Saturday, July 12, 2008

I We Don't Do Andouille

The café directly below my apartment in Paris serves espresso, coffee, crêpes, salads, galettes (buckwheat crêpes), and wines. On my second day here in Paris, I stumbled downstairs, jet lagged as hell, and had a galette with jambon (ham), fromage (cheese) and walnuts. It was good as far as galettes go. Nothing earth-shattering delicious but good. The owner was very pleasant and I fancied that this might be one of my regular spots on the street.

In thinking such, I returned to the café a couple of days following that first visit and tried yet another galette, this time with andouille and fromage. I knew that andouille was sausage and I could almost be certain that back in the States, I've had andouille sausage in some form (very important distinction!) and I do like sausage in general. The galette arrived and when I cut into it, there was the andouille, this spiraled pork product. It looked highly unappetizing and this odor started to permeate my nostrils. I took a bite. Chewy, highly smoky.... disgusting!! I was so revolted by the small bite I had managed to force down. I knew that I could not eat any more of it but there, hidden in the galette, were numerous spirals of andouille. And eating around the andouille proved fuitle, as its pungent odor not only permeated my nostrils but the entire flavor of the galette.

The owner knew I didn't like it but in fear of offending, I deliberated a few minutes, hoping that I might be able to bravely eat more of the andouille or even the crêpe around it. No. I just couldn't. And the absolute disgust I felt provoked me to be a little more French (i.e., assertive) and tell the owner that I honestly did not like it at all. She explained in English that it is a very traditional French sausage. I couldn't help thinking that this "tradition" might fall in line with other forced "traditions" like sitting on a creepy Santa Claus's lap at Christmas as a child. But the sausage was far worse than any department store Santa and smelled infinitely worse than Billy Bob Thornton must have smelled in Bad Santa.

The offending galette was taken away and a very plain and safe crêpe replaced it. Lesson learned. A few days ago when I met up with Chicamericaine, I told her about my disgusting andouille experience. She made a face and quipped, "I don't do andouille." We laughed (and simultaneously cringed) over our shared dislike. The next day she emailed me the Wikipedia page on andouille sausage:

"Traditional andouillette is made from the colon and the stomach of pigs.... The French andouillette is an acquired taste and can be off-putting to diners due to its extremely pungent odor, often compared to the smell of feces. (It is not to be confused with derivative andouille sausage, which is much spicier, but more mild in odor.) Andouillette is sometimes eaten cold but more commonly is grilled and served as a hot dish, which strengthens its odor and taste. While hot andouillette does smell of feces, naturally all such matter is removed from the meat before cooking. The aroma is due to the pig colon (chitterlings) utilised in the sausage, which incorporates some of the same compounds that contribute to the odor of excrement."

So, I suppose that I should be grateful that "naturally all such [feces] is removed from the meat before cooking." But I ate part of a pig's colon and believe me, it was no delicacy for my plain palate! While I appreciate that the French may not be as wasteful, finding use for all of the animal, I just can't comprehend how someone comes to "acquire" a taste for something so vile! But then, I can imagine that a person might stumble upon Taco Bell in the States and think the same thing!

A few days after my andouille experience, I walked past a bistro on my way home and that smell rose up from within. That smell. I will never forget it, try as I might.


carra said...

They (I mean those vile not understanding Lithuanians) have a very similar dish here, where well, you don't want to know about it but it smells of feces too. Yuck. No way would I eat something that smells that way! Go back to the cafe and try something else, however I suggest you never touch the endive salad, they might not smell of feces but they are one of the most disgusting things I tried in my entire life. No other country that I have been to, even have those horrible things in the shop!

Randal Graves said...

You know, it's stories like this that really reinforce my decidedly American palate. Where's a good burger when you need one?

Je voudrais un côlon, s'il vous plaît !

chicamericaine said...

Having been introduced to the joys of andouille by my Louisianan friends, I eagerly chose it on the menu in my early days in France. Even 10+ years later, I can still conjure the disgusting flavor. Dégelasse ! But we could start a girl band with the hit song "We don't do Andouille, do we?"

Richard said...

The only true sausages are Polish (maybe, sometimes German), but no one else really knows how to make a decent sausage. Sorry.

People like all sorts of strange flavours in their food. A common one is butyric acid which gives Parmesan cheese its distinctive timbre. Personally, I think it smells like vomit (to which it also lends its timbre).

La Framéricaine said...

I once spent an hour in my MIL's home wondering where the hell that smell of shit was coming from! I checked my shoes, I suspected my BIL, and, finally, I was introduced to the charcuturie platter and all was revealed!

Bon appetit!

Anonymous said...

I'm actually so happy to hear this. My husband chocked one down at a restaurant recently to be polite even though we were pretty sure he was going to die from eating rotten flesh. It smelled worse than sh*t- more like death.