One of the highlights of being a foodie in New York is that you don't have to travel far to experience authentically foreign dishes. On the one hand, there's surface level exotic. I'm thinking along the lines of soup dumplings in China Town or Korean BBQ in the West 30's, delectable offerings that are relatively easy for the average appetite to discover. And then there are those transporting experiences that take more leg work, where it helps to be tipped off by locals in the know. Recently, I was the lucky recipient of insider foodie information when I was introduced to sanguinaccio, a truly special Italian pudding.
While sanguinaccio graces the refrigerator shelves of many authentic Italian bakeries in the spring, it isn't easy to come by. The deeply rich, chocolate dessert – more pot de creme than Kozy Shack – is technically illegal. Among hints of cinnamon and pine nuts in the silky concoction is fresh pig's blood, an unusual and contrabandsuspect in American sweets. Traditionally made in southern Italy around Easter, the pudding is thought to have derived as a dolci that tied in with spring slaughters. The taste is richer than average chocolate desserts, but in the version I sampled, there was no irony aftertaste. If you're up on your Latin roots and recognize "sanguin" as relating to blood, then you might have a hint as to sanguinaccio's atypical ingredient. Otherwise, you'd probably enjoy the deep chocolate flavor without knowing its cause.
There might not be a lot of spring slaughtering in the city, but it's possible to find sanguinaccio in NYC if you know where to look. The one I tasted came from a friend, who purchased it at an Italian bakery in Queens. Other likely sanguinaccio-carrying suspects include pasticerria's in Hoboken or Italian-heavy neighborhoods in Brooklyn, like Bensonhurst. Check window displays for hand-drawn signs advertising the delicacy, or pop into bakeries to peruse their cases. When you find it, buon appetito!