Saturday, 14 November 2009

Foreign Food

A month or so ago, I read with amusement a post titled, "Top 10 French Foods I Don't Eat." Not speaking much French, I spent quite a bit of time looking up the translation for each dish and found it all quite interesting.

1.) Boudin Noir AKA "black pudding", a basic component of the full English breakfast (or Scottish for that matter; the Irish go for white pudding which is still made with suet). I call these hockey pucks, because that's what they look like to me. I've eaten a few bites just to try it. It's quite salty, which you would think would put it at the top of my favourite foods, but no, the gross factor cancels that out, so I have to agree with Tish on this one.

2.) Ris de Veau I had to laugh. She says that she ordered this in a restaurant on her first visit to France, long before she lived there, thinking it must be some sort of rice, "... that looks safe..." A few years ago Bill and I took a bicycling tour in France and discovered it included two nights at a fabulous chateau. I must tell you more about that trip sometime. At dinner the first night, Bill decided ris d' agneau was something to do with rice and lamb and suggested it for me. I ordered it and ate it all, it was very nice, but nothing to do with rice. We looked it up in Bill's dictionary and all it said was 'laugh of the lamb', leaving us to speculate: what makes a lamb laugh? I was pretty sure I wouldn't care much for the answer. As penance, Bill ordered it himself the next evening. We overheard the conversation between a very elegant gentleman eating alone and Madame. Bill said the man had travelled far for the opportunity to enjoy this very dish. I'm not sorry I ate it, but I probably wouldn't choose it again given a wider choice.

3.) Tripes de Caen. Nope, not likely to eat tripe, though everything else about this recipe (bar the calf's foot) sounds wonderful. Might try it with plain old beef.

4.) Rognons. Again, kidneys are not my first choice. Having said that, I've been known to order steak and kidney pie in a British pub and have lived to tell the tale. I routinely eat calf's liver (with loads of bacon and onion), so why turn up my nose at kidney?

5.) Sanglier. Turns out this is wild boar, which I've never had. I love pork, so I would probably at least try this.

6.) Lapin. There are tons of rabbits around here even in the urban areas. I can't imagine going out of my way to eat a cute little bunny, but then I would have said I couldn't eat duck for the same reason and I do love crispy duck. I expect that if someone served rabbit to me as a guest I would eat it. I didn't like the idea of eating Bambi the first time either, but I enjoy venison very much. Bill says "they say" rabbit tastes just like chicken. I'll let you know if I ever find out.

7.) Cervelle. This translates as 'brains' but I can't find whose brains (apparently it can be anybody's, ie pork, lamb, etc). The internet talks a lot about Cervelle de Canut, which is cheese and herbs and looks like a recipe I might try sometime. As for the animal brains, I think I'll just struggle along without.

8.) Andouille is a type of pork sausage, which according to Wikipedia is associated with Cajun cooking. If the large white spots in the picture were say, onion, and not pork fat, I suspect Bill and I would both eat this, but we have not done so to date.

9.) Tete de Veau is Calf's Head. There is a real life description of having attempted to eat this dish by someone from California. One wonders how this can differ from number 7. The first link says, "Don't try this at home." I think I'll take their advice.

10.) Marrons Glacé are candied chestnuts. I've never had them nor am I likely to, given that I don't have much of a sweet tooth. I ate roasted chestnuts from a street vendor in London one year when Bill and I went down to do Christmas shopping at Harrods and the like. Can't say I cared much for them, but I'm pleased to have given it a go.

She didn't mention frogs legs or snails, but we'll save those delicacies for another post.


Anonymous said...

Rabbit does taste chicken. We had it one New Years Day. My brother snared a couple the day before and since we were having the family over Mother just cooked it like chicken and served it. Everyone thought it was chicked but wondered why the drumsticks were so small. Mother fessed-up before the day was over.


Shelley said...

I'll bet that's how a lot of people first eat new things...unknowingly. I handled the deer meat that what's his face used to bring home after a hunt. If he insisted on doing the butchering himself, though, I insisted on not having to see the fur, the face or the hooves...just the meat. I think it's the bunny fur that would do me in. Once it was anonymous, I could probably cope OK. I'm such a wimp.

FB @ said...

I would try:

Boudin Noir, Ris de Veau (sweetbreads!), Ripes de Caen (I love tripe), Rognons (Er.. iffy on this but I do love liver pate).

Sanglier is DELICIOUS. I had it at an actual hunter's feast and the meat is not quite like beef. I'd say more along the taste/feeling of venison, which I love.

I stuffed myself, and that wild boar was amazing.

Lapin and Cervelle I am not thrilled about. Rabbit is a mental thing for me (BF keeps telling me it tastes like CAT and it grossed me out so much I can't eat it now)

Cervelle.. yeah, I'll leave brains for another day.

Andouille is really popular in Creole cuisine.

Tete de Veau.. does not sound appetizing either.

And Marrons Glace, I tried the paste version of this, and I LOVED it.

BF is a hound for it. He says a certain place in France is renowned for it.

Wow, guess I'm fairly adventurous as long as it doesn't deal with the head :P

Shelley said...

FB - How does your BF know what cat tastes like?

sallymandy said...

So interesting...thank you! My brother gave me James Peterson's French cookbook a few years back, and the chapter on meat is almost nauseating to me. Many of these items would be in that chapter. No, thanks. :)

I appreciate you coming over to my blog recently (The Blue Kimono). I am, in fact, going to be posting pictures of my sweater refashions soon.

You have a lovely blog here.

Rick Stone said...

You won't eat brains? Next time you're in town I guess we won't suggest going to Cattleman's for breakfast. Their breakfast specialty now is Brains and Eggs. The show "Diners, Drive-ins & Dives" just did a segment on Cattleman's on the Food Network. In addition to reporting about their Lamb Fries they showed them cooking up the Brains & Eggs.

Shelley said...

Brains and eggs?! Has the recession bitten that deeply into the agricultural industry? I can forgive the French anything they learned to eat; prior to the revolution people dropped dead from starvation and you do what you have to do.

But US Presidents (Republican ones, anyhow) eat at Cattleman's, which is on my list of restaurants in heaven. Hmmm, I see room here for a snide political joke, but I shall exercise great personal restraint and not make it, as I don't wish this blog to go in that direction and I want to protect everyone's freedom to have their own views...

So, does anyone actually admit to having brains and eggs for breakfast?

Rick Stone said...

Actually, I had a college roommate, at Southwestern State in Weatherford, that loved them. He would buy the calf brains at the supermarket and fix us brains & eggs. They weren't bad but were a little on the dry side.

Shelley said...

Rick - Knowing how you feel about vegetables, I'm dumbfounded that you ever ate calves brains...