Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meaty


When I was a vegetarian, I turned my nose up at meat. All kinds of meat. Chicken, porc sausages, bridies, christmas turkey, burgers...even some fish I wouldn't touch with a 40 inch barge pole / fork (the fish that still had their faces and eyeballs and scales). It started out as a way to lose weight, if I remember correctly, and continued for eight years before I finally put another morsel of meat into my mouth.

I gave up my vegetarian title because of France. Because I knew I'd be coming to live in France eventually and that I couldn't continue eating Coquilles Saint Jaques (or scallops) every time I ate at FP's parent's house. At the time, Coquilles Saint Jaques was just about the only French dish I would eat, you see, and by the end of a seven day stay with his family, I would be seeing the small round scallops in my nightmares.

And so there it was. One day I decided to eat a hamburger and oh.my.God was it delicious! Little by little I rediscovered meat, with the help of FP and his family, and although I still really can't stomach red meat, I happen to love chicken and turkey. And sausages. I even occasionally take pepperoni on my pizza - when I'm feeling adventurous - but I couldn't tell you what kind of meat that is, or if it is even a meat at all.

Because living in France as a vegetarian in 2006 was so difficult - restaurants don't seem to cater for veggies whatsoever - I am rather pleased with myself for having given up taking the moral highground when it comes to meat / animals. Life is so much easier now, and I am less of a freak in France than before. The French don't seem to understand the concept of vegetarianism. Whenever I mentioned that I didn't eat meat, I would always be met with a wide eyed stare, which lasted approximately 30 seconds, before they scratched their head in confusion and asked me 'mais pourquoi?!'

Last weekend I went all out. I was feeling adventurous, daring even. FP's mother served us canard (or duck) and I, for the very first time in my life, nibbled on a piece of the foreign meat. I finished my entire platefull and would have asked for second helpings had it not been for the three other courses to follow. Yes, my friends, I ate daffy the duck, and he was delish.

There is one last piece of meat that I had heard all about - everyone has tasted it and everyone raves about it. It would have been a meat that I would have sworn on my life that I would never try, along with horsemeat, cat, dog, brains and a whole lot more, but yet not long ago, I was pretty sure I would never dare eat a duck. And today the opportunity arose. The opportunity to eat foie gras.

It was our office's christmas lunch at a posh hotel school (the best place to eat for not a lot of money, top tip!) and the menu was foie gras, canard and chocolate fondant. When my entrée of foie gras arrived in front of me, I poked the brown, strange shaped thing with my fork before sniffing it surreptisiously and spearing a small wobbly piece into my mouth.

Foie gras is the most revolting, vile thing I have ever tasted in my life, except for vomit. It's just a shame that these are the only two flavours I have been tasting all evening as I run to the bathroom to see every ingredient in my lunch for a second time.

There is such a thing as being too adventurous after all.

20 comments:

KatduGers said...

I live in the Gers - the Foie Gras region of France and to be honest I would rather eat Pedigree Chum!!

Micah D.L. said...

foie gras is FOUL. blech.

i was a vegetarian for about 7 years and the first time i ate meat again after having NOT eaten it for that long, i was on a road trip with some friends and we stopped at mcdonald's...i would up eating 2 Big Mac's, 1 large fries, 3 apple pies and a super sized diet coke.

it was glorious.

Andromeda said...

Hello there! I have been reading for a while, and decided to delurk for this post seeing as I am a total meat lover, but hate hate hate foie gras so don't worry you're not alone!! Have you tried rabbit? It can be very very yummy when prepared properly (=not by me).

And good luck on the job hunt!! Perhaps you could be a food critic . . .

Lesley said...

If you're not eating your foie gras, can I have it?

Belle Ecrivaine said...

I hate fois gras (much to my grandmother's chagrin), but I love the Canadianized version of pâté. Delicious!

T.D. Newton said...

ZOMG I LOVE FOIE GRAS. And patté (sp?) is freaking fantastic. And I love duck. Basically, I love meat.

Have you tried Buffalo yet? It's a bit expensive (probably way expensive in France) but sooo amazing. Elk isn't bad, either. Ostrich is also good. I used to live near a health food store and they had all kinds of "exotic" meat.

By the way, I would try horse/cat/dog/orange or whatever other kind of meat there is, I don't care if it had a face or a nickname. I just want to know what it tastes like, and I wouldn't want to wait until a stuck-lost-in-the-woods scenario before I brave them. I might be weird, but I prefer to think of myself as adventurous.

P.S. Pepperoni (and salami, and churizo, et al) are just different types of sausage. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but they're usually made from pork.

Princesse Ecossaise said...

KatduGers I'm not sure about the Pedigree Chum, but I do get your point! In fact the two are very similar, I wonder if Pedigree Chum is simply the rejected foie gras...?

