Foodie-Not-So-Goodie #1: L’andouillette
I always considered myself an “easy” eater. I can eat everything — except oysters. Or so I thought. Last night, my brother’s friend from San Diego came to Paris for a few days with his family… and we arranged to have dinner together. Being an ex-hotelier, with a vast background in Food & Beverage, it was quite a feat to decide where to bring him. His choice: either a typical French Brasserie or a good Moroccan restaurant with great merguez sausages.
We ended up in Julien, a beautiful old brasserie with a floral glass roof created between 1925-1930. One cannot get any more french than this. Escargot, Confit du Canard, Crêpes Suzette… the works. We scroll down the menu and find that they are serving Andouillettes AAAAA. Now, I have tried to order this at least 2 times before, in various other french brasseries, and each time, the waiter said, “Uhhmmm… non, non, non. Mayy-bee? Iz bettr? … You shooz somtin els?”
Each time, I believed the waiter and went on to order something else!
But not this one evening of celebration with my brother’s Grade-2-best-friend, Mr. F&B Man. He was actually dying to have les andouilletes! So I thought, well… if he is practically LOOKING for it all over Paris, and is just DYING to have it… then it must be good! I also took notice of the 5 A’s beside the fateful word “Andouillettes.” I figured — hmmm, that probably shows how premium this Andouillette must be! He gets not only one Grade A, he gets 5! So, voila! We will have two of les andouilletes, s’il vous plait.
Chat, chat, chat… and suddenly, yay! Our food! The waiter ever-so-gently lays the plate in front of me, and I see him from the corner of my eye, almost looking like … “Well, let’s just see how THIS goes!” And just as I examine the plate before me, I get this whiff of… undescribable odour. Like something I smelled once too often in the slimy metro stations of Paris. Absolutely foul, offensive, and down-right repulsive. Yep. It was my bloody andouillette, nicely propped on a bed of french fries. My order, plus my “seatmate’s” order … the stench just doubling up in strength!
GAK. I discreetly turn my head away from my plate to gasp for some air.
My daughter is happy with her Confit du Canard… and I try to be a good example by eating whatever it is that I order. So, I try to be mature about it, and nonchalantly slice the sausage. Unlike what is normally characteristic of most sausages, this one didn’t cut neatly into one slice. No sir-ee! When I sliced THIS sausage, the insides sort of crumbled, and on to my plate rolled these tiny little pieces of chitterlings. Yes, chitterlings. Otherwise known as: diced lumpy pieces from the intestines of a very stinky pig.
I maintain my composure and quickly shove the chitterlings into my mouth, just like any mature adult would do. Why prolong the agony, right?
Double GAK! A real one this time. I must have turned pale because I put my hand on my mouth, thinking that I was literally going to throw up! I am not exaggerating. This was N.A.S.T.Y.!!! It tasted just as bad as it smelled! Geeeeeeeeezzz, Louise!!!
I looked at my brother’s friend, Mr. F&B Man, and he was happily chomping on his andouillette — savoring every chunk, every flavor, every scent of it — just like it was an old friend.
I swallowed hard, very hard, and … just like a mature lady… I looked for the closest waiter and said, “Monsieur, un Confit du Canard, s’il vous plait.”
Believe it or not, Mr. F&B Man took my little piece of untouched andouillette… and wiped his plate, and mine, squeaky clean. Now. That’s what I call Superman!
P.S. Remember those 5 A’s? Google will tell you that it is an acronym for “Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentiques.” In English: The Friendly Association of Authentic Andouillette Lovers. Are you freakin’ kidding me??? I know what Club I’m not joining!
Another P.S. Just to complete our education on l’andouillette: During the colonial times in the U.S., hogs were slaughtered in December, and the preferred cuts of meat were reserved for the master’s use. The remains, such as fatback, snouts, ears, necks, bones, feet, and intestines, were then fed to the slaves. Cheap food, right? The wealthier masters (to me, smarter!) though considered these inards so inedible that they were buried as garbage!
Uh-oh. Garbage? I won’t even go there. Nor the Swine Flu.
Morale of the Story: The Waiter knows best.
Next time you see something like this, pinch your nose and slowly walk away… just like any mature person would do! 🙂