Transcript for Episode 193: A Cornucopia of Bizarre French Foods

Categories: French Customs & Lifestyle, French Food & Wine

Discussed in this Episode

  • Seafood platter in France
  • Foie gras
  • Steak tartare
  • French people and horse meat
  • Steak tartare au couteau
  • Moules marinières
  • Gésiers
  • Coq au vin
  • Escargots de Bourgogne
  • Rillettes
  • Pot-au-feu
  • Coeurs de canard
  • Steak à cheval vs. Steak de cheval
  • Croque Madame
  • Croque Monsieur
  • Frittons
  • Pieds de porc
  • Tripes à la mode de Caen
  • Andouillettes and andouilles
  • Langue de boeuf
  • Tête de veau ravigotte and tête de veau vinaigrette
  • Ris de veau
  • Boudin noir and boudin blanc
  • Lapin
  • Cuisses de grenouilles
  • Cervelle de veau en persillade
  • Rognons
  • Rognons blancs
  • Cheval
  • Salade de museau
  • Fromage de tête
  • Perdrix
  • Pintade
  • Pigeon
  • Cailles
  • Cerfeuil
  • Strange stinky French cheeses
  • Époisses
  • Maroilles
  • Langres
  • Camembert
  • Brie
  • Pont l’Évèque
  • Munster
  • Morbier
  • Roquefort
  • Aligot and Tartiflette
  • Tripou
  • Normal French foods with strange names
  • How to say the city name "Caen"

Annie: [00:00:00] This is Join Is in France episode 193. Bonjour, I’m Annie. And Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, its many quirks, its history, its language, and of course, destinations in France you want to learn about; because hopefully you will be visiting soon!


Annie: [00:00:21] Today we take a deep dive on quirky French foods. Dare I say it? Even scary French food. On today’s episode Elyse and I present to you a cornucopia of bizarre French food. Even if you never plan on trying any of them, you need to know about them because they’ll pop up on menus here and there. And I’ve known visitors who had big surprises when their food arrived!


Annie: [00:01:22] And I would love to hear about those, in the comments below this show post. You’ll find it at If it’s happened to you, I want to know about it!


Annie: [00:01:36] If you’re interested about learning about food in France. You should also check out Episode 161: 50 must know French phrases for hungry visitors. Like I said earlier, the show notes and photos for this episode are on


Annie: [00:01:56] And folks who are subscribed to the email list which I call the Extras. Will get the recap of this episode in a few days. Join us in France is brought to you by Patreon supporters and Addicted to France. The small group tour company for people who want to enjoy France to the fullest with zero stress. Check out our upcoming tours in May 2018 on


Annie: [00:02:26] Hello Elyse!


Elyse: [00:02:27] Hello. How are you?


Elyse: [00:02:30] Oh I’m pretty good.


Annie: [00:02:31] Excellent! We’re going to talk about weird French foods.


Elyse: [00:02:35] Weird French food.


Annie: [00:02:36] Yes.


Elyse: [00:02:38] W F F


Annie: [00:02:41] I’m calling it a cornucopia of bizarre French foods, because I like the word cornucopia.


Elyse: [00:02:48] I see that you do.


Annie: [00:02:51] OK I have to warn you everybody this episode might gross you out a little bit. Because some of the descriptions, especially going towards the later part of the episode, might be a little bit disturbing to you. Might turn your stomach.


Elyse: [00:03:06] If you are…


Annie: [00:03:08] Especially if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan. Because a lot of these bizarre French foods have to do with animal parts. What we don’t normally talk about. You know, but I can’t tell you about… I can’t warn you about them if I don’t tell you what it is, right? I mean it wouldn’t make any sense.


Elyse: [00:03:27] Or, rather than even warning people, let them know if they are truly truly adventurous.


Annie: [00:03:33] Exactly, exactly! You know, most French people, they don’t really think that it’s a problem to eat these things. Because if you’re going to eat meat, anyway you might as well eat the whole animal.


Elyse: [00:03:46] Yes.


Annie: [00:03:47] And historically that’s what people did.


Elyse: [00:03:49] It’s more ecological.


Annie: [00:03:50] That is true! I know my father for instance he was raised in a rural part. You know it was very rural. They had animals and they killed their own animals and ate their own animals. And if they wanted a chicken they went out and grabbed a chicken, and killed the chicken and plucked the chicken. And they didn’t do this every night, you know.


Annie: [00:04:13] This was for Sunday meal, or something. And it was a special occasion.


Elyse: [00:04:18] And it is true that traditionally, until I say, I guess recent times. People used every part of the animal because it really made sense to not waste things, really.


Annie: [00:04:31] Yes. And something that’s a little bit counter intuitive also, is that historically during a siege, you would think that they wouldn’t eat animals they wouldn’t have any meat left. But it was actually the opposite that was happening.


Elyse: [00:04:48] Right.


Annie: [00:04:48] During a siege, they went and ate all the animals that they could.


Elyse: [00:04:53] That they could find, even the ones that normally we do not eat.


Annie: [00:04:56] Right, so. During the Paris siege, they ate the elephants that were at the Paris zoo. That was in 1870, late 1870, wasn’t that long ago.


Elyse: [00:05:10] Right. Well even as, if I remember correctly, that happened in Warsaw in Poland in World War II. When they were being starved and they did go and take animals out of the zoo.


Annie: [00:05:23] Right. Yeah. And they ate their cats, they ate their dogs, they ate rats, they ate anything that flew over the house. You know so, yes. But this is different.


Elyse: [00:05:34] But this is different. Right. We’re just talking about basic traditional things from different parts of France.


Annie: [00:05:40] Right. In most rich countries, the reason why we mostly eat chicken breasts, is because the rest of the chicken is sold off to… You know to like to make dog food, or to make…


Elyse: [00:05:55] Chicken breast? Well chicken legs too we eat.


Annie: [00:05:59] We do. We do. But maybe chicken was a bad example. There’s parts of the animals that we don’t like in America you don’t eat pigs feet. Well maybe you do eat pigs’s feet.


Elyse: [00:06:07] I think that yeah I think it’s… It depends on… A lot of people I think have certain foods that they have heard of, or if they taste it because maybe their grandparents or great grandparents came from a country that ate that particular dish.


Annie: [00:06:20] Right.


Elyse: [00:06:21] But I think with young modern people those other parts of the body other than the typical, steak, chicken leg kind of thing, nobody eats them very much anymore. I haven’t heard of eating them.


Annie: [00:06:32] Right. And they still get used but they get it in other products actually, you know.


Elyse: [00:06:36] They definitely get used in other products.


Annie: [00:06:38] Right. And in France, because gastronomy is so important, some of these parts of animals that most Americans and Canadians and Australians wouldn’t eat; have become kind of a delicacy here, right? Because they are special dishes, regional dishes, that have to do with them. And so yeah. They’ve become important. And people will tell you: oh you must try this!


Elyse: [00:07:06] Right. Right. Which sometimes you do once and then that is all.


Annie: [00:07:12] Yes. You’re good.


Elyse: [00:07:13] Although some people really like some of these things.


Annie: [00:07:16] So yeah. So why are we telling you all of this at all? Why are we discussing this subject that’s a little bit unsettling for some people I’m sure. It’s because you will find these foods on the menu in many French restaurants. And the way this works is that it’s usually presented as a special.


Elyse: [00:07:36] Yeah.


Annie: [00:07:38] So different restaurants will get into the habit of offering this delicacy food on specific days of the week.


Annie: [00:07:48] And the locals know that, and they like it, and so they go to that restaurant on a Thursday or whatever the case may be, just because they know it’s on the menu that day. And so when you ask, as a visitor, when you ask for the special, sometimes there’s typically there’s two three things that you can choose from. And, on a regular basis, I wouldn’t say all the time, but regularly, one of these possibilities is one of these somewhat bizarre French foods.


Elyse: [00:08:19] And generally, my experience has been that it tends to be perhaps in more restaurants in general in Paris. But otherwise it’s regional food restaurants. So that you have a restaurant that specializes in Alsatian food, or from Auvergne, which is in the center of the country. Yeah. Then they will always have one or maybe two specials that are specific to that region.


Annie: [00:08:40] Right.


Elyse: [00:08:40] And that’s where a lot of these dishes come from.


Annie: [00:08:43] Right. And they usually can’t make them every day. You know, like you couldn’t show up at a restaurant and say oh, today I want to try this weird food that I heard about on the podcast. It’s not going to work that way. If, you know, if they have it they have it. They they don’t stock this stuff everything.


Annie: [00:09:03] But there is one place in France where I know for a fact that they have a lot of them and that’s called Les Grands Buffets in Narbonne. It’s this fancy..ish. It’s like a Las… If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas buffets, it kind of looks like one of the nicer Las Vegas Buffet.


Elyse: [00:09:20] Is it like a Buffet that’s like a salad bar but for other kinds of food?


Annie: [00:09:23] Oh yeah, it’s… It’s the salad bar part of it is very small. OK. It’s got all French specialties. And so you have some part of it where they have a lot of cooks. They have big, big displays where they show all the things that they can make on order for you. And they also have chafing dishes with traditional French foods.


Elyse: [00:09:50] That they keep warm for you?


Annie: [00:09:50] That they keep they keep warm. And then in those chafing dishes, they have weird foods. That are weird local foods. And they… They taste some of them… I hadn’t tasted before. But because I was there not too long ago, I thought OK I’ve got to try, this at least a bite, you know. And so if you are adventurous, and you want to try a lot of these French specialties Les Grands Buffets would be a good place.


Elyse: [00:10:23] And that you have to go to Narbonne.


Annie: [00:10:25] And for that you have to go to Narbonne…


Elyse: [00:10:26] Which is episode? I don’t remember.


Annie: [00:10:28] I don’t remember I will put it in the show notes [Addendum: Narbonne, City at the Crossroads is Episode 163] or in the introduction, maybe I’ll add it to the introduction. But it’s also a place where you have to reserve, because it’s very very popular. You know you. Yeah.


Elyse: [00:10:42] There are a few brasseries I know in Paris that are famous for regional foods, like one that I know comes where almost everything comes from Auvergen, and one from Alsace.


Annie: [00:10:53] Do you remember any of the names of those?


Elyse: [00:10:55] No but I do remember that both of those are not far from the Place de la Bastille.


Elyse: [00:11:00] OK.


Elyse: [00:11:00] On either boulevard de Magenta or one of those right there.


Annie: [00:11:04] OK.


Elyse: [00:11:04] And they specifically have foods from regions like that. And so you want some of these dishes. It’s a good place to go and check out.


Annie: [00:11:12] That’s good. That’s good to know. All right. If you are in France and you want to try some of these specialties you could go to any charcuterie. And they usually stock some of them, not all of them, but some of them.


Elyse: [00:11:27] The ones that are. You mean like a “traiteur” would?


Annie: [00:11:30] Yeah, yeah. “Les charcutiers”, if it’s a “boucherie-charcuterie”.


Elyse: [00:11:36] They will have some of them.


Annie: [00:11:37] They will often have “andouilles”, or you know, or some of these weird foods that you can buy. And they don’t have all of them, you know. I don’t know a single place in France where you could show up with this list that I’m going to make for you, and have them and have them all. No it’s doesn’t work that way, you know.


Elyse: [00:11:54] And I think some people have a tendency to, if they come from a region like Burgundy they know that there are certain foods that are like these that are from there. So we should start naming them because I’m sure people getting curious about what it is that you’re talking about.


Annie: [00:12:08] I’ve got to tell one more thing. If you want to make them, there are lots of recipes. I’m not going to give you specific recipes here, but I’m going to do is tell you how it’s made generally speaking. And then if you want to recipe… There’s a really good site called Marmiton I don’t you ever go look at recipes there?


Elyse: [00:12:29] No.


Annie: [00:12:29] It’s a really good site. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. All right! And we’ll keep the cheese and stuff for the end.


