Boudin Noir

Boudin Noir

I’m not one of those “extreme eaters” and I doubt you’ll ever see me on one of those television shows showing off how brave I am, boasting about eating Lord-knows-what. In fact, I am the opposite end: I’m a defender of those who don’t want to eat certain things. Who cares what other people’s food preferences are?*

A few years back I got to cook with Andrew Zimmern, the host of “Bizarre Foods” who had come to France. To be honest, I didn’t know who he was because I’ve been away from the States for a while. I was amazed when we went to my local market to shop on a sleepy Sunday morning, when suddenly, out of the woodwork, swarms of Americans descended on him. (Notice I said “him” and not “us” – hrrmmph!)

But being the gentleman that I am, I stepped aside to let the crowd through. And after spending a day with him, I’d have to agree: Next time I see him, I’m going to swarm him (again), too. He is one of the loveliest and most fun people I’ve ever met.

Boudin Noir

As much as I kind of fell for him, I still don’t share his proclivity for eating all sorts of oddities, although I am sometimes curious about them. People have asked me, “Why are Americans so squeamish about what they eat?” which is rather odd because Americans eat a lot of hot dogs – and Lord knows what’s in those…and some eat whatever is in that packet of orange powder that comes with boxed macaroni & cheese. (Which I recently bought on a whim because I saw it in a store, which was definitely not as good as I remembered.) And I have French friends who would never eat rabbit, kidneys, brains, or any of les autres abats (offal).

I don’t want to stereotype either, but last time I was in California, there were two twenty-something women dining next to us at Zuni. Both looked like they may have just come from a pilates class. One of them ordered a burger, pushed away the bun (carbs!) and took her knife and fork to the meat patty and salad. The other ordered the boudin noir, and proceeded to dive into it when it landed in front of her. I was intrigued because it’s not something one often sees on menus in America, or even in France anymore. So I just had to ask her, “How is it?” (Not because I wanted to know if it was any good, because if it was at Zuni, I’m sure it was excellent, but because I needed a conversation starter and I wanted to know why she ordered it in the first place.)

Boudin Noir

I like various kinds sausages, especially merguez, and will indulge in an occasional hot dog – hello Top Dog in Berkeley! (And, er…Costco. But mostly for the condiments.) But tend not to overdo it in the “what-kind-of-meat-is-in-this-thing-?” department. Yet recently I was invited to a friend’s home and when I arrived, she was frying up rounds of boudin noir. And they were the best bites of boudin I’d ever had. So shortly after, I went over to the rue de Nil, to the butcher shop of Terroirs d’Avenir, where the focus is on meat from sustainable sources. And if you’re going to eat products made from part of animals that filter things, you should probably make sure they’ve been fed something that doesn’t require a lot of icky stuff to get trapped in their filters.

Boudin Noir

The butcher had two kinds of boudin noir (known elsewhere as blood sausage, black pudding, or morcilla, in Spain). One was from the Basque region, which looked juicy and plump, but he warned me away. “They’re really, really fatty. Too fatty for most people.” He steered me toward the boudin noir from the Jura, the mountainous region of east-central France where Comté and Mont d’Or cheeses are made. I guess since they get so much fat from Comté and Mont d’Or, they need to make up for it with leaner sausages.

Boudin Noir

I took my wiener(s) home, heated some oil in a pan, and sliced my sausages up to cook them. Curiously, they’re a soft chocolate-brown color when you slice into them. But when sliced and pan-fried, which I think it the best way to cook them, they become pitch black as they crisp up. Boudin noir** is best paired with sautéed apples, and nothing else, really. Except maybe a little bit of courage.

*I’ve never understood why, if you don’t like something, people say, “You don’t like _______? Well, you’ve never had my __________…..” And I just want to reply, “I don’t want it. Leave me alone.”

