I’m no stranger to danger. My parents would once a week eat a stuffed lamb’s heart each. Something I used not to enjoy myself, but I was happy eating trotters, liver, kidneys and all the rest of what the French called’les restes’.Of course back then there were no convenience foods – burgers were people who lived in Calais.
These days the people who eat the scary bits are usually immigrants from what we like to call Third World countries; their butchers are full of pieces of animal that most native Brits would not be able to identify, mostly because they are looking from behind their fingers.
People who have come from places where food is scarce do not have the luxury of picking and choosing only the finer cuts. And while we in the UK have lost touch with the food of our grandparents, the French still eat nose to tail and Stephane Reynaud, a very French chef, has this book to help us do the same.
His family were butchers and his mother would make cheap, tasty and nutritious meals out of the meats his grandfather brought home. White Offal which needed to be first blanched, bleached and cleaned – feet, brains, spinal cord, tripe, head, ears and udder – and red offal which includes lungs, heart, liver, snout etc.
Still with me or have you run to the bathroom? Okay so what does Stephane do with this lovely stuff? Well he kicks off with the less contentious, liver. Most of us eat liver even if only as pate. Calves’ and lambs’ liver is popular enough to be found on the meat counter of any supermarket and these recipes are simple but effective such as lamb’s liver with caramelised apples or pork terrine with fruit and nuts.
Eased in we can try something a little trickier like pan-fried sweetbreads or sweetbread pie , sweetbread is the thymus gland and like all the bits is explained and described in detail. There are recipes for those trotters, some with the foot in all its glory, some where it is disguised a bit.
Oxtail is regarded as a low class meat too, but it is in fact one of the most flavour packed of all cuts and here comes as a kind of shepherd’s pie as well pot au feu. Curried pork cheeks, veal tongue salad, smoky pork tongues and head and heart all get a look in and the overall effect is either very mouth-watering or a bit sickening depending on your personal feeling.
A great book packed full of recipes for food many of us will desperately want to eat, presented soberly, in detail and with a certain relish, Tripe is not rubbish. Get a copy and get brave.