Elyse: [00:12:38] Because they come at the end of the meal!


Annie: [00:12:40] Because they come at the end of the meal, exactly! And we start with the beginning of the meal which is the seafood platter.


Elyse: [00:12:47] Seafood platter. You’ve got three things there which I do not eat.


Annie: [00:12:52] I see!


Elyse: [00:12:52] There you are right away.


Annie: [00:12:54] So maybe I should talk about that. OK oysters, “les huitres” which is something that people love you know we love them we eat a lot of them. We usually don’t eat them cooked although there’s a few places where you will find them cooked. We usually eat them on the half shell and they are delicious. And I love them and…


oyster platter on a festive table
Photo Annie Sargent


Elyse: [00:13:15] It is something that I mean I know you and I and other people I know who love them love love love them. Yes and it is true that in France unlike in the States, it is mostly eaten on the half shell raw. It’s not something you cook with. You don’t. Right. There are some places in the States like in the northwest in the states where you can cook them. It’s also something that, I don’t know if that’s me, I associate with Christmas time a lot.


Annie: [00:13:39] Yes, Christmas and festive occasions usually winter months.


Elyse: [00:13:43] Right.


Annie: [00:13:43] Most of the time because the oyster beds are reproducing right now as we’re going into the spring and summer. They’re not going to be drawing a lot of. It’s not the right time. Another one that’s really typical that you will find on oyster platters is “bulots”.


Elyse: [00:14:02] Bulots.


Annie: [00:14:02] “Les bulots”. It’s this, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s almost a snail.


Elyse: [00:14:07] Well, I was going to say…


Annie: [00:14:08] It looks like a snail.


Elyse: [00:14:09] It really looks like a snail to me. It’s very small.


Annie: [00:14:11] And they’re boiled in a broth.


Elyse: [00:14:14] Right.


Annie: [00:14:15] And you go dig out the animal. And it’s not something I like, but it’s… The fancier the seafood platter, the more you will find of these different things different things. On a very fancy seafood platter you will find, steamed crab right, “bulots”, oysters, shrimp, oursins, which is the next thing. That’s sea urchin right. I have only tried those once and I thought “Why do people eat this? It’s disgusting”.


Elyse: [00:14:45] But then, you eat oysters?


Annie: [00:14:47] But, but, urchins are really really strong flavor. And there’s nothing to eat.


Elyse: [00:14:52] Mostly iodine tasting I bet, right?


Annie: [00:14:54] I don’t remember.


Elyse: [00:14:55] That’s something I haven’t tasted that. I have tasted the “bulots”, not last summer but the summer before when we were up in Brittany.


Annie: [00:15:02] Well yeah.


Elyse: [00:15:02] We did a little bit of traveling, and one night went to this restaurant that was supposed to be kind of nice place. And as a first course they offered this and I didn’t know what it was! And I thought it was kind of like shrimp which I love. And then they served this kind of bowl of these tiny little snail looking thing. And I ate two, and I went oh no this is not going to work. And that was the end of that. So the name has stuck in my mind forever. Yes. So it is a delicacy though.


Annie: [00:15:33] Yes, yes, it’s something people like, you know.


Annie: [00:15:37] Foie gras.


dish or foie gras with toast and red berries
Foie gras


Elyse: [00:15:39] Ah, “foie gras”.


Annie: [00:15:39] Yeah I’ll let you talk about “foie gras”. OK.


Elyse: [00:15:42] I mean I know really that, not only in the states, but particularly in the States, there is there is a huge campaign for people to not eat it. People feel like it… It’s from animals that have been mistreated. Of course it’s we’re talking mostly ducks used to be also geese but mostly now it’s ducks.


Elyse: [00:16:03] It’s a specialty,. Particularly of the southwest of France. I don’t know anybody here who does not eat it. Even though because it is very rich, most people just eat a little bit at a time. I do eat it. I don’t make it myself. And I don’t buy a lot of it. Partly because it is very very rich. But I do eat it, and I have to admit that it is not something… Because I have spent so much time with French people, you and other people, who feel it’s just a typical specialty of the Southwest that I have… I may be, may be insensitive in a way to people’s arguments about why you should not eat it. But for the moment I still do eat it but only a little bit. I don’t go out of my way to buy it.


Annie: [00:16:55] Right. It’s not a food that we eat tons of. No I don’t eat it most of the year. I mean, I in the whole year I probably eat, you know, 200 grams of “foie gras”. It’s nothing.


Elyse: [00:17:11] For holidays.


Annie: [00:17:11] Yes, it’s for the holidays. I don’t enjoy it. My husband… It’s often on… At restaurants it’s often offered as an extra option for your appetizer. And my husband chooses that a lot.


Elyse: [00:17:28] He likes it.


Annie: [00:17:28] Yeah, he loves that. But he knows that I don’t buy it a lot at home, and so he likes to order it whenever whenever we eat out. But I don’t do that. I will have, you know if it’s Christmas time and the family is gathered and my sister in law has made a nice beautiful platter with “foie gras” in it, I’ll eat it.


Elyse: [00:17:46] Yeah that’s pretty much me too.


Annie: [00:17:48] And I enjoy it.


Elyse: [00:17:49] I enjoy it. Yeah but I won’t go out of my way to get it either. No. Well I mean there are lots of arguments for and against. But to me are similar to arguments about whether you eat animal products or not. So to me I don’t personally… I think if you accept that you eat meat and animal products, I don’t see that much of a difference in general. But that’s debatable it is debatable. But it is a specialty. And I have a friend who makes her own.


Annie: [00:18:21] Oh, I’ve made my own too.


Elyse: [00:18:22] Oh, you have made my own? And really it’s part of what people eat particularly in certain parts of France.


Annie: [00:18:29] My sister makes her own. My sister in law makes her own. We all make our own in the family. We all have our plan where, where are you going to go get your livers this year?


Elyse: [00:18:41] Your “foie”.


Annie: [00:18:41] And whatever. And you know you have people sharing tips with you. You know, just like you’d be sharing tips about the best price shoes or whatever.


Elyse: [00:18:51] Right.


Annie: [00:18:51] Well we do that with that with duck liver. It’s kind of sick. I haven’t made any at home for a few years.


Elyse: [00:18:57] There is actually, there is what they call the “marché du gras” which is in the Gers, which is the department next to us west of Toulouse. Where there are several weekends, I guess it’s from October, where they… People go to buy huge quantities. And that’s that’s where that’s where most of the area is filled with ducks and so you do that.


Annie: [00:19:18] And you can buy it lots of different places. Anyway, it’s it’s one that you have an opinion about. Form your own opinion. Eat it don’t eat it but you will find it in a lot of restaurants.


Elyse: [00:19:31] Everywhere!


Annie: [00:19:31] Yeah pretty much everywhere. Then the other strange French food is Steak Tartare. Which is really a raw piece of ground beef.


plate of steak tartare, fries and a side salad
Photo Annie Sargent


Elyse: [00:19:43] Right.


Annie: [00:19:44] OK. It’s something that, if I’m eating beef, I enjoy it. Right now I’m on a kick where I’m not eating beef, so… But I come and go. I’m a terrible vegetarian. I’m I’m a vegetarian at heart, but I transgresses a lot.


Elyse: [00:19:59] Now I would say that maybe because in the last few years it’s become very fashionable. You can even find it on menus in the States now.


Annie: [00:20:09] Is that right?


Elyse: [00:20:10] Yeah. It’s become very much the thing to eat. So it used to be more something you’d find only here, but I was surprised my last two visits back to the states, that you would see it…


Annie: [00:20:22] You can find it?


Elyse: [00:20:23] Yes you can find it.


Annie: [00:20:24] Oh that’s interesting.


Elyse: [00:20:25] And I guess, obviously, it’s… It’s a little bit like the same thing as sushi. You have to just make sure that what you’re eating is very fresh.


Annie: [00:20:35] Yes, yes. Well in restaurants they… And that’s what you pay the restaurant.


Elyse: [00:20:38] It is something I do not eat. Interestingly enough, even though I am not a vegetarian at all. So that’s… I can’t eat it raw. I just can’t eat raw. I’m not there yet, you know.


Annie: [00:20:50] Yes. And so there’s a… There’s a little bit of a different take on it. There’s some places they will do “Steak Tartare aller-retour” is what they call it. That means that they put it on a very hot pan with some oil both sides. It is seared both sides but the inside is completely raw.


Elyse: [00:21:11] And then sometimes they put an egg on top of it.


Annie: [00:21:13] OK that’s “à cheval”.


Annie: [00:21:15] Ah, that’s “à cheval”. Not “de cheval” but “à cheval”.


Elyse: [00:21:19] Yes. Oh yes yes. Maybe that’s a moment to say that. That it is a fact. Here is where I’m very American. I guess, right? There is horse meat in some restaurants. And that’s a good thing to explain the difference between “à cheval” and “de cheval” so that people don’t do this.


Annie: [00:21:39] OK, “si c’est steak de cheval”, “de”, that’s… It’s horse meat. If it’s “steak à cheval” with an A with an accent on it, that means that there is a cooked egg on top top.


Elyse: [00:21:54] Yes, big difference.


Annie: [00:21:55] And we do that with with ground beef, with all sorts of food. Sometimes they will just add an egg on top. Even pizza.


Elyse: [00:22:04] Yeah.


Annie: [00:22:06] So, so that’s “à cheval”.


Elyse: [00:22:08] Right.


Annie: [00:22:08] Yeah. So, and sometimes. OK. How do we say that in French? When it’s chopped… When it’s not ground beef that’s made in a machine, but it’s chopped.


Elyse: [00:22:21] Oh, hand chopped?


Annie: [00:22:22] Yeah. “Au couteau”. That’s what they call it. “Steak Tartare au couteau”


Elyse: [00:22:27] Ah, I didn’t I didn’t know that.


Annie: [00:22:28] Right. And so…


Elyse: [00:22:28] It’s bigger pieces then?


Annie: [00:22:29] It’s a little bigger pieces and it’s very recognizable. I mean, you know. And Steak Tartare always has seasonings that go with. Including a raw egg.


Elyse: [00:22:42] Ah! How interesting!


Annie: [00:22:43] Yes. So, you know, it’s it’s really a food that really a lot of Americans, and North Americans, and Australians would not eat.


Elyse: [00:22:53] Would not eat. Yeah. OK.


Annie: [00:22:54] But I’m sorry to say it’s delicious.


Elyse: [00:22:56] OK. I’ll let you eat it.


Annie: [00:22:58] But it’s the seasonings. Oh, right now I won’t eat it. I’ll probably go… See this is what I do. I do a few months where I’m vegetarian.


Elyse: [00:23:04] And then a few months where you’re not.


Annie: [00:23:05] And then a few months where I’m not. Because I’m weak.


Elyse: [00:23:09] No! It’s just your body says not, no now I need to eat meat, that’s all.


Annie: [00:23:15] OK. Another strange food is “moules marinières”.


a dish of moules marinières


Elyse: [00:23:18] Yeah, I’m not sure if that’s so strange.


Annie: [00:23:22] Really? I’ve never seen that in America.


Elyse: [00:23:23] Oh, sure. Any place that has muscles. Italian restaurants will have it, all everywhere. Places that have a lot of fish and seafood. Especially if they’re on the coasts: East Coast or West Coast. Mussels are never eaten raw, so most of the time I’ve never seen mussels eaten raw.


Annie: [00:23:44] I used to as a kid.


Elyse: [00:23:45] But muscles in “marinière” which is of course know basically a white wine sauce. You will see more and more and especially especially if you go to Italian restaurants.


Annie: [00:23:58] Very good. So “moules marinières”. So this would be anywhere in France. Typically it’s served in a big old pot.


Elyse: [00:24:06] In a big pot.


Annie: [00:24:07] And some places they will say “à volonté”.


Elyse: [00:24:10] Yeah.


Annie: [00:24:10] So you eat your pot and then you…I mean it’s mostly shell.


