She spoke about the old days, when her parents would make homemade sausage: “I remember one time when my parents and some other Puerto Rican families bought a pig, brought it to backyard and killed it…here in New Britain. I’m sure the neighbors thought we were heathens.”
“You take your spices and marinate them in the blood of the pig,” said Criollisimo’s owner, Brenda Torres, “with oregano, cilantro and garlic all mixed together.” Torres brought out a long, brown uncooked sausage string, about an inch and a half in diameter. After going into the oven, it would come out very dark like ebony, almost black — the color of cooked blood.
Puerto Ricans are just half the reason New Britain is the blood-sausage capital of Connecticut; the other half would be the Poles. If Arch Street, on the south side of downtown, is the place to be to get served Spanish Caribbean blood sausage for lunch, then the Polish strip on the north side is where to go for Polish blood sausage, called kiszka or kaszanka, to take home and cook for dinner. Martin Rossol’s on Grove Street is a popular supplier of Polish sausages throughout the state; however, some Polish-born New Britains swear by Krakus Market on Broad Street.
Barley is what makes Polish blood sausage different from the Spanish variations. Polish variations are fat and stubby compared to Latin American varieties, more blimp-shaped, and are beloved in one form or another by Eastern Europeans from Estonia all the way down to Albania. The barley makes this sausage paler than the rice-filled Colombian morcilla and the even darker Puerto Rican version.
Colombian blood sausage can be found at Antojitos Donde Julio on Hartford’s Park Street. Dominican sausage is at the extreme end of the spectrum, totally black and virtually devoid of grain — an acquired taste. But if you take your sausage black, it can be found at Gran Dominicano, a food stand inside Plaza del Mercado, a mostly Mexican Hartford bazaar on Park Street. Many Connecticut Dominicans don’t know that it’s available locally, assuming that the real thing can only be had “back home.” Still, recent arrivals point out the telltale traces of rice in