Well, to be honest, it didn't look anything like a duck. I don't even know if it tasted like duck, not having tried it before, but it certainly didn't quack like one.
Trigger Warning: if you have a problem with the graphic description of meaty dishes, get a paper bag ready.
In the continued search for a pig's blood dish, we settled for duck's blood instead, and unlike the soups I'd seen, with cubes of congealed blood, this dish came was a thin pool of congealed blood on a saucer sized plate covered in chunks of unrecognisable meat, bones, seeds and leafy greens. Tung, my trusty culinary companion who advises me on how to eat Vietnamese dishes, suggested adding ripped up leaf of some sort, squeezing a mini lime over the dish and adding some pepper, which I did. I'm truly not sure any of it helped.
The trick, for me, with eating odd foods like this, was with mind over matter. Thousands of people eat this every day, it's not going to kill me, and I'll probably regret it if I don't try. So in I dig.
It's really not that bad - it's quite irony (like iron, not like having ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife*), the texture is quite inoffensive (and I'm quite particular about the texture of foods), and the various items lying on the top really don't do much to stop your brain thinking that you're eating a pool of congealed blood!
* yes, yes, this isn't irony. Ironic, eh? No? Oh well, read on...
I put it down to the fact that I don't eat blood often, rather than my mind losing the will to be over matter, but as I reached the last three or four spoonfuls, I was beginning to detect the minor gag reflex trying to elbow its way in on the party. But, I had finished the meal, survived, and obtained content for my blog post i the process.
The the next round came. Soup. With lumps of boiled blood, and some meaty looking substances. I added some more pepper and garlic oil. It might have helped, I can't honestly say. The blood really wasn't bad, it was mostly flavourless (or more correctly the flavour of soup) with a texture of soft tofu. Some of the meat was a little like fatty chicken and had thin, soft bone attached to it, while the other meat was a homogenous texture, a little thicker than the blood. I find it's useful not to know what I'm eating when I try it at first, to clear my mind of prejudice. That fact that the first mystery meat was stomach didn't phase me; the second was liver.
Segue: I was just finding a reference for a statement I was about to make about avoiding eating liver, because it's the filter of the body and can collect heavy metals, which aren't ideal for human consumption. This article at Mark's Daily Apple disputes this theory; so I may have to reconsider. Right - back to the scheduled programme:
My partner, who's a nutritional therapist amongst other things, advised me I might feel stronger after consuming blood. Also, the fact that men don't let blood means I may experience a fluctuation in iron levels that my body isn't generally used to. I don't know if it was psychosomatic, but as I monitored my reaction to the food, I did notice an increase in something in my body. It's hard to describe, as I'm not used to the sensation, but if you imagine the sensation of becoming full from eating, this was like something else in my body was getting full. As I write this, I feel a sensation of the blood vessels in my arms swelling, almost throbbing. How odd and wonderful the body is!
In any event, it was a thoroughly interesting and fantastic experience, both to taste a new food, and observe my bodily reaction to it. I don't think I'll be eating it again in a hurry, but I'm sure glad I did it once!