Monday, January 12, 2009

HALL OF FAME OF PORK (VII)


Behold the andouillette de Troyes. Rarely a crowd-pleaser, sometimes a room-clearer, and not to be confused with either the firmer, smoked French andouille sausage or its distant Cajun relative, a good andouillette is a fine and noble thing made of coarse and ignoble stuff. Specifically it is a loose assemblage of pig parts, roughly two parts large intestine to one part chopped stomach, stuffed into more intestine. Cut into one and—well, fragrant is the polite way to put it.

Ed Behr, in an excellent story about andouillette in the latest issue of his always excellent journal The Art of Eating quotes a former prime minister of France and mayor of Lyon who put it this way: "Politics is like an andouillette, it should smell a little of shit but not too much."

I first tasted an andouillette somewhere in Lyon about ten years ago. Half enjoying, half put off by the steamy funk, I liked it enough to eat them again every now and then in Paris since then. The flavor is…I was about to write "earthy" but that's wrong: it is deeply animal-y. I've had some good ones (and a couple of literal stinkers) but never a great one until last week, following Behr's suggestions, I made my way the tiny l'Estaminet d'Arômes et Cépages in the Marché des Enfants Rouge, a covered market in the Marais. The andouillette served here is from La Charcuterie Daniel Thierry, considered the best in Troyes. Grilled to a papery crispness on the outside, the smell was mild but the taste of the meat was deep and alluring. As usual Ed Behr gets it precisely right : "A good andouillette is rich, meaty, tender, and—almost like some distant, suspect relative of a truffle—highly sensual."

Funkadelic.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

MR. ADAM GOES TO LUXEMBOURG


My friend Pavone and his family recently moved to Luxembourg. Over in the friends' column on the right of this page, I've got a link to his blog about living and cooking there. It's really good—both the writing and, as it turns out, the actual living and cooking there. Sunday I took the TGV from Paris to Luxembourg (two hours in pitch black; there could be a tunnel there for all I know) to stay with them for a couple of days. I'd never been to Luxembourg, was a little skeptical of its existence and, after a fun week, needed sleep and tennis. Pavone picked me up at the train station. He is by birth and temperament and fierce loyalty a true New Yorker, so it was a fun to find him standing by an idling Audi in the icy dark of middle Europe. He expertly guided the Audi through a kind of stone slalom of ancient roads back to his apartment which, as promised, was directly across the street from the Grand Duke's palace. (He looks out on the back of the palace; I took the picture above early the next morning after waking unaccountably early). I got to hang out with his excellent almost-five-year-old boys, Sam and Alex, who decided to call me "Mr. Adam". This at first seemed slightly formal, deferential, fitting given the proximity of the ducal palais where foreign heads of state are welcomed. By day two however the boys had taken to pinning me into the kitchen with a plastic sword and screaming so that all the world's last remaining grand duchy would know, "Mr. Adam is a monster!" Pavone roasted a blue-legged Bresse chicken. In the morning we played tennis at a sports complex in Kockelscheuer that also housed badminton courts and a pizzeria. So I'm happy to report that Luxembourg exists and my friends seem well there. After I'd left for Paris, Pavone reported this verbatim exchange with his all-knowing all-seeing kinder.
"Why can't Mr. Adam stay?" [Alex asked]
I told him that you needed to get back to New York.
"Why?"
Because you had a job, I said, and you needed to get back to it.
"Job?" he asked, looking at me incredulously, actually shaking his head.
"Mr. Adam doesn't have a job."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

IF IT HAS TO BE A SALAD


If the first thing you eat in the new year has to be a salad, then: Eat it in Paris. In a friendly, funny old place. Share it with someone nice. Make sure it has fresh, perfectly cooked eggs on top. And a lot of cured duck ham. And gesiers confit. And lardons. And bits of foie gras tucked underneath just the littlest bit of lettuce. A satisfying, stabilizing beginning to what I hope will be a happy new year for everyone.

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