Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Black Pudding

The reason I do all of my gift shopping well in advance and largely on the internet is so that I can avoid such things as going into Bury town centre in the freezing sleet on the last Saturday before Christmas. This was the gist of the message I intended but in the event diplomatically decided not to convey with some force to Mrs B and her mother. Including Brit Jnr, there were three generations of females against me: the game was up before it started.

Having chauffeured them into the town I gave them the slip as soon as was reasonable and went off into the famed boxy warren of Bury Market in search of hot grub. Bury is black pudding country. I have nothing against black pudding per se, a small disc of the stuff is a very welcome addition to any hotel breakfast. But you wouldn’t want to eat it in the same sort of style and quantity as you would, say, a bag of chips. Would you? In Bury you would. The market includes a little quadrangle of hot black pudding stalls offering exactly that. A boy of about ten was wolfing forkfuls of his congealed pig blood snack from a paper plate. He looked cheerful enough.

I hurried on and found a pieman. Like most men in the Greater Manchester area he was small and had a wiry moustache. His pies were a pound each. I ordered a homemade bacon and black pudding one.

“What, don’t you want peas and gravy for another 50p?” he asked, in a tone that was both injured and incredulous. “No, just as it comes please,” I replied in my southern accent.

It was a good pie, I ate it on the way to a warm-looking pub called the Two Tubs. Had myself a pint of mild in a nook (I like to go native, within limits) and checked the cricket score on my mobile. At the table next to me a small man with a wiry moustache was drinking a pint and reading his paper in great peace, while behind, a group of quite irritating students from some Home County or other talked too loudly about travelling in Australia. Idly, I studied the bar menu. The £3.99 special was A Plate of Black Pudding, covered in Bacon and smothered in Cheddar Cheese. Now that dish, I thought, is not widely available down south.

12 comments:

Gaw said...

Terrific! I never thought I'd feel jealous of someone visiting Lancashire but I do now. I love black pudding and if I ever find myself within spitting distance of Bury I shall endeavour to visit the market.

Reminds me of when I ate rag pudding on the way from Blackburn to Halifax in a pub up on the moors: a roll of suet pastry wrapped around braised steak, covered in gravy, and served with chips. I had two (but just the one portion of chips).

Peter Burnet said...

Black pudding? A pieman? Peas and gravy? A wiry moustache? A pint in a nook in a pub called the Two Tubs? The obligatory urchin? I was settling into a nice Christmas tale from yesteryear, and then you go and wreck it by checking cricket scores on your mobile. Very jarring, that.

Did the pieman wish you a nice day?

Brit said...

He was too put out by my refusal of peas and gravy.

I am forming large philosophical and poetic thoughts about Lancashire and its place in England, but they'll have to wait til new year when i can be arsed.

Peter Burnet said...

Allow me to suggest a title: "Poetry and Philosophy about Lancashire are Rubbish".

David said...

You people do love your puddings.

Brit said...

Heh heh, yes indeed.

Very broad church, the 'pudding'. Covers many foodstuffs.

worm said...

To my great shame, I have never eaten a northern pie.

Sophie King said...

Twenty-odd years ago when I drove up the middle of Australia, just about the only snack you could buy from the truck stops was a searingly hot meat pie. My French travelling companions were genuinely appalled that something so malevolently British could have reached such a far-flung place, particularly as the coastal cities had lulled them into gastronomic complacency. I was utterly charmed by the incongruity of it all and found that a steaming mug of tea washed the pie down nicely.

Sean said...

Black pudding on a potato rosti with poached egg and hollandaise sauce...beat that!

Brit said...

Fantastic stuff, Sophie - brings a patriotic tear to the eye. I think I would have saluted that pie, and possibly sung God Save The Queen to it.

PS - could you drop me an email? BritOfEngland 'at' googlemail.com

David said...

I was at an academic conference in Oxford a few years back, and we were seated together at table at one of the colleges. I was across the table from a very well-respected, very proper, very English lady don (if you can call ladies dons).

Not until the conversation turned to the difference between puddings and desserts did she come alive, and then she gave us all (a motley bunch of Americans and Canadians) a very complete lecture on what counts as a pudding and why "pudding" is not just another word for "dessert."

ghostofelberry said...

Bury? Full of chavs - notorious nest of chavvery.