We love French food, we love the rugged look of the peppers and courgettes, we love the abundance of squash at this time of year and the lack of less seasonal fruit and veg. It makes cooking more interesting and you’re keen to make the most of the new products that appear with the change in season.
Last week we went to the market at Villefranche de Rouergue, it’s one of the larger ones that fill countless streets and this time we found a wonderful cooked meat stall. We tried a range of products – dried duck, cured sausage, pâté and duly stocked our bags with new and delicious tastes. We also spotted a lovely piece of black pudding and decided to do one of our lighter meals that night – warm black pudding, bacon and poached egg salad – with a mustard and crème fraiche sauce it really is divine. Providing the black pudding is sliced to just the right thickness so that when you fry it the fat can melt away a little. I’m not too keen on those lumps of fat which was why I was so looking forward to this boudin noir aux viandes (apologies to the stall if I’ve failed to spell that correctly).
Black pudding with meat – I assumed this meant more meat and less fat. Sometimes you should ask rather than assume.
Rob prepared and fried the black pudding whilst I attended to the sauce. He fries it to perfection and he’s also brilliant at the poached eggs. It was during the cooking, though, that he realised this black pudding was just a little bit different. And perhaps my translation was not as accurate as it could be. Or maybe my translation was correct but the butcher’s description failed to hit the mark.
The added meat was not exactly meat, or it was meat in the loosest possible terms.
I’ve eaten Andouillettes in Arras – at the Festival, I like to try new things. Even if I don’t know what they are when I read the menu. And I eat them if I’ve ordered them, no matter how difficult – like whelks – which I ate in a lovely restaurant on the banks of the Seine. Andouillettes are sausages without the sausage meat; only they’re not for vegetarians because what they lack in meat they make up for in tripe. Andouillettes are tripe sausage. And they are served flaming on a plate and they’re alright – a bit earthy, salty and very, very chewy. As Rick Stein once said, whilst eating chicken’s foot, one is enough.
And now I’ve eaten black pudding with added tripe. And it was not so easy to eat; lightly frying did nothing to tenderise the tripe, it was a little like hard-boiled rubber, I expect you could make bike tyres from it. This black pudding would have benefited from an hour’s boiling, then frying, then roasting and maybe also flaming in alcohol.
One was enough.