“A cook turns a sausage, big with blood and fat, over a scorching blaze, without a pause to broil it quick” a quote from Homer’s Odyssey was most likely referencing a blood sausage (Kishka) such as pictured to the left is of Slavic origin and literally means “gut” or “intestine”. Traditionally blood sausage is found in many cultures and is very similar to Boudin Noir and Black Pudding. In the United States, Kishka can be typically found in restaurants and grocery stores that serve the Polish and eastern European ethnic / immigrant communities. The casing is typically filled with pork blood, buckwheat or barley and a variety of seasonings and spices. In lieu of pork blood, cow blood is also offered. Aside from being exposed to blood sausage through friends or family, there are relatively few references to this delicacy in American culture. The most notable reference would be in Jame Michener’s epic novel Poland where he describes the making and cooking the sausage by the peasants after the landlord butchered a pig.
If one can get past their personal aversion to eating blood (there are far worse things that we consume daily), the pleasure in the flavor and taste of cooked Kishka is truly one of the great experiences that is so difficult to find in the United States. I was first exposed to Kishka as a child on holidays when my Polish relatives would bring a coil of blood sausage to my father from New Jersey. Typically it was eaten grilled with onions and served with pan fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. I do not recall eating it very often or enjoying the meal, but with many things as one grows older they begin to appreciate the memories of their youth. Kishka is one of those memories. As I grew older, my father had sourced a location of Kishka in Philadelphia and when I would come home from the holidays, there would be a breakfast in which the sausage was served. It was not until recently did I discover a Polish restaurant and grocery store Polonia in Houston, TX that I could enjoy this treat of my youth. Kishka is served on a sizzling platter of grilled onions and served with pickles, mustard and rye bread. In addition to eating it in the restaurant, the sausage can also be purchased in their store which is located a block from the restaurant.
The Polish community in Houston is not large and despite the historical wave of immigrants from Germany and the Czech Republic, there is a limited selection of eastern European restaurants. For those that enjoy good food and want to expand their palate, eating a link of grilled Kishka with onions is a rare treat in Houston.