The Heart Of The Matter

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First, let me apologize to the excellent Barcelona restaurant called, remarkably, El Glop.  They were kind enough to give us a plate to bring home, as well as a delicious dinner, and if you’re ever in Barcelona you really ought to have a meal there.  What you are about to read has nothing to do with them, it’s just an unfortunate linguistic coincidence that I couldn’t resist exploiting. 

In a spate of guilt, inspired by so many comments of the “oh poor baby, too much foie gras and truffles” variety, I decided to change my ways, at least for a day.  While sprawling in a local bistrot yesterday for lunch between French classes, I opted for the most dangerous and least luxurious things on the menu: pied de cochon and tête de veau.  I swear, I did it for you, only for you.

The pied de cochon was as a pig’s foot should be, gelatinous, slippery, savory, and full of bones and toenails.  Honestly, I did that for myself too, since I love the stuff, as you can see here.  The tête de veau, however, was another story.  I’ve only once before eaten calf’s head, and at that time I vowed to all the goddesses never to repeat the experience.  It’s not like there’s a whole head on the plate, staring at you reproachfully, but still, you know how heads are.  My first version was served with the tongue, but mercifully, yesterday’s wasn’t.  The first was gooey, possibly even slimy, horrid except for the salsa verde, which I bravely glopped all over the misery on the plate.  Yesterday’s was meaty, with the scary parts removed, napped with a mild and non-threatening brown sauce, a true comfort food.  Utterly delicious, even I have to admit.

Then today I began preparing to have guests for dinner tomorrow, a dinner featuring pintade, or guinea hen, which is now my favorite fowl.  I asked the butcher to remove the breasts and legs, but to leave the carcasses intact for my soup-making.  Since I need the liver, heart, and gizzards for a stuffing for the dish, I opened each of the three packages she’d given me.  One package of legs, one of breasts, and one of carcasses.  Where were the giblets?  Oh yeah, right, inside the birds where they belong, still firmly attached.  After I’d ripped the heart and liver from their moorings I stopped to take a deep breath.  I’m glad I did, because once revealed the gizzards were as you see them above.  Grassy.  These pintades were eating grass just before their demise, which was evidently not too long ago since it’s all still quite a bright green.

That’s a good thing, I know.  A recently killed bird, still showing proof that it had a life of its own, and that life involved grass.  And where there’s grass there’s fresh air and blue skies and maybe even a bug or two to be had.  It’s a bird’s life.  The fact that they have beautiful blue faces shouldn’t bother me either, but it does, I have to admit.  The fact they they died for me is right up there on the list of things that I have to live with.

So now the legs of two beautiful birds are slowly turning to confit under a sea of goose fat, the carcasses are simmering in the stockpot, and the breasts are reposing in the fridge until tomorrow.  And those giblets?  They’re in the fridge too, waiting for my heart to feel up to cutting away the memories of their grassy past and take a sharp knife to their vitality.

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