Friday, February 18, 2011

Hello there Pig Face

The first time I saw a pig head behind the French marketplace counter, I couldn’t help thinking how much more difficult it was going to be to eat meat that was staring back at me (I said difficult- not impossible.  I am an incorrigible carnivore.)

In addition to pigs, you can also find whole skinned rabbits (who look unnaturally like cats without their fur *shivers*)  Chickens with their heads and feet still in-tact but minus the feathers.    Cow tongues (and yes, they do still look like cow tongues even non-attached to the cow), or other interesting animal organs like hearts, livers, intestines and even eyeballs and testicles (I kid you not).

The meat might be behind the window, but it’s uncovered.  Chickens are hanging from pegs by their necks along with the dried sausages.  Fish are thrown on top of ice and left out on the open counter (no window) for the duration of the market with more ice added to keep ‘em cold.  Fruit and vegetables aren’t in plastic but are simply piled into bins. Often times the vender will have a few cut open so you can taste the produce yourself before you buy.  They’re sold by season so you can’t find winter vegetables in spring or summer, etc…but most are grown and transported within France so they’re fresh and -let’s face it- delicious.

The meat counter might be shocking to some.  But you also have to realize that the meat and chickens are mostly free range raised- no chemicals, hormones, or pesticides.  They’re killed fresh and then sold fresh and often times EATEN fresh, and even raw.

I often kid that my mother-in-law likes her beef still mooing.  And the cheese! Her cheese is so bacteria filled it could grow legs and walk across her plate. 

However, I’m one of those people that will try anything once.  Since living in France, I have tasted raw meat. (In a ‘tartar’ or a ‘Carpaccio’ it’s actually quite good)  And I have to say my preferences have gone from ‘well done’ to what Americans would consider ‘bloody’.
I’ve also had rabbit (which was hard for me since I actually owned rabbits as pets growing up. Ugh)  Foie gras, (duck liver),  Cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs- that DO NOT taste like chicken and there’s not enough meat to constitute the trouble of eating them imo),  Escargots (snails) Sanglier (wild boar) and andouilette (pig intestine)
I recommend all of the above with the exception of the andouillette.

I’m sorry but if it looks like poop and smells like poop, for me, there’s no way around it.

 It’s poop. 

There’s no fooling my senses, no matter how much Dijon mustard the French throw on top.
Have a great weekend everybody!  And ‘thank you!’ to all my new followers and those that commented on this week’s posts!  Sorry I haven’t been around much - kids and hubby are on vacation so I’m on a short leash until Tuesday!

*CQG*

25 comments:

Kate said...

I find this blog fascinating. Not because of what you have to say about France but because of what you think is odd about France which says so much more about Americans!! ;-)

The meat counter you describe sounds exactly like my local butcher - although you could add the odd brace of pheasants at the right time of year, and I think faggots and tripe are all peculiar to us Brits. But I could be wrong there and happy to be corrected.

Persnally I have always found French meat to be extremely good - I love steak tartare but I'm afraid snails are like chewing garlic flavoured rubber bands.

Do you really not eat offal at all in America?

Candyland said...

Ugghhh...I could never get used to that. My stomach is way too sensitive.

Laura Pauling said...

I don't know if I could handle all the raw meat- all at once. I guess it all depends on what you're used to!

Emily White said...

I love open markets! And yes, we do have them in my neck of the U.S. I've never actually had raw beef, but I do prefer my steak done very rare. I don't understand why you'd even bother ordering a piece of meat well done. You might as well just eat a brick.

And fresh is ALWAYS best. I couldn't agree with you more!

Great post! :)

Angela Felsted said...

You're an adventurous girl. Trying all those foods. Much more adventurous than I am. And just for the record, pig intestines sound awful.

Teresa Stenson said...

Hi Creepy (I know that's not your actual name but I really wanted to write that)

I just want to tell you I am with you on the double spacing. It IS cleaner! I've started tweeting recently and I can't get out the habit of double spacing there too where every character is precious.

Also I've nominated you for a blogger award - I know you'll have loads but I still wanted to point any traffic I could your way, such a good blog.

www.teresa-stenson.blogspot.com

Happy meat-eatin'.

:)

Erin Kane Spock said...

I love carpaccio. I have never had boar or pig intestine. I have had the others and hagis.
I have a friend who loves chitlins (which is a Southern intestine dish) and my cousin recently fell in love with a Taiwanese pig blood/rice/lollipop. I don't think I'll ever try either of these.

