16 Weird Ways People Eat Blood Around the World
The idea of eating foods made with blood, even in a cooked dish, is repulsive to many people. That being said, blood is actually a major ingredient in many cultures. People who eat blood aren't necessarily vampires or cannibals, and foods with blood in them can actually be healthy, religious, and downright normal in certain areas. But how does one cook with blood? What kind of food can you make with it? While these questions may be a little dark, they're also fascinating, and this list has the answers for you.
Before we begin, let's say right off that this list is not for squeamish people or the weak of stomach. There's blood in this article, recipes about using it, and some pretty graphic imagery. That being said, if you're a curious and adventurous foodie, we might have a few items here for your bucket list.
So, let's take an in-depth look at all the ways that we see blood used in cooking around the world. It's up to you to decide, by the end of this, if food cooked with blood sounds tasty or just terrifying.
You Can Drink a Shot of Snake Blood in Taipei
The Huaxi Night Market in Taipei is a huge tourist attraction, mostly because it serves very unusual, sometimes creepy, dishes and alcohol. There's deer penis wine, turtle's blood soup, and a huge range of snake-related dishes that cause many to call the place "Snake Alley." One thing you can order here is shots that have snake blood in them, served warm, if you can stomach it. Sometimes you can even get shots of just cobra blood, freshly drained from a snake. While some people call the process cruel or inhumane, it's hard to deny that there's a number of blood dishes and blood drinks here that can be found nowhere else in the world.
There's a Whole Blood Festival in Nepal
Blood may be a staple of many dishes around the world, but in Nepal, there's one time of year where it's pretty much the only thing you'll be eating and drinking. Each November, hundreds of thousands of cattle are slaughtered in a blood festival, to honor the goddess Gadhimai, and they even drink the blood of the slaughtered animals. In a similar festival in the highlands of Nepal, monks drink blood from the veins of live yaks before releasing them, alive. Traditionally, the blood must be drunk raw, while still hot. Whether you're looking at the larger, more well-known slaughtering festival, or the smaller, hot blood-drinking one, Nepal seems to have a theme of blood festivals around autumn and winter.
The Maasai Believe in Drinking Blood Straight from the SourcePhoto: wendylin20 / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
The Maasai people of Africa are of particular note on this list because they drink and eat blood without actually killing their animals. You see, the Maasai use livestock, such as cattle, as their main means of survival. Because of this, they don't exactly want to kill them off too quickly, and instead try to get milk, hair, and even blood from them while keeping them alive and thriving. This diet has been shown to be healthy and far more sustainable than many lifestyles and is still practiced today. Some of them even drink fresh blood, uncooked, straight from the cow's vein, or mixed with a little of its milk. Even if that sounds extreme, you have to admit, you can't get much fresher than that!
Finland's Blodplattar Would Put IHOP to ShamePhoto: Lapplänning / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
When you think of pancakes, chances are you don't think of blood. Well, unless you're from Finland or Sweden. In both of those countries, there's a dish commonly known as Blodplattar, which is basically a pancake made using pork blood. The blood is whipped to give it a thick consistency, mixed with flour, molasses, onion, and a few other spices, then cooked the same way you'd make any other pancake. The finished product is an iron-rich pancake that's often served with sweet fruit jam or syrup or rolled like a crepe. It may not sound like a great breakfast to you, but it's fairly common for people in both those countries.
Spartan Warriors Ate Blood SoupPhoto: Jastrow / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Blood has been an important staple in dishes around the world since ancient times. In particular, the ancient Spartans used it strategically. The black soup, or black broth, is a fabled dish of pork, salt, vinegar, and blood Spartan warriors ate that was supposed to give them strength and power before battle. Considering how well they did in battle, maybe it was working. Though blood-based recipes are still used in Greece today, no detailed recipe of this fabled soup remains. We do know, however, that it involved boiled pork, salt, vinegar. and blood. Needless to say, it was probably a pretty strongly flavored dish.
Blood Is Used to Season Thai Boat NoodlesPhoto: wEnDaLicious / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
One thing that blood is good for is thickening things. It can be added to broths to make them thicker and saltier, to ground meat to make it plumper, and it can even be added to noodles to make them different colors and keep them in one piece. Many Asian dishes utilize this quality well. Thai boat noodle dishes often use cow pig's blood to season the broth. Fresh duck and goose blood is used as a thickener in noodle broths in Nanjing. In fact, if you're traveling abroad and you get a noodle dish that has a dark, thick, or black broth, it's probably worth asking if there's blood in it - just in case.