Elyse: [00:24:14] Right. And it’s always served with French fries.


Annie: [00:24:17] Yes. Always served with French fries.


Elyse: [00:24:18] Always.


Annie: [00:24:19] And sometimes when you get to the bottom of the pot, you can ask for another one. It’s just depends.


Elyse: [00:24:22] I love it.


Annie: [00:24:25] And in Normandy they will do a similar take on that, except they use cream. And that is so good, it’s awful. It’s awful good awful. But you wouldn’t eat that, right?


Elyse: [00:24:38] No.


Annie: [00:24:39] You’re not a cream person.


Elyse: [00:24:39] I’m not a cream person.


Annie: [00:24:40] Nope nope.


Elyse: [00:24:41] I like my little white wine in there.


Annie: [00:24:44] It’s white wine and onions and garlic and parsley. Yeah. OK. Gésiers.


Elyse: [00:24:52] All right. It’s, the word Englishes giblets. And particularly in the last few years it’s become very fashionable to have a salad with “gésiers”. And in general it’s duck giblets. Which means it’s basically a dish that originally comes from the southwest of France, which now I think you can pretty much find anywhere. And they’re are cooked just like the pieces of duck, and cooked in their own fat and preserved. They’re boiled and then preserved so that when they’re taken out you can heat it up and put it on a bed of salad greens. That’s usually the way it’s served. And in my experience yes. And if I happen to like it I think some people who taste it find it interesting until they know what it is.


Elyse: [00:25:45] Because in certain parts of the duck. But I grew up in a family where my grandma who was from Eastern Europe made giblets all the time.


Annie: [00:25:55] I see.


Elyse: [00:25:56] So I think it’s really what we’re used to eating.


Annie: [00:25:59] Yeah yeah.


Elyse: [00:25:59] And so for me not that strange.


Annie: [00:26:03] I think the giblet is the first part of the stomach of these animals.


Elyse: [00:26:07] It’s actually a mix. It’s heart and…


Annie: [00:26:11] Heart?!


Elyse: [00:26:11] Yeah. It’s also the heart. Yeah. Yeah yeah. And it’s. And it’s another part somewhere. I’m pointing with my fingers down there…


Annie: [00:26:21] Because I thought I always thought that was the part of the stomach where they grind down stones. I think.


Elyse: [00:26:30] Yes but they also used other parts. It’s not just one the giblet is not just one part. As far as I know I may be wrong maybe. [Addendum: Definitely wrong! Giblets have nothing to do with the heart!].


Annie: [00:26:37] I think when you buy a thing, “une salade de gésiers”, it is sliced.


Elyse: [00:26:41] Well well we’ll have to… But a little parts of the animal that you normally would not think about.


Annie: [00:26:46] Yeah.


Elyse: [00:26:47] But it actually is very good.


Annie: [00:26:48] And the way they make it is they use duck fat and they cook it for a long long time.


Elyse: [00:26:54] It’s very tasty!


Annie: [00:26:54] Yeah but it has to be cooked along very long time because it’s really hard. Yeah it’s but it’s not cooked in broth, it’s cooked in duck fat, which makes it really delicious.


Elyse: [00:27:06] Yes.


Annie: [00:27:07] Coq au vin.


Elyse: [00:27:08] Now, Coq au vin, to me. Before I even came to live in France, to me this was a classic of French cuisine. So I wouldn’t put it in the weird category. It’s it’s classic like beef Bourgignon. A dish where they use wine for cooking. Basically, the reason it’s a little bit odd maybe compared to other dishes, is because it’s the cock. Which means the rooster.


Annie: [00:27:35] Yeah.


Elyse: [00:27:36] That’s usually, I suppose…


Annie: [00:27:38] That that means rooster in France folks, she didn’t use a bad word right there. No, that’s a rooster.


Elyse: [00:27:44] It’s a rooster. And my guess is just like with a lot of dishes that start on a farm,, that it was when the animal was so old that they had to you know use it. And it’s tough because it’s been around for a while, that they started cooking it in old red wine. Because that helps soften it up. My guess is that’s how it started probably possibly delicious. You don’t like it?


Annie: [00:28:08] I don’t like anything cooked in wine that much. A little bit of wine is fine, but cooking in red wine…. That’s why I wasn’t super fond of the…


Elyse: [00:28:17] Boeuf Bourgignon?


Annie: [00:28:19] Boeuf Bourgignon, I will eat it once in a while. But when we were in Burgundy.


Elyse: [00:28:23] Yeah?


Annie: [00:28:23] They cook everything in wine.


Elyse: [00:28:24] See, you like Normandy because everything everything’s cooked in cream!


Annie: [00:28:28] Yes!


Elyse: [00:28:28] And I like to when it’s cooked in wine!


Annie: [00:28:30] I’d much rather have either a white wine or…Cooked in white wine, I don’t find it strange. OK. Cooked in cream I like, cooked in tomato sauce I love. So, you know…


Elyse: [00:28:44] But the red wine?


Annie: [00:28:46] But the red wine, not a fan.


Elyse: [00:28:46] It’s rich. I love it!


Annie: [00:28:46] The next thing is, we’re staying in Bourgogne…


Elyse: [00:28:46] We’re staying in Burgundy!


Annie: [00:28:46] Is “Escargots de Bourgogne”.


dish of escargots at a restaurant
Escargots, photo Annie Sargent


Elyse: [00:28:52] OK, here we go. You like?


Annie: [00:28:54] No!


Elyse: [00:28:54] Me, no!


Annie: [00:28:54] No no no I don’t like.


Elyse: [00:28:57] No, me no.


Annie: [00:28:58] I don’t eat those.


Elyse: [00:28:59] I did taste them once.


Annie: [00:29:01] Yeah I’ve tasted them!


Elyse: [00:29:02] They are cooked in lots of butter and garlic usually. But I can’t get past the fact that it’s a snail.


Elyse: [00:29:11] I just, I mean, that’s it.


Annie: [00:29:14] So not so long ago I bought… They had a special at the store and it was mussels. Like on the half shell they, were frozen. OK. So they’re fancy looking mussels that you eat as an appetizer. And it was a sauce that was very much a butter and garlic and parsley sauce. And it reminded me of how you would eat “escargots” because it’s just mostly butter and seasonings, you know.


Elyse: [00:29:46] But you know, when we did our trip last year with people in Paris you remember how many people tasted the escargots?


Annie: [00:29:53] Yes, most people try them.


Elyse: [00:29:53] Most people try them and actually some people like them. And whether it’s because they actually like the taste of the snail, or whether it’s because they like that butter and garlic.


Annie: [00:30:03] Oh, it’s the butter!


Elyse: [00:30:04] But honestly, I think maybe if it was disguised it’s something else I might try it and like it. But I just can’t deal with the fact that it’s a snail. And it is really a specialty. And a lot of people love them. And maybe people should know that the most snails that are served in a restaurant are snails that have been bred to be eaten. They’re not just snails out there. And they’re given corn meal. So there is no danger in eating them, it’s just a question of whether you like the idea of eating them or not.


Annie: [00:30:38] Yeah. OK. Next one “rillettes”.


Elyse: [00:30:42] Ah, my husband loves “rillettes”.


Annie: [00:30:43] I can’t stand them!


Elyse: [00:30:43] Really?


Annie: [00:30:45] So you will find “rillettes” of all sorts of things. “Rillettes de porc”, “rillettes de canard”, “rillettes de saumon”.


Elyse: [00:30:53] “D’oie”.


Annie: [00:30:58] Ah, “d’oie”.


Elyse: [00:31:00] Mais, saumon ? So I don’t know if it comes to the same category because it’s basically the word is used now to talk about a spread.


Annie: [00:31:09] Exactly. It’s a meaty spread with lots of fat in it.


Elyse: [00:31:11] With a lot of fat in it. Salmon and tuna ones I’ve bought them recently they’re not bad they’re not quite the same. They’re not as heavy rich as the meat ones.


Annie: [00:31:21] Yeah. No. No I don’t eat that.


Elyse: [00:31:22] You don’t like the consistency of it?


Annie: [00:31:24] I think it’s way too fatty.


Elyse: [00:31:26] Yes my husband loves it.


Annie: [00:31:28] Yeah lots of people lots of people! And you will find them served at “apéritif” a lot you know. So your pre dinner drinks you get nibbles and in a lot of families and things like that. Now and a lot of families they’ll just open a jar of rillettes and just attack it. Yeah like at my brother’s they do that.


Elyse: [00:31:50] The difference between pâté and rillettes is pâté is chopped.


Annie: [00:31:54] Right. And this is the fat content is a lot less. I mean, it’s still super high! It’s super high.


Elyse: [00:31:59] But the rillettes is like shredded teeny pieces like the one that’s made from from Goose and it’s mixed with a lot of fat. And it is unfortunately very tasty even though it is extremely fatty. So it’s got a different consistency. There are people who will eat paté that won’t eat rillettes.


Annie: [00:32:15] That’s me.


Elyse: [00:32:16] That’s you. And then, you know, there are people who like it all.


Annie: [00:32:20] Yeah.


Elyse: [00:32:21] It’s bad for your heart. But it’s good in your stomach.


Annie: [00:32:24] Another thing that we eat in France that you’ll often find in restaurants is when they serve Pot-au-feu. Pot-au-feu is a beef and vegetable stew. It’s really delicious.


Elyse: [00:32:36] It’s cooked in a broth as opposed to a heavy sauce.


Annie: [00:32:40] Right. And typically it is served with bone marrow.


Elyse: [00:32:46] That’s right.


Annie: [00:32:47] Now for a while they stopped doing that because of mad cow disease.


Elyse: [00:32:52] Yes. Right.


Annie: [00:32:54] But now that we don’t have too much problem with that anymore in Europe, or any at all, as far as I know. People have gone back to eating beef bone marrow.


Elyse: [00:33:05] Well now, interestingly enough, and I love making that interesting because it’s the vegetables are actually cooked in a broth so they’re kind of like.


Annie: [00:33:13] Well you cook your meat and then you keep the broth.


Elyse: [00:33:15] But the it’s traditional to put in two or three of those bones that have the marrow in it to add flavor to the broth. And again, it’s a question of what you’re used to eating because I grew up in a household where we did eat that. So…


Annie: [00:33:32] Even in America?


Elyse: [00:33:33] Yeah. Yup. And so it was not something weird to me, although it is a strange consistency you know.


Annie: [00:33:41] Right right. But it’s so good with…


Elyse: [00:33:42] But either like it or you don’t like it.


Annie: [00:33:44] So with fresh bread you spoon it out you put it on your fresh bread and you add a little salt on top. Oh it is so good!


Elyse: [00:33:50] See you like that. Now the thing is is that some people will find that totally disgusting.


Annie: [00:33:56] It’s almost 100 percent fat, because bone marrow is…


Elyse: [00:34:00] Is that what it is?


Annie: [00:34:00] Oh yeah it’s extremely fatty, yeah. See, I don’t I don’t like it “rillettes”, but I love it in the pot-au-feu.


Elyse: [00:34:08] And then there is a different consistency because it was cooked in the broth.


Annie: [00:34:12] Right, but the broth you create when you’re cooking your meat.


Elyse: [00:34:16] It’s very tasty.


Annie: [00:34:16] Oh yes it’s very good. I mean I used to make it all the time almost everybody in my family gone vegetarian, so.


Elyse: [00:34:23] Actually in terms of stew and dishes with meat Pot-au-feu is actually fairly dietetic because you have the carrots,, leeks turnips, onions that are cooked in this broth. So it’s not very fatty. Yeah. And then the beef on the side.


Annie: [00:34:39] The fatty part is the marrow the marrow. And then when you when you’re done cooking all of that in a big old pressure cooker, you remove. So, I could even give you the recipe. This is. I used to make this all the time in the winter. You get lots of beef shanks. They have to be beef Shanks because they are they’re more gelatinous. And you cook them and then you put them under pressure for maybe 50 60 minutes, for a long time. Then you add your you open your pot. You add your vegetables and you cook for 50 60. No the vegetables you cook for 15 minutes, sorry. And then you open that, and then you remove everything and you serve the the meat and the vegetable.