**That said, you should give boudin noir a try. Even if you don’t think you’d like it.

Related Links and Recipes

Blood sausage recipe (Honest Food)

Morcilla (Serious Eats)

Homemade blood sausage (Wrightfood)

Spaghetti with black pudding and tomato sauce (Eat Like a Girl)

Estonian Blood Sausage (The Paupered Chef)


  • David, coming from San Francisco to Paris in a week and then again over Christmas. Wondering if many restaurants stay open or do a Christmas dinner? If you know any? Can swap for information? PB? Specific goodies from SF? Here you must try Clonakilty Black Pudding from Co Cork in Ireland. DELICIOUS if you can get your hands on some! Zimmerman is a Minnesotan as well I believe? Sure we eat Lutafisk! Another must try ; )

    • I don’t need anything from the states, but many places in Paris do close for the holidays. Since they’re not for 11 months away, it’s not possible to say what is open, but my friends at publish a list before Christmas and New Year’s, noting which places stay open.

    • David if you allow me, some extra answer to Brittany. As a Parisian I avoid going to restaurants on Xmas or New Year’s eve. The good ones are closed most of the time, and most of those that are open charge a lot for poor food , get some confetis.. Maybe not the atmosphere you are looking for.
      I always treat my children to a nice outing on the 30th of December. That’s better ( 2 years ago we indulged in Jean François Piège and loved it, one year it was at 1728 by La Madeleine) and on the 31st we all go to friends’, buy some good food at nice caterers, oysters, champagne … but avoid restaurants.
      David I hope you agree with this …

      • Ah cheers thanks so much for the tips! Looking to avoid crowds and any sort tourist at the holidays traps! Will just get some local bits and cook a Christmas meal with champagne in our wee Paris holiday apartment. Go for a stroll and work off the dinner! Or open a second bottle and enjoy ourselves…Sounds perfect so, that’s exactly what I needed to hear! Thanks again David and Martin. Can’t wait to get my hands on some hot cocoa and pastries!

        • Thanks Brittany … I am sure David could recommend many good shops to buy from… I can help a little bit.
          David, I just strolled the 9th most of the day with some friends from Seattle, unfortunately at one point it was raining so much that it was not so nice. We ate at La Regalade conservatoire always nice food and smiling welcome ; then we wanted to buy some sandwiches at Castro on rue Cadet following your advice, but they were closed ..; window looked so appetizing… We’ll try another time …

          • All sounds good. Really looking forward to check out how much Marais has changed. Think apartment is in the 5th. Heading to MORA in the 13th to hopefully help fill up luggage for the return and Patisserie Viennoise in the 8th for hot cocoa. A market recommendation would be brilliant, or will just wander around and find my own vegetables and cheeses. Not sure what cookery the apartment will have. Am content with the company and strolling the city, getting lost is my favorite part of any holiday. Thanks again for the recommendations! So kind of you!

          • Love Mora, Dehillerin in the First ( are we talking about the same thing ? cooking utensils for professionals ? ) as they are in my area. for the rest, I will let David answer….
            Enjoy Paris, your hot cocoa ( at Angelina’s?or Pâtisserie Viennoise in the 6th ), your markets, food …

  • David,

    years ago at the Pike Street market in Seattle they sold what they called Boudin Noir but it was … blanc. I think the girl was from Louisiana. Strange that they reversed the color.

    Thank you for admitting you are a picky eater. So am I and I will certainly not try “just anything”, even just once.

    Boudin noir is what americans call an acquired taste. I respect the ones who did not acquire it.

    Rognons de veau is another food considered strange. Here it is a delicacy (had it for lunch today, really delicious, my american friend tried it and liked it). You should write about it some day.


  • I don’t really get it why it seems to be such a overcoming to try new things. I mean you can spit it out if you don’t like it. Okay maybe it’s because I’m Asian and we eat a lot of weird things…

    I’m not judging or anything just curious.

    • So surprised that everyone is calling this “new”. We called it blood sausage, and it was a regular at our house. I grew up with it. With the “latest” being use all of the animal, no wastiing, That is how it was in the 40’s and 50’s.
      What has happened to make people so squemish about food? Just so hard to believe.
      These items were made as part of butchering.