picks up its own supply from the atmosphere. This simple formula gives us the basic, sustaining, staff of life. But how marvellous are the ways that we have learned to embellish this blank canvas over the millennia.
I thought I had seen all possible bread ideas, until I came across the following ‘health food’ recipe recently:
“Make as ordinary wheat bread, using about 20 per cent of uncoagulated blood from raw flesh, preferably beef. It is nutritious and anti-scorbutic.”
The Complete Bread, Cake, and Cracker Baker, J. Thompson Gill, (Chicago, 1881)
For those not forbidden by their religious beliefs to eat it, blood is highly nutritious; for those not held back by an apparently not uncommon repugnance, it is also pretty tasty. Culinary history includes a long litany of recipes specifying blood as an ingredient. Blood sausage (‘black pudding’) was a tradition at the annual harvest time pre-winter animal slaughter, and is still by many considered an essential component of a traditional British breakfast (whatever that is – but don’t get me on that topic.) Blood Pie was not unknown either, and it featured in a blog post some time ago. Another idea, suggested in a recipe from 1790, was that a pig be rubbed over with ‘a little rosin beat exceeding fine and its own blood …’ before it was put to be roasted.
Pig’s blood mixed with vinegar was supposedly the base for the infamous and maybe mythical melas zomos (‘black broth’) that supposedly gave the famous and apparently fearless Spartans of Ancient Greece their fighting edge (see the quotation below for a theory of why it might have worked.) And at the five-star end of the culinary spectrum, the blood of the hare is a key ingredient in the famous dish Lièvre a la Royale.
But blood in bread? Wouldn’t have thought of it in my wildest vampirest cooking dreams? What do the bread enthusiasts amongst you think?
P.S Blood is also an ingredient in ‘American Cutcheree Soup’ (1827)
Quotation for the Day.
“Now I do perceive why it is that Spartan soldiers encounter death so joyfully; dead men require no longer to eat; black broth is no longer a necessity.”
Supposedly said by ‘a certain native of Sybaris’ after he tasted the soup.