Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blood and Guts, Literally: Stonehell Sausage Making

After a couple of weeks of threatening to start contributing to the Lands of Ara blog, I'm finally on it, with this episode bringing you the adventures of Uncle Junkal (Bard) and Innominus (Cleric) in their real-world incarnations doing a (hopefully) recurring food segment for Lands of Ara.

Just so you know where I, thoust Spawn of Endra, stand: I think food is Old School. I've been eating food since 1973. I had my lunches in those Little Brown Bags through the 70s and 80s, and even when Hasbro bought out the license to food, I still ate the food I wanted to eat the way I wanted it cooked every day ... several times a day, in fact! Except when I was traveling: then it behooves one to accept the local fare. Anyway ....

So a Cleric and a Bard ... let's get the easy yuks out of the way. There'll be no "Innominus casts Cure Lite Ham", or "Uncle Junkal casts Charm Guests". When we play Lab Lord we skin dead humanoids (and wear the skins as disguises) and fire bomb their temples before you can say boo. When we get together to cook, it's going to be serious. The other day, we attempted to make what must be the staple of the Oldest of the Sausage-Making Schools: Blood Sausage.

I have experience with blood sausage (aka BLACK PUDDINGS! Don't try to test how Old School I am ... I ate the Monster Manual for breakfast in Europe when I was 5 years old!) since I was a little kid visiting family in Ireland. Uncle Junkal's player had some positive experiences with a Korean form of blood sausage, soondae. I never found a suitable recipe for making an Irish version, and we decided to move forward with the soondae following this recipe. And so we hunkered down for a session more than twice as long as our usual gaming session: 9 hours.

Here's the first cogent admonishment:

"We're goin' to Hell! You better know how to make blood sausage fool! It's all you're gonna get!"

And we're off! Most of the stuffing is sweet rice and sweet potato noodles, and of course blood. Here we see two little gelatinous blobs of congealed pig blood from a blood farm in Washington state:

The one on the bottom separated along a stratum of fat or plasma and one half fell on the floor. Luckily we could clean it, but this was only the beginning of the bloodshed. (Does Raggi have a module where there's a tool shed literally full of blood? Probably.) Uncle Junkal started to work the stuff with a +1 potato masher and eventually added Bigby's Squelching Hand.

Then of course we have the guts. Again we are using pig parts, obtained from a local butcher. These are called 'casings' in the lingo of the pros, not intestines or guts, if you need to impress somebody or pose as an international sausage expert (and after this experience, I don't recommend posing at this kind of thing; the truth will out). These are cheap, $1.79. Cheaper than an Old School pdf.

Here's some dialog that accompanies this screenshot from the video:

SOE: "That's something like 8 or 10 feet, the [butcher] lady thought, of guts shoved onto a ... industrial automotive funnel. And then we're going to squeeze into that -- with a dowel that we bought -- chopped with a machete ... fans of machetes will recognize that style of chopping (if I can get it into focus) ...

but we're going to use THIS end, obviously [the flat squared-off end].

UJ: "That'll be interesting, I'll film you doing that.

SOE: "Excellent!"

Of course it was all high hopes at that point. Crueler realities lay ahead. Once these were packed and made to look all sausagey (I mean those DO look like real sausages, right?):

and the boiling process began, what was meant by "don't pack the stuffing too tightly or the sausage may split open during cooking" became clear. You've got token quantities of blood, and you've got under-cooked rice and glass noodles as stuffing ... then you're going to boil them for 45 minutes. Any dipshit not entangled in this situation knows what will happen. As the boiling proceeded, Uncle Junkal and I start to see these sausages we packed burst open one after another and the contents boil away into a sorry sorry gruel:

I never read Oliver Twist, but I hope that little bastard wasn't pleading for this swirling bucket of junk. Bad scene. UJ correctly proposed puncturing the boiling sausages and I pulled some of them out to bake, neither of which prevented a massive loss of sausages ...

Was it a TSK? No. ONE god-damned Ishmael of a sausage survived the boiling, still tethered embryonically to his neighboring links; and four or five non-exploded baked sausages survived. But this image of one of the exploded remnants still connected to the links that were baked sums up the grotesquerie. It started out ~6" long (click to enlarge, seriously):

The first cat I had as a kid (she was named Greycloud by my sister) left something quite similar to this on our doorstep one night, which at first I took to be the guts of some rodent, or maybe an opposum, and then eventually realized had a fetus in it. Or maybe this is a phantasmagoria of misremembrance. Anyway, it looked a lot like this.

So, after all that we ate the ones (the sausages, I mean, not Greycloud's entrail-offerings) that survived with some bok choy that UJ stir-fried, and god damn it these are pretty bland sausages. Really no spices, no pepper ... if you're at the point where you're so desperate you're keeping blood for food, add some salt! The recipe itself I think is a crappy recipe. I can't imagine that soondae is normally this bland, given the general spiciness of Korean cuisine. Even the Irish, to whom spices outside of pepper are almost unknown, pack a lot of flavor into their blood puddings. Death to this recipe.

But, the idea was to learn some things about Old School sausage making. I imagine we made something on the par of what an adventurer might get as part of an average meal at a tavern in some medievaloid setting (3 cp). As my experiences elsewhere have shown, poor subsistence farmers and "tavern owners" in regions where subsistence is the main mode of food acquisition don't have the access to meat that folks in industrialized economies enjoy (i.e, they don't eat meat every day). The predominantly meat sausage (as opposed to a largely grain-based filler sausage) as a norm must be a relatively recent development; though probably of course this relates to industrialization and the ability to 'recover' or 'mechanically separate' meats and other edible bits like integument, shredded tendons and glands that can then be economized into sausages as 'meat'. Anyway, there are books written on this stuff, by people with knowledge, not me.

Onward to Stonehell!


  1. Bloody good read, don't you know. Egads,

    Drunken Dak

  2. My motto is: If it can't taste bloody, it should at least read bloody.

    Stab goat with a chicken.

  3. More gaming and food posts! Everyone wins!

    I should probably start working on my Cocktail Monster Manual. :)