Micah Haha you go girl! what a woman! Respect!

Hi Andromeda, thanks for commenting! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who hates this foie gras stuff, and as for rabbit, well it's on that don't-even-go-there list along with horse etc. However, so was duck and foie gras so you never know, I may just try it one day!

Lesley Yes, of course, you're welcome to it!

Belle Ecrivaine I do actually like paté myself, the smooth ones without the chewy bits in it. SOmeone said cold foie gras is just like paté but even better, but unfortunately I tasted the foie gras poilé.

TD What about human meat? Would you try that if it was legal? If so...MICAH WATCH OUT!! :-p

What about placenta? I hear people are eating their own placenta these days right after they have given birth!

I've never tried buffalo, I'm not even sure they sell it here in France! No, wait, there's a restaurant called Buffalo grill so maybe they do. Perhaps I will convince FP to give it a try and I will take the tiniest taste, just to see. I couldn't eat elk, isn't that a deer?

SO pepperoni is a type of meat! I was right not to touch it while practising vegetarianism then!

T.D. Newton said...

Actually, yes, I would try human meat, not that I have a burning desire to do so (I did say try). Told you I'm weird.

I think I might have heard of the placenta thing... but I wouldn't really consider that "meat" and wouldn't see a purpose in eating it. Duck is a little different.

An elk is like a REALLY BIG deer. Deer < Elk < Moose < Buffalo (size wise). And deer meat is freaking good, too, I might add. The cuteness of an animal does not affect its taste.

Frankly, if a pizza doesn't have pepperoni, it takes a bit of convincing to get me to eat it. I love it that much.

(my word verif is "rucklip"... sounds like some kind of slur)

Chouitie said...

have to say I quite like foie gras (but not the way it's produced - I try to forget that part when it appears on my plate!). Perhaps the stuff you had was off or something..on the other hand if you don't like it, it'll save you a few much needed pennies this Christmas...

sugar007 said...

Oh give me your foie gras. I have been overdosing on the stuff. I have been eating it for the past week like no mans business and I am taking it home for christmas...Hmmmm foie gras. It looks rancid coated in all that congealed fat but gosh its good, give it another try maybe it was just too much meat excitement for your palate to handle...

Leah said...

I was a veggie for a while and then didn't eat beef or pork for a long while, but since coming to France this last time in Sept 2006, I'm back on the pig and a lot more willing to try more "interesting" meats. I agree on no horse, cat, dog or any sort of zoo animal. I've also tried duck, but it was in 2002 and I was in my full blown chicken-turkey phase and so I think I was just freaked out because I ate it by accident when it was spread on some toasts and I thought it was tuna, so I'll have to try it again when the opportunity presents itself. But, foie gras, beurk! I tried it because I'm willing to give everything a chance, but it was nastyyyyy! The same with andouillette. Double beurk.

It's true that they're way less accepting here of veggies. Being someone who doesn't eat beef or seafood(except for tuna from a can which I love!) and usually prefers chicken/turkey to pork, people often look at me like I have about 7 heads and ask "but why?" And my French friends mostly ignore the fact that I don't eat beef/pork. Take tonight when they called me to tell me the menu they decided on for New Year's(I couldn't be there because I'm sick) and they had chosen a cake with lardons, jambon with boursin, scallops and a beef dish. Great. So, I asked if they could please throw some chicken or turkey in there and basically they were like we'll thrown in a couple slices of poulet with boursin with the jambon that you can eat and then instead of beef, you can have some turkey in the oven. I told them I can deal with the scallops, jambon and lardons, but won't eat the beef. The truth of the matter is that yes, I can eat these things, but I don't LIKE them.

I feel like they could change the menu instead of them all having one thing and then me just having some bootleg spinoff of the real meal. But, they don't seem to make an effort and joke that "ah oui, c vrai, t chiante av la bouffe!" and laugh, but I know they think I'm a bit ridicule and picky. It's not picky when you're willing to try things! I try everything before I say I don't like it and I just do NOT like beef or seafood. Why force myself to eat it? Plus, one of the girls in the group doesn't like a gazillion different vegetables and fruits and I'm 99.9% sure that they would change the menu if there was something on there she didn't like. Why is meat any different? Grr.

Ok, rant over, I just had a lot to say I guess!

L'oiseau de perles said...

oh my... I'm afraid now! I'll be in Paris in less than a month and a half and I'm a vegetarian... I actually gave up veganism before I went to Paris earlier this year, but I just can't imagine going back to the meats. I guess I'm lucky that I'm not one who craves variety in food(I can literally live off one food for months on end)?

And ew to foie gras.... just ew.

Loth said...

Well, to be fair to you, there are a fair number of life-long carnivores who might not be able to handle foie gras! What about venison? Having scoffed Daffy, how about Bambi??

