There is nothing that adventurous gourmets won’t eat. Name any animal, fungus or plant and someone has eaten it. That’s even true for a great many inanimate objects. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that people eat and drink human blood. It’s not just Twilight-wannabes or ancient cannibals, either. There are dozens of cultures that consume blood in every possible way. Blood is found in all kinds of food, including drinks, breads, desserts, and protein bars. These are ten of the most unique and unusual blood-based dishes, culled from all over the world.
10 Blood Milk, Kenya
The Maasai, a tribe of people from Kenya and Tanzania, are tribal people. They are known for their traditional lion hunting rituals that were used to ascend to manhood. This was before modern bans on lion hunting. One practice that still draws the Maasai’s attention is their habit of drinking blood.
The Maasai’s existence is heavily dependent on their cattle. Almost the entirety of the tribe’s diet comes from the animals—not just milk and beef but blood as well. The Maasai know how to cut the jugulars from their cattle in the most efficient way to drain their blood, without them dying. They can eat the blood uncooked, make jelly with it, or even mix it in milk to make a savory milkshake.
9 Czernina, Poland
Czernina/czarnina a Polish soup that uses duck as its base, more than any other. The main ingredient in this stew is duck meat. It sets itself apart from similar meat stews with its sweet, sour, and tangy broth—made using the duck’s blood.
The unique quality of the broth is created by combining the blood with vinegar and sweeteners such as honey and fruit syrup. While duck is sometimes substituted with chicken, pork, or rabbit, the stew’s blood is what makes it unique. According to Polish tradition, czernina is used to comfort young suitors who are turned down. I’d want to drink some blood if I was rejected…mostly I’d want to cry, but blood soup is good, too, I guess.
8 Sanguinaccio Dolce, Italy
Blood pudding should be a fairly familiar dish to the U.S. and Europe, so this next one isn’t that bizarre. It’s actually quite tasty when paired with fava beans or chianti.
Sanguinaccio Dolce (Italian sweet blood pudding) is a dish that’s very Italian. Its primary ingredients are what you would expect from a pudding recipe—milk, chocolate, sugar, and possibly flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and/or raisins. It’s the pig’s blood that makes Sanguinaccio Dolce stand out, though.
The sweet treat gained fame when it was featured on season three of Hannibal, a series about the murderer-cannibal with the same name. Hannibal Lector, however, chose to make his Sanguinaccio Dolce with cow’s blood and then with…another kind of blood.
7 Blood Tofu, China
There are about half a dozen different food items that can be found in China. They all have the same meanings. Call it what you will—dark tofu, black tofu, blood tofu, blood curd, among other names. Blood tofu is made from coagulating pig blood to form a thick block of tofu-like consistency.
Travelers in the region may have to deal with dark tofu, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Blood tofu is a traditional vegetarian option for meat. However, blood tofu can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups to rice to noodles to soups, just as tofu.
6 Blodplättar, Sweden
Blodplättar is an interesting meal by itself, as it’s made like an otherwise average pancake but with the addition of whipped blood. But blodplättar is also interesting because it’s the tip of a culinary iceberg.
While blodplättar is a Swedish dish, you can find almost identical recipes all across Europe. It’s also known as filloas en sangre in Spain, which is blood crepes. In Finland, it’s veriohukainen. In Estonia, it’s called verikäkk. And blodplättar is far from alone in Swedish cuisine. Swedes also make blood soup, blood pudding, and blood potato dumplings.
5 Pig Blood Ice Cream, U.S.
Increasingly over the past decade, creameries in the United States have begun experimenting with using pig’s blood in their ice cream. Garret Fleming (D.C. chef) was one of the first to create the recipe. His goal was to combine modern icecream with Italian blood pudding (Sanguinaccio Dolce). The result is thick, rich cream with a stronger mineral taste due to the blood.
Pig’s blood ice cream gained popularity for two other reasons as well. For one, since the fluid is mixed in as a substitute for the egg yolks, which normally thicken the cream into a custard, it makes pig’s blood ice cream an accommodating option for those with egg allergies. Bloody ice cream is a seasonal favorite in the weeks leading up Halloween. You may find ice cream shops offering it under names like “Dracula’s Blood Pudding.”
4 Hematogen, Russia
Although it was invented in 1890 by the Swiss, we have long been associated Hematogen with Russia. The country has been producing its own Hematogen since 1920s. It was used in rations for soldiers during World War II. It is still sold in pharmacies today as a nutritional supplement for children. So what is hematogen exactly? It’s a sweet, chocolatey nutrition bar like a PowerBar. Instead of whey protein, however, it’s made with cow blood. You could probably guess it’s a blood-based food just by looking at the name.
Hematogen can be purchased in shops and is sold as a sweet, healthy snack or as a medical supplement. Its high iron content is said help prevent anemia and increase blood count in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. The bars were sold in stores almost everywhere in Russia and its associated countries before the collapse of USSR. Since then, a scarcity in “black food albumen,” i.e., cow’s blood, has caused the bars to be less ubiquitous.
3 Snake Wine, Southeast Asia
There are many names for snake wine in Asia, and they can be made in many different ways. The common thread that unites all varieties is the fact that they are made from a mixture of wine and snake blood. Many Asian countries eat snake meat. However, the meat must be from non-venomous serpents to be safe. Only denatured proteins can be eaten by venomous snakes. This is why snake wine is so popular.
Most snake wines can be classified as either mixed or steeped. Mixing snake blood and alcohol (typically rice wine) is what creates the mixed variety. You can use any other body fluids, but not venom. The steeped variety involves soaking the entire snake in alcohol and letting it steep for a period of weeks to years. In this case, the venom is safe and denatured. Both types are said to have medicinal properties, primarily for treating male virility problems.
2 Sundae (South Korea)
It would be a shame to close out this article without bestowing some seriously useful advice: do not order a sundae in Korea thinking you’ll get ice cream and hot fudge. Check to verify what type of sundae they are referring to. In Korea, “sundaes” are blood sausages, and though they sound tasty, they would be an unwelcome surprise for anyone seeking a cold, sweet treat.
Sundae comes in many varieties, but all are a vegetarian’s worst nightmare. All are made by steaming cow intestines or pig intestines, and then stuffing them with blood and other ingredient. Sometimes even adding bits of liver or lung. Combining the traditional ingredients of meat and rice with vegetables makes sundae delicious, especially when they are served with gochujang. They’re most common as street food, so at least you’ll probably see which sundae you’re getting.
1 Black Broth, Ancient Sparta
The ancient Spartans are known for their battle prowess and fierceness, as well as the lengths they went in preparation for battle. Spartan black soup or blood soup was one such unconventional preparation.
There is much debate about the black broth. It is disputed whether it was a staple food for Spartans or if it was reserved for special occasions or the wealthy. Historians debate whether Spartans consumed it for strength or celebration. The history of the drink is also a subject of debate. There is no recipe that has been proven to be 100% accurate. It is likely that the broth was a mixture from blood, pork, salt and vinegar. There is evidence to suggest that the broth was reserved for the young while the elderly drank the raw blood instead. The only thing we can be certain of is that the broth contained blood. This is a very Spartan fact.