Andouillettes. Here we have a subject that can be guaranteed to crop up now and then at Salut!, chiefly of course because it takes very little - my occasional fix or the onset of overpowering withdrawal symptoms - to get me thinking about it.
Readers detecting a need to suppress a weary sigh of déjà vu may wish to explore another posting, or indeed another Salut! site. If you should choose to stick around, however, this may be fun.
The photograph shows my newly served pre-theatre dinner on the corner of rue Blanche, in the 9th arrondissement, a couple of weeks ago.
The occasion was my visit, described here in a previous posting, to the Petit Théâtre de Paris for something non-andouillette, non-football regulars may be heartily tired of hearing about, Sunderland the play. And I could not behave well enough to avoid dropping in a reference to dinner in a separate account of the evening at Salut! Sunderland.
The justification for another look at one of my favourite dishes comes in the response of the warm, witty and wise Sunderland supporters who visit that site or belong to the Blackcats e-mail list, which draws a consistently high level of discussion (frequently off-piste) from people scattered around the world.
Let battle commence, initially at Salut! Sunderland:
Did you actually EAT that thing?
A good one’s REALLY good, Eric. You just have to steel yourself for the first bite.
As for the sausage – give me a Borrowdales special from Godfrey’s in Shildon (Co Durham).
After which debate moved to the Blackcats list:
You have reminded of my own encounter with 'saucisson a l'andouilette' at a small roadside restaurant in the east of France when driving to Italy in 1981. The waitress looked aghast when I ordered it using my best A Level French (don't think it was my accent...) and I still remember her words "Mais, vous serez degoute..." but I persevered and she was delighted that I had enjoyed it. It was only afterwards that I looked it up and realised what I'd eaten...
Love it, Andy. Something I once found on Wikipedia, but seems to have disappeared, fills in some of the detail (my memory is that it got worse): "Traditional andouillette is made from the colon and the stomach of pig. In modern times, contents vary and normally contain intestines of pig, cow and/or calf. It is not to be confused with andouille sausage, which is much spicier, but more mild in animal-derived smells." I have never minded the farmyard smell. And I love shocking people by professing my own love of the dish.
Andouilette. My experience with that was like Larry Lloyd's caps for England. My first was my last. Never to be repeated, and I did know what I was eating.
Me too, Jeremy. Only in France could they present such a load of rubbish (literally) and pretend its a delicacy. I don't have a problem with most offal and love haggis, black & white pud etc, but the andouillette is just taking the p***. Me
Good knockabout stuff, Mick. Leaves more for me. I may need counselling for this but would choose andouillette as my last meal, with lots of chips and Dijon mustard. I accept it may be anacquried taste, and even smell, but I love it. And of course it is completely illogical to damn andouillete whe being perfectly OK with, for example, dried blood. The French have plenty to answer for. Not being good at food isn't one of them.
I don't know about my last meal, but other than that - spot on! I got introduced to this delicacy by a French colleague whilst working in Paris and I love it.
If I had to choose a last meal it would be a toss-up between my mum's leek broth with suet dumplings or an Entrecote steak at the "Le Relais de Venise" in Paris on a good night. I would recommend anyone who's having a holiday in Paris to check it out http://www.relaisdevenise.com/. You can't book, you just have to queue up with the locals and apart from how you want your steak cooked there's no choice at all until the dessert course. On a good night it's the food of the gods. I think I'd better go for a lie-down before I come over all funny
As witnessed in the curry thread, I love food so much I'm prepared to argue all day about it.
I'm not saying they're not good at food. I'm only criticising the andouillette, and there's nothing at all illogical about it. The point about dried blood (or anything else) isn't that it's blood, but what it tastes like. The bits of innards you find in the andouillette are hardly even digestible. They're made of rubbery stuff which we're not supposed to eat unless there's an emergency at the level of a nuclear war. It's like eating your own stomach and your own lips. How do you know when you've started or finished?
MeAnd if I don't feel like I'm eating my bum if I have rump steak, or my congealed blood if I have black pudding why should I think that way about andouillette? In fact this is no more than an exchange of views on what we do and don't like, I find excellent taste in andouillette, even when deprived of Dijon mustard for any reason, but accept others either dislike ot or are repulsed by the thought. I do admit that texture is important. I wouldn't eat snails if they were not served in garlic butter sauce.
After spraying coffee over my laptop, I had to ask my wife to pause Call The Midwife while I read this to her, Mick. Funniest thing you've written for ages.
Mick Goulding (answering my question)
... because it contains matter which isn't food. If the stuff which makes the bags which we call stomach/bladder etc was digestible then your own stomach/bladder would dissolve. And then you'd have a smell to rival the andouillette.
And in a final message, consenting to my reproduction of his comments above, Mick robbed me of all moral high round by declaring: "None of it is important enough to be precious about. By the way, I love French food (and France), I just think the andouillette is an obnoxious abberration."
The Salut! jury may now retire, before I start on leek broth ...