The date was December 30, 2020. We had driven to this little hot pot supply store in Richmond to pick up some tofu for New Year’s Eve hot pot dinner. While grabbing my usual selection of bean curd and other soy products, I noticed this tasty-looking “blackberry jelly pudding” on one of the refrigerated aisles. Quick scan of the ingredients told me it should be vegan, so I eagerly grabbed one to try.
Low Calorie Snack Option?
At home, upon closer inspection of the nutrition facts, I was even more thrilled! 14.8 cal for 1/3 of the package?! This had the potential to be a great low-cal snack. However, I was also suspicious. How could the calories be this low when it looked like sugar and glucose syrup were both on the ingredients list? There was no artificial sweetener to be seen.
At 14.8 cal per 100 g, sweetened with juice, sugar and glucose syrup, this jelly pudding couldn’t possibly be very sweet. So, even though I was excited, I didn’t get my hopes too high, because if diet foods have taught me one thing, it’s that they never taste as good as you expect them to be.
With my enthusiasm thus moderated, I proceeded to peel off the packaging, which took me three minutes, four tissue napkins, and a lot of internal cursing. Seriously, the glue that attached the edges of this container to the cover was insane. I made quite a mess trying to get it open.
As I was wiping the spilled liquid that had leaked out during my struggle, I licked a little bit to get a taste. Here was the first sign of strangeness: it wasn’t sweet. In fact, it didn’t taste like much of anything… a little sour, mostly. Not very good.
Blackberry Pudding Betrayal
I continued on, ripping away the rest of the cover, and recoiled in horror. The sight before my eyes was absolutely not blackberry jelly pudding!! In fact, I recognized it as something that was not vegan at all: PORK BLOOD.
For those who don’t know, congealed pork blood or blood tofu (豬血) is a popular Chinese delicacy. I used to like eating this stuff quite a lot when I was a kid. It’s also an ingredient commonly found in hot pot.
But still holding out hope for my blackberry pudding, I tentatively dug a spoon into the middle and gave it a lick. Yup, the texture was definitely what I remembered of pork blood, and the taste, redolent of pungent iron, confirmed it. So there went my lovely afternoon snack. At least there was a silver lining: my boyfriend’s parents, who enjoy blood pudding, ate it all later that night at dinner.
I’ve read many accounts of people who have been accidentally served meat, from getting real beef instead of Beyond Burger at a fast food drive thru to being offered fish “bEcAuSe FiSh IsN’t MeAt” at family reunion dinners. Now I can say it’s finally happened to me, in the most Asian way possible. ?
Maybe it’s on me for lacking the critical thinking skills to wonder why a store that otherwise only sold hot pot and BBQ items would randomly carry a package of pudding. But come on dude! I trusted you, blackberry jelly pudding!