Elyse: [00:35:29] And what do you do with the broth?


Annie: [00:35:31] The broth you put it to cool and then the next day you have… It’s cooled, and so all the fat has risen to the surface you skim it off if you want to be good to your body. You skim it off, and then you add noodles. Oh that’s interesting. Now when you eat it the next day.


Elyse: [00:35:47] That’s very interesting because…


Annie: [00:35:49] But in restaurants they don’t do that. In restaurants they will serve your Pot-au-feu with the broth as the appetizer, and then the beef and the vegetable.


Elyse: [00:35:57] That’s how I learned from other French friends who made it that way to have the broth first.


Annie: [00:36:03] But then you have to make it the day before because you don’t have the broth you make as you making your dish right.


Elyse: [00:36:09] But we always had the broth and then a platter with just eaten them.


Annie: [00:36:12] So they probably cooked the meat and the vegetables they before. And that’s how restaurants do it. You know that’s how you do it. It’s delicious. It is delicious beef, which I don’t right now. It’s delicious. Fantastic. This is probably what’s going to bring me back to eating beef one day. But not until next winter.


Elyse: [00:36:31] OK OK. OK.


Annie: [00:36:35] Another thing we eat in the Southwest is really really good is the “coeurs de canards”.


Elyse: [00:36:39] Which is like the “gésiers”.


Annie: [00:36:41] But it’s hearts. But these are really hearts. And all those are so good.


Elyse: [00:36:47] See you like that.


Annie: [00:36:47] With “persillade” and…


Elyse: [00:36:48] See, to me it’s like the giblets, the gésiers, it’s pretty much the same.


Annie: [00:36:53] No no no no it’s much more tender. It’s much more tender. So when people… When visitors from the U.S. friends family whatever when they come for the first time I always make them a scary meal. And a scary meal is all these foods that they normally wouldn’t eat.


Elyse: [00:37:10] So that they won’t come back again?


Annie: [00:37:14] They’ve all come back at least one more time. So, so I think I didn’t scare them well enough! But I usually include Duck hearts because you find those so easily in the south where they come they’re already prepackaged and you just heat them up and yeah it’s it’s very easy to find, whereas anywhere else. There are a lot of other places in France where you wouldn’t find them easily, so. So I make that and I like them but not everybody is going to like that.


Elyse: [00:37:43] No.


Annie: [00:37:44] OK. Then on my list I had the “steak à cheval” versus the “steak de cheval” but we’ve already talked about that.


Annie: [00:37:51] Then the “croque madame”.


Elyse: [00:37:52] Yeah. Well everyone, I think, knows or almost anyone knows. I think now that a Croque Monsieur is a very lovely French version of a grilled cheese and ham sandwich. And with the Madame it’s the egg on top.


Annie: [00:38:06] Right. So that’s the only difference.


Elyse: [00:38:07] It’s the only difference. But it makes a nice complete meal.


Annie: [00:38:10] Yes it’s a very complete meal, it fills you up. And most restaurant in Paris, anywhere they serve that with a salad.


Elyse: [00:38:16] A teeny green salad side salad. Yeah it’s a fun thing to eat. It’s better than your old traditional little grilled cheese sandwich on the American way.


Annie: [00:38:28] They’re both good.


Elyse: [00:38:28] Snacks.


Annie: [00:38:29] Yeah I like them both. All right now we’re getting to a little bit of the more bizarre food.


Elyse: [00:38:37] Yes. Yes esoteric.


Annie: [00:38:40] Yes things that we don’t necessarily eat Elyse and I. But we test them. Well we’ve tried some.


Elyse: [00:38:46] I’ve tried a couple of them.


Annie: [00:38:47] Yeah well fess up…


Elyse: [00:38:48] I’ll tell you which ones I’ve tasted.


Annie: [00:38:50] Well, the first one on the list is the “frittons”.


Elyse: [00:38:52] Yeah. Well you won’t get me near that, but that’s because I don’t eat fat too much. I bet you have it down here that it’s duck. But they also do it with pork.


Annie: [00:39:03] Maybe they do. Yeah maybe they do.


Elyse: [00:39:05] In Spain I know they make it with pork pork rind.


Annie: [00:39:08] It’s essentially pork rinds or duck…


Elyse: [00:39:12] Fried right till it’s crispy.


Annie: [00:39:13] What they do is when they are done removing all the good parts of the duck, or the skin that’s left and the fat that’s left. They cut it up and they put it in in a pot.


Elyse: [00:39:24] In a fryer?


Annie: [00:39:25] Yeah, well, no. It is some pot and… it will melt.


Elyse: [00:39:28] Why is it getting crispy, though?


Annie: [00:39:29] Because you leave it long enough that it gets crispy. And it’s absolutely inedible as far as I’m concerned.


Elyse: [00:39:36] You don’t like it?


Annie: [00:39:37] I will not eat that. I have tried some, because I didn’t know what it was.


Elyse: [00:39:40] There are some people who love it. They’ll eat like potato chips.


Annie: [00:39:42] Yeah I know I don’t eat pork rinds either in the U.S.. No.


Elyse: [00:39:47] But see it’s interesting because it is one of those things that people either love or hate.


Annie: [00:39:50] Right. And that’s typically served at “apéritif”.


Elyse: [00:39:52] Yeah.


Annie: [00:39:53] Very often. And in Lyon, oh I serve that for “apéro”. Beurk!


Elyse: [00:40:01] I’d rather have an olive!


Annie: [00:40:03] Me too! Give me an olive any day.


Elyse: [00:40:05] Any day. Yes yes.


Annie: [00:40:07] Another one is pieds de porc.


Elyse: [00:40:09] Oh yes. And today I actually looked up a little because there’s and I knew that it’s a specialty of the Basque country among other places. They have. I couldn’t remember…


Annie: [00:40:19] It’s pig’s feet!


Elyse: [00:40:19] Pig’s feet. Cooked in wine and aromatics and herbs and things like that. It’s a real specialty of the Catalonia area and of the Basque Country. Why more in the south of France? I don’t know. But it is really a specialty on menus in those areas right.


Annie: [00:40:40] And so in France they will serve them whole. So when they bring you your plate, it looks like a pig’s foot.


Elyse: [00:40:50] But really?


Annie: [00:40:51] Yes, but not not… And so, my husband’s grandfather was from the south of the U.S.


Elyse: [00:40:58] Yeah.


Annie: [00:40:59] And he grew up really liking pigs feet. Canned.


Elyse: [00:41:04] Canned, jellied, right?


Annie: [00:41:05] And in this case they have removed all the bones. And they just keep the jelly and the fat and the skin.


Elyse: [00:41:12] But but but you’re saying that when they serve this here they leave the bone.


Elyse: [00:41:18] Yes. Oh yes. I’ve seen it on the menus. I have not tasted it.


Annie: [00:41:22] I have tasted it, but I haven’t ordered it in decades. This is not something I eat frequently. But there…. Are I’m pretty sure that my little restaurant in my village.


Elyse: [00:41:33] Serves it.


Annie: [00:41:34] Serves it on a special day every week.


Elyse: [00:41:36] A lot of people love it. I know in Catalonia they love it.


Annie: [00:41:40] It’s really fatty and gelatinous.


Elyse: [00:41:42] Like a little bit like the meat that’s used in pot-au-feu, but it’s cooked totally different.


Elyse: [00:41:47] Right. Right.


Annie: [00:41:47] And a lot of these meats, the way they prepare them. The meats that I’m going to list starting now, the way they prepare them is they they will marinate them in a solution of water and vinegar. To remove undesirable flavors, I guess. And then they cook them in a brine with aromatics.


Elyse: [00:42:11] Right.


Annie: [00:42:11] For a long time.


Elyse: [00:42:13] OK.


Annie: [00:42:14] And then sometimes they debone and sometimes they don’t.


Elyse: [00:42:17] And then they add the wine later on?


Annie: [00:42:20] They could make a sauce on the side with more wine, but the brine contains wine and aromatics. Yeah a lot. And it’s usually white wine. Typically white wine because the red wine would color the food right.


Elyse: [00:42:34] I know red wine is used for wild boar more.


Annie: [00:42:38] Oh that’s another thing I would need.


Elyse: [00:42:39] Oh I’ve eaten it. Very good.


Annie: [00:42:41] I’ve tried it because sometimes you go to a fancy dinner and that’s what they’re serving!


Elyse: [00:42:47] Carcassonne, it’s one of the specialties. You don’t like it?


Annie: [00:42:51] No.


Elyse: [00:42:51] I do.


Annie: [00:42:52] No I don’t like “les machins faisandés”.


Elyse: [00:42:57] Yeah that’s one of the reasons they cook it in a red wine sauce. Yeah. So it’s not too strong.


Annie: [00:43:01] I don’t like red wine sauce anywhere. I find them.


Annie: [00:43:06] “Les tripes à la mode de Caen”.


Elyse: [00:43:06] Tripes in any fashion is not what I’m going to eat.


Annie: [00:43:11] No, me neither.


Elyse: [00:43:12] Tripes.


Annie: [00:43:13] That’s tripes. So it’s the inside lining of the stomach of cattle, or I think it can be pig too.


Elyse: [00:43:25] I’m not sure. I think it’s mostly cattle.


Annie: [00:43:28] Yeah, I think it’s cattle. They use pigs they usually add some pigs feet to that. It’s boiled in aromatics.


Elyse: [00:43:37] It is really really a specialty of Normandy.


Annie: [00:43:40] Yes it’s deboned. And then they bake it. And they bake it in a little dish and you’re supposed to make that mix. No you do a mix of water and flour to seal the outside of the dish. And then use either serve it in that dish or you remove it and then you you can serve it sliced or whatever. It is absolutely inedible, I’m sorry folks. I’m sure there are some people who are listening who love this stuff, but…


Elyse: [00:44:14] I you know I’ve never tasted it but that’s because honestly it’s I have a thing with certain textures and consistency. So it’s not even necessarily because of the part of the animal, because there are other things that are weird parts of animals that I will eat. I do eat liver and things like that. But I’ve seen tripe before it’s even cooked and so that is already an eliminator for me. But it is really considered a delicacy.


Annie: [00:44:42] It is.


Elyse: [00:44:43] And people love it. So, there you are.


Annie: [00:44:46] Yes. And so Caen, spelled C A E N. And I know Americans have a hard time saying that word but it’s CAEN. Just like the cancan. Yeah. If you dance the cancan.


Elyse: [00:45:02] Just like the city called the movie festival, no?


Annie: [00:45:05] Maybe they have a movie festival, I don’t know.


Elyse: [00:45:06] No. So what’s the difference between pronouncing CAEN and CANNES.


Annie: [00:45:11] Say that again?


Elyse: [00:45:12] CANNES…


Annie: [00:45:13] CANNES, oh, Cannes!


Elyse: [00:45:13] So CANNES et CAEN.


Annie: [00:45:13] Oui, exactement!


Elyse: [00:45:13] Cannes et Caen. OK.


Annie: [00:45:21] “C’est quand ?”.


Elyse: [00:45:22] Like “when”?


Annie: [00:45:22] “Quand est-ce que tu viens ?” Pareil, c’est “quand”. It’s the same.


Elyse: [00:45:26] Okay, thank you so much. I will never mispronounce it again. There you are, just figured it out. Okay.


Annie: [00:45:33] Took you long enough!


Elyse: [00:45:34] It took me long enough!


Annie: [00:45:34] Haven’t you been in France for 30 years?


Elyse: [00:45:37] Yeah, it’s just now I know. Okay that’s great.


Annie: [00:45:39] CAEN. “C’est Caen”.


Annie: [00:45:41] Okay. All right. Next bizarre food is one of the worst probably: it’s “andouillettes”.


