Black Pudding and one of its Makers:
The Bury Black Pudding Company
When people hear pudding a vision of thick chocolate with a smidgeon of whipped cream comes to mind.
But pudding in the traditional sense comes from the French word boudin, which has its root in the Latin word botellus, meaning small sausage. The word describes a filling of minced and spiced meat, encased in a skin or cloth and boiled to preserve it.
It's thought that it arrived in England with the Romans and while the English love it, it's by no means exclusive to our country.
The Germans call it Blutwurst and in French it's boudin noir ... but I'm not aware that in either country it is served as part of a traditional breakfast as it is here.
Black pudding is a useful sort of sausage. Made from finely chopped onions, salt, oatmeal, lard and pig's blood, seasoned with black and cayenne pepper, mace, coriander and cloves, it made a tasty staple and was one way of making sure that not a part of the family pig was wasted, come slaughtering time.
Cookware was usually at a premium and a pudding - where the animal's stomach is used to encase the meat - is a clever use of available resources.
Back in the old days the slaughter of a pig was almost a festival with all the neighbours coming to help. And black pudding was a special treat - being the first product that was ready to eat. Today, we see it as a delicious addition to a breakfast or a tasty alternative to fish and chips when battered.
The recipe developed over time as different spices and became available after the Norman Conquest and throughout the Middle Ages and fashioned and tastes changed. But mostly, it made use of such ingredients as were readily available and that's why we're still eating it today!
It is enjoyed all over England and made by most butchers, but there is no place as famous for the product as Bury, England's capital of pudding production. The Bury Black Pudding Company makes not just the famous breakfast treat, but also white pudding (no blood), sausages, Lancashire cheese and savoury ducks - which have nothing to do with the paddle-footed variety, but are a type of meatball.
Working to a recipe that's over 100 years old and has pleased the customers at the Bury market for generations, the company was brave enough to enter their puddings into contests in France. After success abroad, they then brought the competition to England and in 1970 the first UK Black Pudding Competition was held. And 38 years later it is still going strong!
And if this is not enough, northern England has a festival to celebrate it. The World Black Pudding Throwing Championships are held every year in Ramsbottom, just outside of Manchester.
If you want practise for the competition, make sure you have a pair of ladies' tights handy. Then take your pudding and place it into the foot of your tights. Hurl the pudding-weighted tights at a 20 feet high stack of Yorkshire puddings and try to knock off as many as you can.
Of course - the age-old rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire has nothing at all to do with this!
Hungry now? If you want to try out Bury's finest, you're in luck:
The Bury Black Pudding Company's online shop stocks black and white puddings, sausages, savoury ducks and Lancashire cheese. And if you're in Bury, you can visit them at the market.