There Will Be Blood

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The sanguinaccio at Villabate Bakery

"Are you really going to eat that?" asked the young clerk, wrinkling up her beringed nose. "Well, I'm going to try it," I said, "And then I'm going to feed it to my friends." She laughed.

I was buying a $5 tub of sanguinaccio, a chocolate pudding usually made before Easter in the city's Italian bakeries. Usually, it's offered with no fanfare and no sign, and you have to look for the plastic tub among the colorful pastries and cakes. That's because sanguinaccio is not your typical My-T-Fine chocolate pudding -- it's made with fresh pig blood. Sanguinaccio is a specialty of Naples, according to Waverly Root in The Food of Italy.

I was meeting some friends at a Sichuan restaurant and they were a little late, and I'd strayed into the marvelous Villabate Bakery, one of the foremost makers of sculpted marzipan in the world. When I saw it in the refrigerator case, I knew immediately what it was.

After I got home that evening, I pulled off the top to admire my purchase. It glistened darkly, far more darkly, in fact, than the flash photo above shows. I gingerly tried a bite. It tasted just like chocolate pudding, but with a gritty texture, and was shot with walnuts. But wait a minute. There was a slight salty undertaste that grew with time into an aftertaste. Was this going to be my favorite chocolate pudding? Certainly not. But if I happened to be in the neighborhood, and was craving chocolate, I wouldn't say no. 7001 18th Avenue, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, 718-331-8430

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