Elyse: [00:45:46] We’re not trying to discourage, you understand.


Annie: [00:45:49] Oh, but we have to warn you, you really need to know these things because “Andouillette”…


Elyse: [00:45:52] Is on the menu a lot in Paris…


Annie: [00:45:52] It’s on the menu a lot!


Elyse: [00:45:55] In Paris.


Annie: [00:45:55] And I… Because if the waiter tells you it’s sausage, which it is.


Elyse: [00:46:02] Yeah.


Annie: [00:46:02] You might think “oh I like sausage I’ll have that!” No. This is sausage made out of intestinal material.


Elyse: [00:46:12] Yeah, it’s actually honestly. The shape is the shape of a sausage. But when you slice it and you see the the round layers yes it’s not the same it’s not the same consistency it’s not the same material inside. And as part of the problem as it has a very very strong taste and odor. Yes as people do like it, you have to be prepared for what it is.


Annie: [00:46:35] It’s intestines so you can imagine the odor that goes with it.


Elyse: [00:46:40] Although it is edible.


Annie: [00:46:41] Oh yeah it’s cleaned up. They… Before they make it so they will take the intestines, empty them, do the vinegar and water thing marinade to try and remove most of the offensive odor. They will… They will then cook it, roll it, put it in a sausage do all sorts of things with it.


Elyse: [00:47:03] But, it’s so interesting because you know, you’re French, I’m American. We’ve both been here quite a while anyway so I’ve never tasted tripes and I don’t want to. I once sat next to somebody who ordered Andouillette by mistake. And just looking at it and smelling it, that was that was the end of that. And pigs feet pretty much the same thing. But there are many French people who love these things.


Annie: [00:47:28] Right. My brother! Ah so the lunch time I was telling my husband what we were going to talk about on the podcast and he said Oh you probably don’t know this but he went… He met my brother for lunch once and my brother ordered Andouillette, and he said just sitting across from him eating that and he was so happy to be eating this crap.


Elyse: [00:47:49] Right.


Annie: [00:47:51] Literally, that bad. And David was like I can’t believe he’s eating this! Just the smell makes me want to run away.


Elyse: [00:48:00] Because the truth is really let’s face it. It’s a question of what you grow up eating and what you’re used to eating.


Annie: [00:48:07] But we didn’t grow up eating that! We grew up in the same house. He developed that…


Elyse: [00:48:11] Well he likes to eat weird things.


Annie: [00:48:13] Yes I think he does. And the difference… So in France we have “andouillette” and we have “andouilles”.


Elyse: [00:48:21] Okay.


Annie: [00:48:22] Yes. It’s essentially the same thing. Except the Andouillettes are served hot. OK so they’ll be put on a or on a BBQ and…


Elyse: [00:48:30] Which looks much more like a big sausage.


Annie: [00:48:32] Right. And “andouilles” do you are sly…. They’re cold and they are sliced and they are often served at aperitif.


Elyse: [00:48:40] Or first course on charcuterie plate.


Annie: [00:48:43] Right. So if you’re at some big apéritif and something smells really funny…


Elyse: [00:48:47] Or it looks like…


Annie: [00:48:48] That’s probably it.


Elyse: [00:48:49] Like swirls.


Annie: [00:48:50] But you have to be careful because when it’s cold. If you take it out of the fridge and you put it on the table because it’s cold, the smell isn’t strong. Whereas if it’s cooked, the smell is apparent right away.


Elyse: [00:49:04] So you’re going to try to eat it cold.


Annie: [00:49:06] Yeah don’t try it. It’s gross!


Annie: [00:49:12] “Langue de boeuf”.


Elyse: [00:49:13] Now, I’ve eaten that.


Annie: [00:49:15] I’ve eaten that too. Don’t love it but…


Elyse: [00:49:17] I don’t love it but it’s not something that…


Annie: [00:49:21] That’s beef tongue by the way.


Elyse: [00:49:22] I mean I won’t go out of my way to eat it, but it doesn’t put me off as much as some of these other things do. Again. What’s the difference. I don’t really know. It’s a strange taste. Let’s face it.. But it somehow falls into the category of I won’t die if I have to put it in my mouth.


Annie: [00:49:41] Right.


Elyse: [00:49:42] As opposed to some of these other thing.


Annie: [00:49:44] Andouillette, there’s no way I’m putting that in my mouth.


Elyse: [00:49:45] No, no way, no way. I will go on a water diet. That would be the end of that! Good way to lose 5 kg.


Annie: [00:49:49] That would be good for me!


Elyse: [00:49:51] It would be really good!


Annie: [00:49:52] I should do that sometimes!


Elyse: [00:49:53] Really. As long as there’s ice cream next to the water, I’ll be OK. Now langue de boeuf. Yeah it’s interesting because they serve it also… There’s… I’ve had it in Italy. So it’s a dish that is not just French. Although I think that they don’t do it exactly the same way, but whatever. I mean it’s kind of like liver. It’s one of those that maybe is a little bit more familiar than some of the other parts of the animal.


Annie: [00:50:17] Right. And that’s also put in brine and then cooked for a long time with aromatics. And then chopped up or whatever it is that they do.


Elyse: [00:50:26] Now I have one that was not on the list that I just thought of as we were talking. And that is “Ris de veau”.


Annie: [00:50:33] It is on the list!


Elyse: [00:50:33] Where?


Annie: [00:50:34] Page 3.


Elyse: [00:50:36] I didn’t see it.


Annie: [00:50:37] It’s there. All right.


Elyse: [00:50:39] We’ll get to it!


Annie: [00:50:40] OK. Oh. Oh I see yes it is.


Elyse: [00:50:41] OK. All right.


Annie: [00:50:43] OK. Next one is “tête de veau Ravigotte” or “tête de veau vinaigrette”.


Elyse: [00:50:48] OK. Is it really tête de veau?


Annie: [00:50:51] Yes ma’am. OK. So, “tête” is the head and “veau” is veal. I’m sorry I told you at the beginning that some of this will get gross.


Elyse: [00:51:01] Is it really?


Annie: [00:51:02] So what they do is they…


Elyse: [00:51:06] I don’t know if I want to listen to this!


Annie: [00:51:06] They marinade it, and then they wrap it up and cheese cloth.


Elyse: [00:51:11] Aha.


Annie: [00:51:12] And then they boil that for like at least five hours. And then they dig it out. And then they remove all the bones, they debone it, and then they serve it.


Elyse: [00:51:27] It’s usually made in chunks? It’s like a loaf.


Annie: [00:51:31] Exactly. It can be made into a loaf.


Elyse: [00:51:33] So it’s sliced?


Annie: [00:51:33] Right. So if they bought it already made. OK so if the restaurant where you’re eating is serving two huge chunks of Ris de veau, that means they probably made it themselves.


Elyse: [00:51:45] No tête de veau”salad.


Annie: [00:51:45] “Tête de veau”, sorry “tête de veau”. They probably made…


Elyse: [00:51:48] OK, I’ve never seen it served.


Annie: [00:51:51] I have, I have. Or they put it into you know like…


Elyse: [00:51:57] A thing for “pâté”. You know like a “moule”.


Annie: [00:52:00] Right. But it’s like a sheath of fat in which they stuff all this and then they put string all around it to keep it together.


Elyse: [00:52:10] It’s got some gelatin and parsley usually.


Annie: [00:52:12] Oh yeah because like inside of the head obviously there’s a lot of cartilage like that and that that makes it like a jello thing.


Elyse: [00:52:21] The Alsatian restaurants and the Alsatian market for instance here Toulouse, they always have it right.


Annie: [00:52:27] Oh yeah. So it’s a very popular food.


Elyse: [00:52:28] Very popular. My way of seeing it has always been sliced as a first course.


Annie: [00:52:34] It could be sliced as a first course…


Elyse: [00:52:36] Cold!


Annie: [00:52:36] It could be a main…


Elyse: [00:52:37] Cold!


Annie: [00:52:38] Exactly. It’s usually served cold, or it could be served as a main.


Elyse: [00:52:41] Now to be fair…


Annie: [00:52:43] That’s the difference between the Ravigotte, where it’s hot, and vinaigrette, where it’s cold.


Elyse: [00:52:48] It is true that in most cultures where people use every part of an animal, for instance in North Africa they do similar thing with sheep because there’s more sheep than cows. And then there are people who will do the same thing with fish heads and take as much of the… And they use that to make a kind of fish broth with little pieces in it. It it really is…


Annie: [00:53:12] Which we don’t do in France.


Elyse: [00:53:14] No. And interestingly I guess it’s still a leftover of when every part of the animal was really precious. So you don’t let any of it go to waste.


Annie: [00:53:23] I guess that’s the right… If I had to butcher my own animals…


Elyse: [00:53:27] You would use every we use everything. Right. And it’s a way of conserving it because these things you can cook and then preserve so that you don’t have to eat everything right away.


Elyse: [00:53:36] And and again I think that’s why are traditional dishes that passed two generations, and most people probably don’t even think about it anymore in terms of what it really is. Because they’re so used to seeing it on a menu…


Annie: [00:53:49] That’s why we’re reminding them!


Elyse: [00:53:51] But this is I’m thinking more French people, who normally would eat it. Not necessarily an American. But it is true that slice like that you don’t really have an idea of what it is.


Annie: [00:54:01] Yeah yeah it doesn’t look like anything disturbing.


Elyse: [00:54:02] It doesn’t look like anything just nasty.


Annie: [00:54:06] OK. Do you want to talk about it go ahead.


Elyse: [00:54:08] Yeah. Although I’m looking at it, is it the thymus? Is it really? I thought it was the pancreas, actually.


Annie: [00:54:14] No the thymus is a part of the pancreas.


Elyse: [00:54:16] And it’s only that part?


Annie: [00:54:17] Yes.


Elyse: [00:54:18] Because it’s fairly big, I thought those were fairly big.


Annie: [00:54:20] Yeah. Those are big animals, I mean veals.


Elyse: [00:54:23] OK. Yeah. It’s like interestingly I have tasted it. I think there was a time when I actually liked it. My dear departed mom loved it. Loved it. I loved it.


Annie: [00:54:39] Right because this is, in English. What would you call it in English?


Elyse: [00:54:47] Oh shoot. Sweetbread!


Annie: [00:54:49] Sweetbreads. Yes.


Elyse: [00:54:51] And it’s strange because it’s a dish that is is made, and it’s rare, really rare. But occasionally you see it on a menu still. It’s here, you can get it in northern Italy. You can get it in some Eastern European countries as well. And I’m not sure why you could get it in certain parts of Europe and not in other parts compared to other things. It is…


Elyse: [00:55:16] If I remember correctly, I’ve never seen anybody actually cooking it, but if I remember correctly listening…


Annie: [00:55:22] I can tell you how.


Elyse: [00:55:24] No I think I don’t want you to. But what I do think is that it takes a while to cook. Yeah well you get to take the skin off on the outside.


Annie: [00:55:31] Exactly. So you cook it for not that long, but then you have to let it cool take the skin off, and then make a sauce on the side. Right. And the sauce on the side can be anything you wish. It could be kind of a sweet and sour sauce. It could be a mushroom sauce.


Elyse: [00:55:43] So that’s the way I’ve had it with mushroom sauce.


Annie: [00:55:46] Yeah, it could be. But you need to make a nice sauce on the side.


Elyse: [00:55:49] Now the reality is, it is just terribly disturbing to think about what it is. But having tasted it before I knew what it was. It was an interesting taste, even though it’s not my favorite thing.


Annie: [00:56:01] Yeah.


Elyse: [00:56:04] Whereas, once you know what it is, it makes a bit of a difference.


Elyse: [00:56:06] Yes. Yes.


Annie: [00:56:08] And another thing that we eat frequently in France, very very frequent. I should have put that to the top of the list but I didn’t, is “boudin noir”


Elyse: [00:56:16] Yeah that goes with the andouille for me. I won’t eat it.


