26 January, 8am, Australia. Bacon’s sizzling, eggs are frying, mushrooms and a token slice of tomato are already cooked. The feature item, black pudding, is proudly occupying its own frypan.
No work this morning – it’s “Australia Day”. The day this nation celebrates in patriotism that could shame America.
It’s a significant date for another reason. On 26 January 2004, I became a British citizen.
But my Britishness was stirring many, many years before then …
When I was four, a doctor deemed me to be iron deficient. His prescription? A dose of lots of red meat, ideally black pudding. It was a treatment that only an Australian doctor in the early 80s would make (“Feed the girl MEAT!!”), but it put a bit of colour into my translucent cheeks and gave me enough energy to stop my Victorian-esque fainting spells.
I was subsequently fed copious amounts of black pudding and I happily devoured it like a little vampire.
It looks like a massive horse-shoe shaped poo and it prompts turned up noses, and scrunched up faces expressing disgust. But I love black pudding’s dark, mushy goodness. And my love was rekindled when I arrived in England and discovered it was a staple in English breakfasts. It perfectly blends my Australian childhood with my adult love of Britain.
My only criticism of the delicious, solidified fluid is that I’d prefer its traditional and more accurate name – blood sausage – to be used. How is it in any way a pudding? It’d be a cruel trick to serve it to a child with ice-cream and call it dessert …
Australia hasn’t changed much in 30 years, but it has changed in the public’s demand for black pudding. The supermarket shelves no longer stock it. And I’ve looked in every supermarket I’ve entered during the last 17 months. The town where I do my shopping even has a café AND a restaurant called “Black Pudding” … but neither actually serve black pudding. Why taunt me? I had to arrange for a delicatessen, “Bitemedeli,” to order it. Apparently they receive “about one request per year” for it. I’m willing to bet that’s a Brit.
So today, on my anniversary, I cook the blessed squishy sausage and it sits with crowning glory on my full English breakfast. A symbol of my past, and a nod to the country I love. The schizophrenic, push-pull, emotional tug-o’-war is the curse of the ex-pat.
1. For readers who are relatively new to my blog, I’ve written about Australia Day in a previous post called “Foreign”.
2. My mother passed my prescription for black pudding to my babysitter, Jillian, who fed it to me for years – again, for new readers, I’ve written a previous post about Jillian called (funnily enough) “Jillian“.
3. There is now such a thing called vegetarian black pudding made with beetroot juice. Jesus Christ. That should be retitled vegetarian blood sausage and made with the blood of vegetarians.