The Third Leader: Proof in the pudding

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Duty and privilege meet once more in this space as you urgently seek another impartial précis of the arguments followed by a sound judgement on some pressing matter of moment reported in our news pages. Today: the vegetarian black pudding.

There are those who will consider this a fell betrayal by the Real Lancashire Black Pudding Company, which has replaced the pig's blood and ox intestines with beetroot and caramel. Indeed, some Lancastrians have already criticised the possibly unfortunately dubbed "V Pud".

And I'm not surprised, for where there is black pudding, there is passion. Southerners and such employ the pudding as shorthand for the grim earthiness they imagine characterises the red rose county. What they should know is that Homer tells of Agamemnon and his fellow heroes feasting on black pudding: such is the ancient tradition followed by the proud, romantic people of Bury, Bolton and their neighbours.

But it is also fair to say that they like a laugh, too. Have you seen tripe? It has also always been possible, for sound economic reasons, to have the famous Liverpudlian scouse meat stew without meat (when it is known as "blind scouse"). And black pudding ice cream is becoming most popular.

This agreeably relaxed approach to food, and, indeed, much of life, is best summed up by Ramsbottom's annual World Black Pudding Throwing Championship. The contrasting view was put by a visiting Gallic pudding fancier in 2003, who thought the contest "un sacrilège". I know which I prefer. We say: come on, Pierre, try a V Pud!

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