Annie: [00:56:18] OK. So “boudin noir” was one that I will gladly eat.


Elyse: [00:56:21] See.


Annie: [00:56:22] Because I was raised with my my father who was raised on the farm. But it was a it was a semi farm. They had they had animals, they had… And they they would raise a pig each year and then swap pigs with another person and then butcher the pig and make everything.


Annie: [00:56:43] And so they had this few days in the year where the whole family had to make all of this and what his favorite was was “le boudin” which is…


Elyse: [00:56:54] It’s maade with blood.


Annie: [00:56:56] It’s made with blood, the blood of the pig. And so it’s onions seasonings, pork jaw, which you chop up, lard, to pork blood, and more fat and lots of seasoning.


Elyse: [00:57:09] I will… I won’t eat it.


Annie: [00:57:10] See that’s one that I will eat. And because I was iron deficient for a long time.


Elyse: [00:57:15] Aha.


Annie: [00:57:16] The doctors actually encouraged me to eat it. They said at least once a week.


Elyse: [00:57:20] Oh really.


Annie: [00:57:21] Yes. I don’t think it made as big a difference as taking supplements really. But but…


Elyse: [00:57:27] Or even just red meat.


Annie: [00:57:29] Yeah, but I don’t enjoy red meat. But…


Elyse: [00:57:32] The fact that I know it’s made with blood, and the consistency of it I just…


Annie: [00:57:35] My husband won’t touch it. My daughter won’t touch it.


Elyse: [00:57:40] I will not touch it.


Annie: [00:57:41] Yeah. French people eat it. It’s a very common food for French people, but “boudin noir” is not one that most Americans I know…


Elyse: [00:57:46] I will eat “boudin blanc”.


Annie: [00:57:48] Yes but “bouding blanc” is the same thing, but just with bread and a little bit of chicken.


Elyse: [00:57:53] Exactly. And so it’s very mild. And it doesn’t…


Annie: [00:57:55] Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. OK, moving on to the “lapin”. Yeah, which is rabbit.


Elyse: [00:58:02] Rabbit and of course like…


Annie: [00:58:03] It’s not unique to France.


Elyse: [00:58:05] No, in Italy… In Italy they eat a lot of rabbit, a lot. Ironically my first taste of rabbit was in a restaurant, a French restaurant in New York. Ages and ages and ages ago. And I have to confess that I actually like the taste of it. But, I only eat it if I’m served in someone’s house. I will not cook it. I will not order it in a restaurant but I have had the occasion of being invited to someone’s house for dinner…


Annie: [00:58:35] And they make it.


Elyse: [00:58:35] And they make it. And I do actually enjoy the taste. Which I know people say it and it is true is kind of like chicken.


Annie: [00:58:44] Kind of like it. It’s just drier.


Elyse: [00:58:45] It’s a little drier it’s usually served in either a mustard sauce or something like that.


Annie: [00:58:49] Or a cream sauce.


Elyse: [00:58:50] But, I won’t I won’t make it.


Annie: [00:58:53] Yeah I mean it’s disturbing to see at the store because it looks like a rabbit. It’s like it’s a skinned rabbit.


Elyse: [00:59:00] And of course they’re bred to be, you know, cooked just like a chicken. But it is common for people to eat.


Annie: [00:59:06] I made it once. Soon after we moved to France I don’t know what got into me. I made it once. And my daughter who always had vegetarian tendencies, from a very young age.


Elyse: [00:59:19] You told her what it was.


Annie: [00:59:20] I told her what it was.


Elyse: [00:59:21] And she didn’t disown you?


Annie: [00:59:23] She was really really mad at me for it, and I never made it again.


Elyse: [00:59:27] Yeah well it is true that again it’s a question of what you’re used to. I know it’s often on the menu in Italy.


Annie: [00:59:35] And France too.


Elyse: [00:59:36] And people don’t think anything of eating it here. Really.


Annie: [00:59:39] No it’s a normal food.


Elyse: [00:59:40] It’s a normal food.


Annie: [00:59:42] Yeah. “Cuisses de grenouilles”, so that’s frogs legs. Yes frogs legs.


Elyse: [00:59:45] That’s why people are called froggy.


Annie: [00:59:47] Yes. We don’t eat them that much. You you will find them on some restaurant menus.


Elyse: [00:59:54] Some but I seems like less or fewer than before.


Annie: [00:59:58] Yeah. It’s more of an Asian thing. I think now. It’s more of an Asian restaurant. At the Grands Buffets in Narbonne I tried one OK and decided again that no I don’t eat. That’s OK. I mean it wasn’t bad but like no.


Elyse: [01:00:15] Well, I’ve heard terrible things about what happens to the frogs before you do it and I won’t even tell you. But between that and what it is, I just have tasted it twice and that is the that’s it.


Annie: [01:00:30] Yeah yeah. So one more that’s very disturbing is “cervelle de veau en persillade”.


Elyse: [01:00:38] Yeah it’s a little bit like the in the same category as the “ris de veau” and the tripes. For me it’s stuff that just looking at it, I don’t want to…


Annie: [01:00:47] Untouchable. It’s it’s it’s…


Elyse: [01:00:50] It’s calves brains.


Annie: [01:00:51] Yes calf’s brains.


Elyse: [01:00:52] Yes, it’s a delicacy.


Annie: [01:00:53] And there’s places where they will serve you sheep brain too.


Elyse: [01:00:58] Oh…


Annie: [01:00:58] It’s awful.


Elyse: [01:00:59] And there are people who think these are the ultimate in delicacies.


Annie: [01:01:02] I remember my mother making some one time when I was growing up, and we all refused to eat it, and she was like all right I guess I won’t buy that again. But no. Because you can tell it’s a brain.


Elyse: [01:01:15] Yes you can.


Annie: [01:01:16] Yes. So no. Certainly can. Yes.


Elyse: [01:01:18] And yet it is among those things that are called high end delicacies.


Annie: [01:01:24] “Rognons”, “des rognons”.


a plate of rognons served in a restaurant
Rognons, photo Annie Sargent


Elyse: [01:01:24] Yes “rognons”, kidneys. I’ve eaten them, I’ve eaten… It’s a sheep actually cut into pieces put on skewers cooked in a fire and I’ve had. Believe it or not in London steak and kidney pie. Yeah. It’s not bad.


Annie: [01:01:46] Yeah, in steak in kidney pie is not too bad.


Elyse: [01:01:48] It’s not too bad.


Annie: [01:01:49] Because they don’t put much of it.


Elyse: [01:01:50] You know, and honestly, again I guess why one and not the other? I don’t know. It’s the consistency. It’s not quite the same as certain of these other things. It’s also the taste can be strong but not necessarily . It’s more muscly like meat as opposed to some of these other things. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it.


Annie: [01:02:13] But I did see it on the menu, it’s kidney.


Annie: [01:02:17] And if you’re curious, you should try it. Just said there’s this restaurant in Paris in the Marais. Oh, what is it called? It’s two first names it’s Paul et Marie or… I’ll find it and put it in the show notes, well that’s their specialty. And when I went with family my my my cousin in law I guess, was super happy to find it on the menu and she ordered it and I had to taste it and it’s good!


Elyse: [01:02:47] It’s often used. They use a little wine in the cooking. It’s not skewered if it’s not like a brochette kind of thing. Yeah. And the brochette is when it’s very fresh. Yeah I know that. But yeah, I mean, it’s kind of like liver. It’s there’s this degree of how horrible it is somehow, you know, the things you eat and then you go OK I ate that whatever I’m done.


Annie: [01:03:09] But have you ever tried “rognons blancs”?


Elyse: [01:03:11] No no I didn’t you. I didn’t know what it is. And I don’t think I will.


Annie: [01:03:15] Yes. So these are actually testicles. Yes, it could be bull, ram, sheep. Sometimes they’re called “animelles”.


Elyse: [01:03:26] Oh, really.


Annie: [01:03:26] “Animelles”. Yes. So, they tell you that it’s white kidneys, it’s not kidneys!


Elyse: [01:03:34] Have you had it?


Annie: [01:03:35] I had it once, my whole life.


Elyse: [01:03:37] I know I don’t live in the regions where they do something that I hate which is bullfighting. They do serve it in Basque country, they serve it on the menu.


Elyse: [01:03:47] Yes yes yes. No it’s not very it’s not something I mean. Yeah. No I don’t eat that.


Elyse: [01:03:53] But it’s it is served. Yes it is served in the Basque country and I think in Catalonia also. OK. Yeah. Well.


Annie: [01:04:00] And then of course we have “cheval”…


Elyse: [01:04:03] And a lot of people eat it.


Annie: [01:04:04] Which a lot of proceed and that’s horse.


Elyse: [01:04:06] Now that is strange because it’s I don’t know how I know it. Do you have any idea for instance if in France people have eaten horse for like centuries?


Annie: [01:04:16] Yes.


Elyse: [01:04:16] They have, always.


Annie: [01:04:18] OK. The the thing is it was really popular. OK technically horse meat is actually better for you than beef because it’s …. It’s leaner. OK. Also again because of the mad cow disease thing that went on for 20 years and people ate more horse because it was this was the safe meat. I grew up eating it often.


Elyse: [01:04:46] Oh you did.


Annie: [01:04:46] Yes. Because it was something my mother liked to fix. I haven’t had it in since I was at my mother’s house. OK I won’t eat that. But yeah.


Elyse: [01:04:57] I’ve never tasted it. I was once years ago in a restaurant where I ordered what I thought was a piece of steak and french fries and then I was told by someone at the table that it was a piece of horse meat and so I spit out what I had my mouth and didn’t eat the rest of it. I will not eat horse, but that’s for purely sentimental, obvious reasons.


Annie: [01:05:20] Yeah just like I won’t eat dog either.


Elyse: [01:05:23] Right, exactly. But it is true that a lot of people eat it. And I know that still to this day there are fewer and fewer “chevaline” butchers of horse meat.


Annie: [01:05:35] There’s one in the next village over, but he doesn’t do is just do that. He does “charcuterie” and “boucherie chevaline”.


Elyse: [01:05:43] And it seems to me if I’m not incorrect that you see a lot of older people who probably don’t have a lot of money because horse meat is a little bit cheaper.


Annie: [01:05:53] It’s a little bit cheaper. Yes. Yes. Yeah. Anyway yeah not a favorite in France. Not something French people eat as much as they did, but they ate it quite a bit in the past. We’ve eaten a lot of horse.


Annie: [01:06:09] “Salade de museau”.


Elyse: [01:06:09] Now what is the difference between that and tête de veau?


Annie: [01:06:13] OK. It’s OK. So it’s beef. “Salade de museau” and… What is it called? “Pâté de tête” are somewhat similar. Right. So, “salade de museau” is something where they take the pig’s head, they wrap it up, they boil it they remove all the bone, and everything that’s left, they chop it up and put it in a jelly. OK. And then that’s cut up and seasoned. It’s extremely fatty. It’s got a lot of jelly to it. It’s delicious. And it’s served with a lot of sliced pickles, “cornichons”. And it’s a vinegary kind of flavor to it. It’s served cold.


Elyse: [01:06:53] So it’s a little bit like the “tête de veau Ravigotte”, non? No, “vinaigrette”!


Annie: [01:06:57] Yeah “vinaigrette”. Yes, it’s kinda like that.


Elyse: [01:06:59] Except one’s pork and one’s calf.


Annie: [01:07:01] Exactly exactly. And it’s very good. It’s very fatty. It will give you a heart attack for sure, like most of these things but…


Elyse: [01:07:10] Then I’ll pass.


Annie: [01:07:13] But you know, “fromage de tête” is something that you will find in a lot of restaurants as an appetizer.


Elyse: [01:07:19] Why is it called “fromage de tête”?


Annie: [01:07:21] I don’t know. It’s not “fromage” at all. “Fromage” means cheese, right? Yeah there’s no cheese in it. It’s all meat products.


