A treat from the Western Isles: Charlie Barley’s

Black pudding is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s pretty popular in this household! It’s not so much that it’s an acquired taste, but I think the thought of it puts a lot of people off. Yup, it’s oatmeal soaked in blood.

The earliest reference I have seen to the traditional Scottish black pudding was from one of those (slightly patronising) early writers, who took a trip around Scotland and published their thoughts on the local populace. This writer noted that the Scottish people ate oatmeal soaked in the blood of their black cattle (more commonly known today as the hairy coo, and more commonly red haired rather than black). I thought it sounded gross until I realised he was talking about black pudding, which is actually a pretty thrifty use of a part of the animal that’s not made use of: the blood. Nowadays pig’s blood is used.

The best black pudding I’ve ever had is made by Charles MacLeod of Stornoway. If you’ve ever had black pudding and didn’t like it, try Charley Barley’s – it’s something else. I was introduced to this very special black pudding by a native to the Isle of Lewis. I’d recently stopped being a vegetarian, and was pretty unsure about this rather large step into the world of carnivores. He was very patient and I’m glad he persisted – thanks Murdanie!

His way of having black pudding for breakfast is still my favourite: grilled black pudding in a bread roll, with a fried egg on top. And ketchup!

While Papa was away in Lewis this past week he brought us back a whole 1.5kg black pudding, so as well as a hearty breakfast or two I’ll have to try out some other black pudding recipes in the next wee while…

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