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Inside French-Style Sunday Lunch

By Michael Cosgrove     Mar 29, 2009 in Food
You must all be tired after a hard week’s writing and working, so let me do the cooking. All you have to do is slip off your shoes, kick back, and let me pour you a glass of Bordeaux 1996. Make yourselves at home. Music? Steely Dan? Fine.
Ok. Everybody served? So let’s get down to business.
You know of course that French Gastronomy has a worldwide reputation, so I thought I’d propose a few traditional dishes that the French eat themselves, here in France, that you may not be familiar with. You may be sure that millions of them are eating one or another of them as you read this.You are going to eat like Kings and Queens!
Ok, here’s the Entrée (“Starters” for the uncouth and uncultured amongst you.)
Escargots à l’ail et Persil (Snails with Garlic, Butter and Parsley)
I have a couple of dozen large and living snails in the kitchen. They haven’t eaten in a week because I’ve starved them (too purify their systems). To prepare them I’ll cover them in salt to make them foam at the mouth for ten minutes, then I’ll put them, still alive, into boiling water for a couple of minutes to cook them. Don’t worry, they don’t scream or anything like that. Well, they squeal a little, but that’s not screaming. Anyway, then I’ll fry them in olive oil and serve them covered in garlic and parsley. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
Oh, you don’t like snails? Ok, no problem. Let me see..oh yes, how about;
Cuisses de Grenouilles à la Tomate et aux Ognions (Frogs Legs, Onions and Tomatoes)
They are already dead so there’s nothing to worry about. All I have to do is take them out of the freezer. Simple as pie. I can fry my frogs legs in oil if you like, and serve them with onions and tomatoes and a glass of white wine. Doesn’t take long. Yum yum!
Sorry, did you say your diet forbids them?
Um, ok, so let’s go straight to the Plat de Résistance then (Main Dish to the culturally barren.) You’re going to LOVE this!
Tête de Veau (Calf’s Head)
Boil your calf’s head in salted water with garlic, vinegar, carrots and onions. For two hours. Smells delicious! Serve with boiled potatoes and a mustard, egg yolk and vinegar sauce.
Ah? Carrots bring you out in a rash? Don’t worry, I have yet another idea.
Gras Double (Cow’s Stomach Lining)
Easy Peasy! All I have to do is cut it into slices and fry it with salt and pepper and olive oil. Goes well with broccoli and grilled peppers. Sublime.
What did you just say? No? Hey, c’mon! If you’re not hungry, just say so! Ok ok. So ruminant guts are not your thing. I have the answer. Let’s just keep things simple, and nibble. No, no, of course I don’t feel slighted. Much.
Graillons (Pig Fat Crusties)
These are small chunks of pig fat, from just below the skin, dipped in batter and deep-fried. They are served cold with peanuts and Pastis. No, there aren’t any hairs on them. Normally.
I see, so you would like something to go with them, just in case you don’t like them. Sure. I agree. It’s always so nice to have a choice. Here’s something well-known and anodyne to snack on with your wine if you have a small and delicate appetite. I know that some people have to be careful about fresh food. This comes already prepared, in a can, so you have no excuse for not liking it.
Foie Gras (Duck or Goose liver Paté)
This is of Egyptian origin, but the French have adopted and adapted it to suit their tastes. You force-feed the animal with maize, using a tube that you push down it’s throat, for a year, until its liver is more than twice its normal size, then you kill it and turn its liver into a paté. Goes great with warm toast and a glass of Sauternes. Many countries have banned its production and importation, but let’s not get semantic here. Some people are too squeamish by half.
I do beg your pardon? Nobody’s hungry any more? Can’t I tempt you with anything? What’s the problem? What’s wrong?
Fine. That’s that. I give up. I know when I’m beat. I just wanted to make an effort for you and teach you new culinary things and present you some delicious traditional French recipes and be cool and nice to you and cook you to eat, but it seems evident that eating real food isn’t your thing and that you don’t appreciate good healthy cooking when you read it. I’ve made all this effort for nothing.
What did you say?
“Hell Michael, why don’t you just sit down and take it easy. Let’s make a phone call and get some pizza delivered and have a couple more drinks while we’re waiting.”
(Sigh.) Ok, if that's what you want. I'll take a Four Seasons plus anchovies. No, I do not want coke with it thank you very much.
Anyone need a top up?
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