Elyse: [01:07:29] So yeah.


Annie: [01:07:33] We also eat in France, we also eat “la perdrix”. That’s a partridge.


Elyse: [01:07:38] Which is a game. I mean it’s not really raised, right?


Annie: [01:07:42] No no. This is hunters that do this.


Elyse: [01:07:43] It’s hunters. I guess in the States people who hunt eat Partridge too. OK. Yeah I mean you have to hunt for it. Yeah. To kill the bird.


Annie: [01:07:51] Yeah la “pintade” is Guinea fowl.


Elyse: [01:07:54] That I love.


Annie: [01:07:55] Oh I have not had that.


Elyse: [01:07:56] You’ve never had “pintade”?


Annie: [01:07:57] I probably had it in my life, but I don’t make it.


Elyse: [01:07:59] I think it’s even more delicious than chicken. It’s got a more subtle taste. I’ve never had one that’s wild. It wasn’t “gibier” so it was… It was raised but I go to a good high end farm that that raises all kinds of poultry. I love it and I love “pintade”. I think it’s delicious.


Annie: [01:08:23] But it’s a smallish, it’s smaller than a chicken.


Elyse: [01:08:25] It’s like a small chicken and it’s leaner than chicken so it’s kind of halfway between like chicken and a good turkey thing. But I love the taste of it.


Annie: [01:08:36] Yeah yeah not one that I have eaten in a long time. French people also eat pigeon, “pigeon”, which you call squab.


Elyse: [01:08:43] And I don’t think I’ve ever… I’ve had “perdrix” served to me in somebody’s house. I don’t like it because it’s tiny little things. Yeah but pigeons…


Annie: [01:08:58] But “les cailles, les cailles”.


Elyse: [01:08:59] “Cailles”, yeah.


Annie: [01:09:00] “Caille” is like Quale.


Elyse: [01:09:02] Exactly.


Annie: [01:09:02] And people will eat that.


Elyse: [01:09:03] They will eat. But I don’t think I’ve ever had pigeon.


Annie: [01:09:06] I don’t think I’ve had pigeon either. And the other thing that people sometimes serve you and I’m remembering a meal in particular that was awful. The served “du cerfeuil”.


Elyse: [01:09:19] Ah, deer, venisson? [Addendum: it’s chervil].


Annie: [01:09:23] Yes venison venison.


Elyse: [01:09:25] Yeah. Well I can’t eat that. Well those are game meats, those are strong.


Annie: [01:09:31] And they were so excited to have us over for this special thing.


Elyse: [01:09:36] Well, some people think… It’s like wild bore. Game meat is stronger tasting.


Annie: [01:09:43] That invite scarred me on two levels. Because these are people that I really had nothing in common with. They know my husband. That’s why they invited us. And it was really hard to make conversation with them. And then they serve this meat that smelled bad to me and I just didn’t want to eat it. I wanted to get out of there. But in France when you’re invited you don’t leave. For hours! So I’m scarred from that.


Elyse: [01:10:12] You have to push it around the plate.


Annie: [01:10:14] Let’s talk about strange stinky French cheeses.


Elyse: [01:10:19] OK. This is one where I back off. OK. From the beginning, you’re not going to get me close to any of these. I’ve had, I have… But we’ll do them. I want to tell my story about “époisses”, OK.


epoisse cheese served on a platter with bread, cherry tomatoes, sliced kiwi and an apricot


Annie: [01:10:29] OK. But first I have to tell you that in France it’s so common for people to eat stinky cheeses, that we can actually buy at the supermarket, you could buy a special container that has a thing that you can slide open and it has a filter.


Elyse: [01:10:44] Right.


Annie: [01:10:45] So your cheese breathes, I guess, but it doesn’t invade the rest of the rest of the fridge. And it works, it really works. But some of these cheeses are just… My husband eats more of these crazy cheeses than I do. I am not adventurous.


Elyse: [01:11:03] You’re not adventurous. Well it is a fact that…


Annie: [01:11:07] Tell us about “époisses” then!


Elyse: [01:11:08] Well that’s just what I was just going to say that since my husband is also a total cheese fanatic, that the common comment you hear is that it doesn’t taste as strong as it smells.


Annie: [01:11:21] Which happens.


Elyse: [01:11:22] But whatever, I still have that smell. How do you get through the smell? You have to part it like the parting of the seas before you get to put it in your mouth anyway. OK. My “époisses” story, why I’ve never forgotten this cheese. A number of years ago I was actually living in the northeast of France and with some friends went to Dijon for a weekend.


Elyse: [01:11:43] And Dijon I guess we could say the northern part of the burgundy area. And it’s the country where “époisses” comes from. It is that region that this cheese that’s a soft cheese comes from. And so we went to this restaurant that had been recommended and we got this whatever it was very nice. The main dish and it was a fancy place so we didn’t do a prefix we got you know just the main dish and then the the the guy named Francois who is the husband of this couple that we were with. He said You guys are going to get dessert but I want to get this cheese. That’s a specialty of this region. So you can taste it.


Elyse: [01:12:19] And I’m not… And I said Well you know this is my year as a Fulbright and I went Wow. Nice. OK. There’s going to be cool. And then he said to us. But I warn you, he said, when they bring cheese to the table, you’re going to find that it has a rather strange odor. So whatever. I ordered dessert. The other two people ordered dessert and François ordered this “époisse”.


Elyse: [01:12:44] And they brought the food to the table and they serve him this thing. I don’t you know, it comes round and it’s like surrounded by little pieces of balsa wood. It’s a creamy cheese so it has to be built up and help. And so they put this on the table. And I wasn’t thinking about what he had said. So all of a sudden I leaned over and I say to the guy, who’s my boyfriend at the time, said “did you get something on your shoes?”.


Elyse: [01:13:10] You know, when we walked into the restaurant is there something somebody around here that must have stepped in something.


Annie: [01:13:16] Indiscretion going on here?


Elyse: [01:13:17] And and he says to me no. And then I leaned across to the woman and I said what’s going on and she looks at her husband and he says to us: that my dear is “époisses”!


Annie: [01:13:32] And there you go.


Elyse: [01:13:33] And I have never forgotten the name of the cheese. And you can not get it in my mouth.


Annie: [01:13:38] Oh, no no no no no. And all of these really stinky cheeses they’re usually soft cheeses. They are rubbed in brine and they are like left to rot. In that brine!


Elyse: [01:13:51] Honestly when you think that brie and camembert can be both very soft and creamy but that don’t have too strong the smell. Most of the time. I’m not sure what these cheeses have that makes them so smelly.


Annie: [01:14:05] I think it’s the brine. I think it’s brine. And the fact that they’re left to to the age is a nice word for it. There’s another one that’s even stinkier I think, and that is Maroilles.


Annie: [01:14:19] So, I bought it by accident once because I was inviting a big table full of people for Thanksgiving. And it was the French Thanksgiving. I often have to friend two Thanksgivings at my house: the American one and the French one. This was the one for the French people. And so I wanted to do a nice big lay out of cheeses, because you know you will love that.


Annie: [01:14:39] And there is this pretty small cheese with a pretty color and I bought it and it was all wrapped. I couldn’t tell that stinky when I got it out. Usually in France you get your cheese out to get to room temperature, like right before the guests arrive. I really thought one of the dogs had taken a dump in the kitchen or somewhere. It was just foul!


Annie: [01:15:10] So I quickly put this thing in the garage where I couldn’t smell it. And I covered it up and I put it in the garage. And when the guests arrived and I put the thing on the table, one of the elderly relatives who has since passed, was so happy to have this cheese. She hadn’t had it for ever. It’s a cheese from the north of France, from Lille, from that area. And it just reeks to high heaven. It’s awful.


Annie: [01:15:40] And there is an even worse version of that. That one is called “Vieux Lille”. So this is the Maroilles, but it’s the aged Maroilles!


Elyse: [01:15:47] And these are the cow cheeses, right?


Annie: [01:15:49] I think so, not sure.


Elyse: [01:15:50] I’m pretty sure they are even “époisses” is cow, I think.


Annie: [01:15:53] And it is just foul. I’ve never had the “vieux Lille”. It was bad enough having the Maroilles.


Elyse: [01:15:59] But now the people who eat it, they really it seems as if the smell doesn’t bother them because they really wait to get that taste in their mouth.


Annie: [01:16:07] Right. It’s the flavour. And they do say that it’s it smells worse than it tastes. And I sure hope so, otherwise you taste really bad.


Annie: [01:16:16] Another one is called Langres.


Elyse: [01:16:18] I don’t know that one.


Annie: [01:16:20] It’s from the Champagne region. It’s also a soft cheese with the orangy rind. It usually caves in a little bit at the top and they put a little bit of champagne in the hole. And they serve that in the Champagne region. They say to serve it with a pink champagne, is the best way to do this. I haven’t had it either. That one I haven’t had but it’s supposed to be smoky and really really strong.


Annie: [01:16:46] Camembert. Camembert can be very mild if you just get it out of the fridge and serve it right. But if you do like my mother and you leave it out all the time, it is awful.


Elyse: [01:16:57] Well you know what. Okay so I live with someone who loves camembert. I don’t like it, I don’t eat it. But if you get raw milk Camembert, it will always be stronger. And they do say that if you really want to get the full taste of a camembert you should take it out at least an hour before you eat it.


Annie: [01:17:17] Oh my mother never put it in the fridge!


Elyse: [01:17:18] And it has a very ammoniac smell because of the crust on it. So if he wants to annoy me when cheese has gotten very ripe, he says have a smell! You can smell it from the other side of the table. But some people love it. Camembet is like one of the cheeses you know.


Annie: [01:17:36] French people love it. Brie is another one that we like.


Elyse: [01:17:40] It’s not as bad.


Annie: [01:17:41] It’s not as bad but brie from raw milk, so the Brie de Meaux…


Elyse: [01:17:45] Yep it’s delicious.


Elyse: [01:17:46] It’s delicious but it doesn’t have a strong smell but it has a really strong flavour and it will actually rip the skin off of my the roof of my mouth.


Elyse: [01:17:56] So you get “aphtes” from it?


Annie: [01:17:57] Yes. I cannot eat that stuff it is just too strong. But that one doesn’t smell so much. That one is the flavour. And it’s the “brie de Meaux”.


Elyse: [01:18:05] It’s the “brie de Meaux” which is one of these, because I don’t eat very many of these soft cheeses at all. I do like the brie.


Annie: [01:18:14] If you get a regular pasteurized brie by Président or something like that.


Elyse: [01:18:18] Some of them don’t have any taste.


Annie: [01:18:19] I love those because they’re creamy.


Elyse: [01:18:20] But they don’t have any taste.


Annie: [01:18:22] I like that!


Elyse: [01:18:22] I was in Meaux with a group of people years ago and we watched them as they were making it. I mean is fabulous and it really does make a difference. Obviously, there’s a difference too between cheese that’s as they would say “fait” or not. You know if as it ripens it gets stronger tasting so you have to get cheese like that before it gets to ripe.


Annie: [01:18:43] Yeah yeah yeah. Have you tried “Pont l’Évèque”?


Elyse: [01:18:45] A little bit.


[01:18:46] It’s a strong cheese it’s a little harder cheese, it’s in between you know it’s not a super hard cheese. But it’s like it’s a little strong harder stronger than the other ones. It is strong, it smells, it taste good though.


Elyse: [01:18:59] It’s not as bad as the camembert and the brie.


Annie: [01:19:00] Yeah I’m going I’m going down in the offensive smell here.


Elyse: [01:19:05] Munster, the next one. That smells!


Annie: [01:19:07] Yeah Munster does smell quite a bit, yes.


Elyse: [01:19:09] Really!


Annie: [01:19:11] Especially the ones from Alsace. Yeah, le Munster d’Alsace, is always pretty strong and it smells. It taste good though.


Elyse: [01:19:18] Yeah, that’s what people say.