Bandini said...

Aren't burgers made out of beef ?
So you can stomach red meat after all , you just don't like the bloody kind ;-)

Give me "blanquette de veau" anyday for the rest of my life and I'll be an happy frenchie !

as for foie gras , well , the high quality variety is like nothing else but it's an ingredient that does not suffer mediocrity at all (like Champagne really).

The paté version is not what I think of when I picture foie gras , first you're never sure what kind you will be served be it from Gers or Bulgaria so I'm sticking to the real thing : entire liver in a pan with apples from local producers.

Princesse Ecossaise said...

TD In the name of the wee green man! You would try human meat? You are the ONLY person I have ever come across who admits they would try it. I think a lot more of us would actually do it if we were in the old stranded-on-a-deserted-island-with-nothing-to-eat situation, it's just you never know until you're there. Oh and I'll have you know that the cuteness of an animal DOES affect it's taste! Psychologically speaking, at least!

Chouitie I had to put the thought of forcefed birds to the back of my mind too, when I tried the foie gras. I never think of the animal I'm eating while eating it, otherwise I'd go right back to being a veggie!

Sugar I shall be giving the cold stuff a try tomorrow chez les beau parents. I believe it has a completely different look when it's cold to when it's poilé, so I'm willing to give it a go! As for the foie gras poilé? I'm afraid it's a big fat no way, never again!

Oh my poor Leah, I sympathise with you on this one! Despite FP's mother knowing full well that I don't like big bloody steaks, that's exactly what she feeds me when we come for dinner. It sucks, but at least with you friends you are able to say 'look guys, I don't freakin' like beef ok?!' I can't really say that to my belle mére, otherwise I may get biffed in the face...

I think it has a lot to do with upbringing. Back home we have food for kids; turkey dinosaurs, chicken nuggets etc, but big steaks aren't one of them. Here in France the kids eat the same as the parents so maybe that's why the majority of the French population can't understand / don't even believe it when we say we aren't fond of red meat.

L'oiseau hey don't worry, I'm sure in the centre of Paris they are much more accepting to veggies because it's a lot more internationl / cosmopolitan there. Think of all the Americans and other expats who live there and all of those foreigners who have started their own business - restaus and cafés. I'm pretty sure it will be easier to find more veggie friendly eating out places there than where I am on the peripherique. P.S.I agree with the ew.

Loth Is venison Bambi? No waaaaay could I eat Bambi! Daffy was okay because he had this annoying quacky voice, but Bambi had those eyes that melt your heart and also he had trouble walking on those stilt-like legs.

Bandini Ah oui, tu as raison, burgers are beef! J'aime bien le bœuf quand c'est en burger mais jamais avec du sang!!! Plutôt comme ils le font chez McDo'...plastique!

T.D. Newton said...

Hogwash. Cuteness is totally independent of taste because both are subjective. You might think a deer is cute but the word I would use is "majestic" (and not just because I'm a dude and prefer not to openly refer to things as "cute") and it is GOOD MEAT. Pigs and Cows are pretty ugly, comparatively speaking, and I don't really need to point out their popularity.

And yes, I totally agree, most people are too squeamish to admit they'd try human meat. Some people can't even watch the movie Alive because of that, but I mostly laugh at them. It's like I said, I don't want to try it in a creepy I'd-go-out-of-my-way-to kind of way, but if the opportunity presented itself I probably wouldn't give it a second thought. Good thing it never will, right?

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Okay TD, you're scaring me now.









Just kidding!

I guess since you could eat a human, the cuteness or physical attractiveness - that's a better way of putting it - of the animal before it was killed probably doesn't affect you personally. But for me and probably most other girls and girly men (kidding, non-girly men may feel this way too), if you allow yourself to think about the animal you are eating and if it's say...a cute fluffy rabbit, it is likely to negatively affect the pleasure of the food, thus making it difficult to enjoy the taste. Therefore
the attractiveness of the animal does, to some extent - and purely physcologically you understand - affect the taste of the meat.

Erm...Just in my opinion...you know...erm, I may not be right, but like...I just wanted to say that.

T.D. Newton said...

You mean you're thinking of it as an animal rather than as meat. I totally understand your point, except there's a pretty thick line in between the two (death). Just because I see an animal doesn't mean I want to kill and eat it, but it's kind of hard to think of a steak as having a personality.

Bandini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Princesse Ecossaise said...

"but it's kind of hard to think of a steak as having a personality."

You are totally correct. Which is why I can eat chicken and turkey regularly.

And yesterday I tried ... OSTRICH!

The thought is gross but it didn't taste any different from any other paté.

Oh and I tried the cold paté style foie gras and I'm afraid though it wasn't as boke inducing as my first encounter, it really did nothing for me.