Continuing our popular theme of pig innards, we focus today on blood, and prove that there is a little vampire in all of us. Yet our bureaucrats seek to disguise their nature.
Yesterday’s headlines in all Taiwanese newspapers screamed with indignation: United States Department of Agriculture To Ban Pork Blood Cake! Typical is this news report (which is in Mandarin; but you’ll get the idea; word-for-word, pork blood cake = jew shiyah gao):
Pork blood cake is just that: a cake made of pig’s blood and rice stuck on a stick. The rice and blood are cooked together and then left to set up; the rice binds the blood. The end results is like a sausage without a skin.
The best pork blood cake looks like a slightly melted fudgesicle. Just before eating, it is steamed or otherwise warmed, then dunked in a sweet and slightly salty black concoction which tastes of a cross between oyster and sugary soy sauce. This ersatz fudgesicle is then coated with cilantro and finally plastered with sweet peanut powder. It is almost always ensconced in a plastic bag so that the sauce can’t drip on your fingers.
If you’re a fan of black pudding or blood sausage—and who isn’t?—then you will adore pork blood cake, which is sweet, warm, unctuous, and with a slight chewiness. It is delicious. This only goes to prove the old adage: all the best food is on sticks.
The worst pork blood cake isn’t; by which I mean that inferior duck or chicken blood is substituted, but it is—let’s admit it—sometimes still called pork blood cake. A telltale is usually that the cake is rectangular and hard. Real pork blood, as the saying goes, melts in your mouth. You have to apply some heavy-duty tooth friction to get duck blood to slide down the tubes.
The telltale only works in you are in a night market, where a food’s origin can often be mysterious; grocery stores sell pork blood cake in plastic-covered rectangles. Manufacturers also export it in this shape, where it eventually makes it way to the States. But you won’t find it in your local Safeway or Super Walmart. Head to the nearest Chinese of East Asian grocery; where even if you find it, you’ll still have to make your own sauce.
So much for recipes. Why would the United States Department of Agriculture ban this delicacy? After all, pork blood cake was just picked last year as the Number One Strangest food by the site Virtual Tourist—which only proves that these folks don’t get out enough; deboned decrowned inverted pork rectums didn’t even make the list.
I have not been able to discover on any official site whether the ban is real. But people in Taiwan sure think it is, which is saying something. Food is taken seriously in Taiwan, and such ban, even if only a rumor, is seen as a personal insult, almost fightin’ words.
Many Taiwanese think Americans are being hypocritical. After all, we eat pig, and some of us even eat pig blood; actually, anybody who eats pig meat eats some blood, of course. So why specifically ban pork blood cake? Could it be retaliation on the part of the American government?
Earlier in the year, Taiwan banned (at least temporarily) the importation of American beef innards, fearing that they might be contaminated with mad cow disease. Many restaurants went further and ceased using American-produced cow meat of any kind.
A poster was designed for vendors and restaurants to place in their windows, which advertised that they did not use any American cow parts in their cooking. I am unable to locate a copy of this, but my memory tells me it was red and had a picture of an angry, yet very manly, stars-and-stripes bull, painted over with a circle with a line through it.
Taiwan’s ban of American cow innards produced little outcry here in the States, mainly because most people here do not regularly dine on cow guts (though they are delicious, especially tripe).
In Taiwan, one man, who calls himself Lucifer Chu, is so incensed that he is threatening to create and release another video to “promote” pork blood cake. He calls the USDA’s action “cultural discrimination.” Chu unleashed a video last year on the subject, after seeing Virtual Tourist’s survey. You can watch it linked from a story on Radio Taiwan International. We should take Chu’s threat seriously.
Newspapers are saying the USDA suspects pork blood cake production is unsanitary; hence the emphasis in the video above on the cleanliness and sophistication of the process. If the ban is real, it is another example of bureaucrats sticking their palates where they do not belong. Let pork blood cake be released from its regulatory bonds!