These eggs, for example, almost chocolate in color, are from a Poule de Marans, raised by our friends Alice and Christian, who love to raise and show exotic birds of all sorts. The eggs, however lovely, taste exactly like good eggs should, without a hint of the exotic.
The eggplant, l’aubergine rayée, or striped eggplant, idem, which is how the French often say “it’s the same thing.” Unbearably lovely in the bowl, just ordinarily delicious on the plate.
Beautiful food does, however, inspire me to cook beautifully. Before we left to return to France a couple of people asked me what I was looking forward to eating once we got here. My first thought was veal, the second was tripe. But what have we really been eating? Duck, three times duck in one week, which is some kind of record for us. The best of them all was a riff on Paula Wolfert’s duck breast with a sauce of cèpes (which are called porcini in English, even though that’s Italian) and a cèpe and white mushroom flan. It wasn’t in the least beautiful, unless a sort of symphony of browns appeals to you, but the combination of duck and cèpes results in a hauntingly wild and foresty thing that’s pretty irresistible.
And then tonight we had an abbreviated choucroute, which might be the homeliest dish in France. But the flavors of saucisse de Morteau and saucisse de Montbéliard, two requisite ingredients around here, are so compelling that you easily forgive them their unprepossessing appearance.
But tomorrow is Wednesday, which means that there will be impeccably fresh fish in the market, and I’m thinking of something prettier and lighter. Unless, of course, I get seduced by some tripe, which I find to be inexplicably beautiful, in its own way.