Tom M Franklin said...

how difficult--in practical terms--would it be to be a vegetarian in france? i hear about the carnivorous side of french food frequently, but not a lot about alternatives?

just curious...


-- Tom

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

I love exotic, weird foods. My favorite? Seared tongue :)

Angelina Rain said...

My family is from Europe so unfortunately I know what you’re talking about. The worst thing is the liver. Have you ever smelled a cooking liver? It’s the worst smell on the face of the earth. Just thinking about it makes me want to throw up! I’ve smelled death and decay and that doesn’t smell as bad as liver!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yuck!!!!

I can't eat rabbit and lamb because they just too darn cute when they're alive. It's just not happening. If pigs, cows, and chickens were cute, I wouldn't eat them either.

Hmmm. Does that make me superficial?

Melissa Gill said...

I've seen pictures of those open air markets with the rabbits, pigs heads, etc. on TV/movies. It would take some getting used to.

I agree fresh, in-season food grown organically, cage free, etc tastes amazing. I'm hooked, and can't go back to the processed stuff. I go to open air markets whenever I can.

When I lived in New Orleans I got to try most of the dishes you mentioned. Except the andouillette which sounds like what we call chitterlings (or chitlins). This is a famous Southern dish which is especially popular in soul food restaurants. I can't say why I never tried chitlins, I just don't ever remember having the opportunity.

So anyway, if the andouillette is the same as hog intestines that have been stripped, cleaned, boiled, and then fried, it's the same thing. They supposedly smell horrible, but I don't recall ever smelling them either.

But they are quite popular in some parts of the US, especially around the holidays.

Christopher said...

I'm generally pretty adventurous. I always make sure I just try everything before I ask anyone what it is.

Old Kitty said...

Oh beautiful Katie Mills. I'm feeling quite faint and am in need of some lavender vapours, stat! LOL!! That's what I get for being a vegetarian!!! LOL!! Awwww but I do like the SMELL - just the smell and nothing more!! - of sizzling bacon...

Take care
x

Melissa said...

I could not deal with raw meat!

Anne Gallagher said...

Being a chef in a former life, I always had to try crazy food. I've eaten raw meat, snake, elk, buffalo. I will not eat tongue, ever. Or andouillette. Or brains for that matter either.

I'll bet 1000 euro's that the meat over there tastes better than anything we have over here.

India Drummond said...

I have a problem with animal face, I have to say. I went years without eating red meat, but bacon lured me back in. heh

Clara said...

A pig's head? Ewww! BUT its really important to stay open to new experiences, specially expatriates like ourselves. So way to go, Kd! I wish I could try frog legs, I always wondered how they tasted like...hum...

Brad Jaeger said...

To be a little more specific, fois gras isn't just any duck liver; it's duck liver that's been specially conditioned and swelled to many times its normal size and tenderness due to repeated force feedings.

As cruel as it is it's still delicious >.<

Colene Murphy said...

BLECH!! The only part of any of that that appeals to my animal loving heart is the fresh free rangeness. I LOVE to eat meat. But I LOVE to eat meat that I don't have to think about it being something cute and alive at one point. Just call me the denial princess.

W.B. said...

You're definitely NOT a 'creepy' query girl at all. :)

I can't stand any type of meat, except for hamburger patties. :P I don't know why, but I just have a hard time chewing it.

Tamara Narayan said...

I tried squid once and the texture was like rubber--not recommended. For the rest, I'll stick to packaged chicken breasts and tilapia fillets. I prefer to read my adventure, not eat it. But I do admire audacious dining in others.

Wendy Altschuler said...

Very interesting. I was raised in Montana where there's a considerable "hunter's culture". I've been a vegetarian for the last 11 years mostly for the ick factor that I find in meat. I'm not sure how I could tollerate the French culture of meat. Maybe I would be desensitized a bit and eventually not get so grossed out.

Aleeza said...

bleh...i do eat meat, even though whenever i pass by butcher shop's i can't believe i do. id never be able to eat raw meat, or tongues or brains or lungs or any of that. it grosses me out too much.
im kinda like colene. i cant eat it while imagining it was a live thing once. hehe. :D

Nicole L Rivera said...

Yeah, I was a vegetarian for 4 years. I'm reconsidering going back after this post. Lol. I only eat chicken and turkey as it is and I never cook it myself. My poor husband (the carnivore), there is no meat in our fridge unless he brings home leftovers, which his mom sends him every week. Sorry. I see pork, I see Babe. In France I'd have a hard time grocery shopping. Lol.

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