Annie: [01:19:19] Yeah. You haven’t tried it?


Elyse: [01:19:21] I’ve tasted it. Yeah, that’s OK.


Annie: [01:19:23] Not your thing?


Elyse: [01:19:24] No.


Annie: [01:19:25] No, it’s not one where I would just help myself again. No, I wouldn’t. Morbier.


Elyse: [01:19:30] Now, I like Morbier!


Annie: [01:19:32] Morbier I like very much too. It has a bit of a scent that specific to it.


Elyse: [01:19:36] That’s the grass smell I think, you know.


Annie: [01:19:39] Could be.


Elyse: [01:19:39] It’s an Auvergne cheese. Now the specialty, the thing about Morbier is that it has volcanic ash in the middle of it, because it comes from that region.


Annie: [01:19:47] And is good!


Elyse: [01:19:47] And it’s very good. It’s not too strong.


Annie: [01:19:49] And from the Auvergne as well, you have the Roquefort cheese, and over in the Auvergne, they have a lot of small producers. And some of these are so small and so specialized that they make cheese, I don’t think anybody… I don’t understand how anybody can eat that.


Elyse: [01:20:05] Well it is true that Roquefort is extremely salty.


Annie: [01:20:08] Very very salty, very strong, and if you get the Roquefort Société.


Elyse: [01:20:12] Or Papillon.


Annie: [01:20:12] Or Papillon, those are like the mass produced ones. And they are milder and, I mean ,they’re still very salty.


Elyse: [01:20:22] Still salty. But not nearly as salty as some of the others.


Annie: [01:20:25] But some of these specialties… So if you go to a cheese shop and they talk you into some Roquefort that’s made from a small producer somewhere in the mountains blah blah blah…


Elyse: [01:20:36] You can always taste them.


Annie: [01:20:38] Yeah you can ask.


Elyse: [01:20:39] And the fact is you know unfortunately because I have to avoid salt a lot these days. I’ve given up on blue cheeses in general because they tend be…


Annie: [01:20:46] They are saltier. Yes, they are the saltiest.


Elyse: [01:20:48] But a little bit of Roquefort in a salad is delicious.


Annie: [01:20:51] Yeah yeah a little bit is good. OK and then the last two you wanted to do is: Aligot et Tartiflette. Tell us about those.


man demonstrating the stringy nature of aligot with two young girls and a woman observing him
Photo Annie Sargent


Elyse: [01:21:00] Aligot is a dish that comes from the same region actually as the Tripou, which is Auverge, which is the Massif Central, the central part of France. Kind of closer to us in the south. And unlike some of these other weird things it’s a strange mixture that is really delicious. Because it is a mixture of a kind of Cantal cheese that is made specifically for this. Mixed in with mashed potatoes and lots of garlic and olive oil and it’s stirred together so that it looks like a taffy.


Elyse: [01:21:36] It’s really all melted together, and it served as a winter dish and it is so yummy. It is so caloric is unbelievable and it’s the thing to eat. If you go to that region of France.


Annie: [01:21:49] Yes, and if you go to Christmas markets or places like that, they will serve it everywhere.


Elyse: [01:21:54] And I stand here that has it at the Christmas time and everybody winds up going and having their little dish of it for lunch. You know you walk around eating it and it’s it is yummy.


Annie: [01:22:04] It’s very good.


Elyse: [01:22:04] Very very. And the other one, which is more from the Alps is the Tartiflette, which is another version of a dish that’s made with melted cheese. And it’s basicly potatoes and a special kind of cheese. I was going to say it’s the same cheeses as for fondue, but it isn’t it’s kind of like a raclette. And you you have a special dish that is like a chafing dish. And you heat the cheese so it’s kind of like a cheese fondue. But it’s more just directly heated. You melt the trees and then you put it on pieces of potato or a piece of “charcuterie” and it’s very nice. Except that since I don’t eat melted cheese for other reasons I don’t get it right… But it’s actually quite good.


Annie: [01:22:46] Actually it’s one that you will find at Christmas markets all over France.


Elyse: [01:22:51] And people now, if someone gets married or somebody moves to a new house you find that a lot of times they are offered up a Tartiflette dish. Like a raclette dish so that you can make these things for your company at home.


Annie: [01:23:05] They are very good when you have company and you want the meal to be a slow kind of meal. Because it takes a while, everybody has to prepare their own thing.


Elyse: [01:23:11] And it’s kind of informal so it’s fun, you know. These are… I love the aligot. These are dishes that if you have to watch your calorie intake you have to…


Annie: [01:23:21] Don’t eat that!


Elyse: [01:23:21] But otherwise… they are good.


Annie: [01:23:24] Yeah. Yeah. And you you mentioned earlier you mentioned the Tripou. Which, I didn’t, we skipped over, but it’s like Tripes.


Elyse: [01:23:33] Like tripes except that the recipe is a recipe that is from the same area as the Aligot. So the ingredients… It tends to be more… It’s cooked in a broth. So it’s not like, I’m trying to find what is. What did it say with the leap from Normandy.


Annie: [01:23:53] Well it depends on… It can be…


Elyse: [01:23:55] I don’t remember how…


Annie: [01:23:56] Sheep or cattle.


Elyse: [01:23:57] But in Auvergne it’s cow, calf, and it’s but it’s cooked in a broth. So it’s not in a rich cream sauce. But the problem is…


Annie: [01:24:13] Still tripe.


Elyse: [01:24:14] It’s still tripes, that’s the problem. It’s people say it’s really tasty and you see their little piece of carrot and onion and stuff like that and the sauce, but…


Annie: [01:24:23] It makes it healthy, right?


Elyse: [01:24:24] And makes it healthier, it makes it healthier. But but you know if I had to choose between that and the Aligot, I’d go for the Aligot!


Annie: [01:24:30] Oh absolutely absolutely. And then in France we also have normal foods with really strange names. Yeah like “Tête de Nègre”.


Elyse: [01:24:39] Yeah what is that?


Annie: [01:24:40] It’s a pastry. It’s a black pastry.


Elyse: [01:24:43] Chocolate?


Annie: [01:24:44] Yeah it’s chocolate.


Elyse: [01:24:46] OK. Well and you know no not exactly politically correct.


Annie: [01:24:49] It’s not politically correct. “Pêt de Nonne” is a beignet type of thing.


Elyse: [01:24:54] And what are the “pêts” Annie?


Annie: [01:24:54] It’s a doughnut. It’s a fart.


Elyse: [01:24:57] It’s a beignet, eh? It’s a nun’s fart. There you are. And it’s a kind of doughnut.


Annie: [01:25:03] Yes, it is a doughnut, irregular shaped.


Elyse: [01:25:07] Irregular shape.


Annie: [01:25:08] And then we have jams called like “Gratte-Cul”.


Elyse: [01:25:11] I never heard of that. What is that?


Annie: [01:25:15] I don’t know it’s like a jam, I don’t know, it’s something, weird fruit probably. I’ve seen it, I’ve bought it for people cause it was funny but I have, I’ve never… Not one that I consume regularly at my house. And then you have the Trou-du-cru cheese.


Elyse: [01:25:32] Wow!


Annie: [01:25:33] That’s from Burgundy don’t say that fast too many times! Or it’ll sound really bad.


Elyse: [01:25:39] And it is a cheese?


Annie: [01:25:41] It is a cheese. So we have a lot of names like that, and I think in touristy areas, they do this on purpose. They will do a jam with a funny name.


Elyse: [01:25:51] But do people know what it says?


Annie: [01:25:53] It doesn’t matter, it’s funny, so they buy it as a gift you see. And I’ve done that myself. You know you find a jam with a funny name and a funny picture and you’re like Ha ha get one of my sister she’ll laugh, you know. And then she’ll eat it. And it’s probably, the jam is probably completely unremarkable. It doesn’t matter what it is!


Annie: [01:26:10] Exactly. It’s just a funny name so all right we’re down to the end of our list Elyse, we have been talking a long time. But before we end, we have to commiserate on our teeth.


Elyse: [01:26:22] We are commiserating with each other.


Annie: [01:26:25] So one of the reasons why I went back to being vegetarian is because a few weeks ago I was in Spain and I was driving back and when I go to Spain, since my own apartment,. I have to kind of clean it all up before I leave.


Elyse: [01:26:39] Right.


Annie: [01:26:39] And so by the time I leave it’s usually 2:00 p.m. or something. It’s late. And I was really really hungry and I had emptied out the apartment, there was nothing to eat, so I’m really really hungry. And I’m driving home to France.


Elyse: [01:26:53] And it’s how many hours?


Annie: [01:26:55] It’s five hours to drive home. And I had an appointment that night that I didn’t want to miss. And so I’m rushing. And so I stop at the Burger King…


Elyse: [01:27:06] That’ll teach you to go by Burger King!


Annie: [01:27:07] I will never do that again.


Elyse: [01:27:09] You should sue them actually.


Annie: [01:27:10] And I bought a whopper, just plain old Whopper. And I’m driving my car and biting into this hartily, because I’m so hungry, and there was a freaking piece of bone in there.


Elyse: [01:27:23] I’m telling you, you should sue them!


Annie: [01:27:24] And it broke my tooth, and it was a clean break. It wasn’t even a tooth that had been, was fragile for any other reason. It was a perfectly healthy tooth.


Elyse: [01:27:38] This is why they should not let them get away with it, but you don’t have the proof any more.


Annie: [01:27:42] It’s too late and I was so distraught because I could tell it hurt. And so I’ve had to have my first root canal ever which was traumatic enough!


Elyse: [01:27:51] And ladies and gentlemen out there, you should know that she is so lucky and doesn’t realise it that this is her first root canal. I have had so many that it’s like eating popcorn!


Annie: [01:28:02] And it was really I was worried about it for a whole month.


Elyse: [01:28:06] She was and then she comes back, and we’re on the phone, and we see each other, and she tells me she broke her tooth, and going poor Annie. And I go home and one night later I’m eating some horrible overcooked very hard grains of rice, that’s my own fault, and I crunched down on them and guess what happens to me? I break a tooth also! And so all last week we kept getting messages back and forth to each other about our Bobos and our mouths, and how much it hurt, and how it was going to end.


Annie: [01:28:39] How’s your tooth?


Elyse: [01:28:39] How’s your tooth? It has nothing to do with the food we’ve been talking about. We just had this happen at the same time.


Annie: [01:28:44] No no, but some these foods are deboned too, so yeah careful.


Elyse: [01:28:50] You have to be careful. Yeah. And hopefully these things will not happen to you. Right.


Annie: [01:28:56] And so people who subscribe to the mailing list, I will send you a list of all of those so you can take it with you when you go to Paris and know what you’re getting into, and avoid those things.


Elyse: [01:29:06] And for some of you who are absolutely the most courageous people on the face of this earth. Hey, you can always try something once!


Annie: [01:29:13] That’s right try them! There’s people who go eating spiders in the Amazon.


Elyse: [01:29:19] It’s so funny you said that because I was just two weekends ago they had a organic food and natural products thing special. What you call a it, a salon “une foire” in Toulouse.


Annie: [01:29:31] A convention.


Elyse: [01:29:31] A convention kind of thing, you know where everybody has a stand and… And so I went, because I was kind of curious to see what they would have, and I was kind of disappointed it was pretty much more of the same, except for a couple of places where I got a couple of herbal teas. And sure enough there was a stand that was selling insects! Roasted and fried and turned into a kind of pâté. And I didn’t try it.


Annie: [01:29:56] You didn’t try it?


Elyse: [01:29:57] No, you know, if the pâté had been opened and it was something you could spread on a piece of bread. I guess I would have. But there was one that was just like this big bowl where you could pick up like you pick up a couple of chips it was like these little fried things.


Annie: [01:30:11] Yes I’ve had those, and had like I’ve tasted one of those.


Elyse: [01:30:14] And I just couldn’t, I just couldn’t. But I think this is going to be the future for protein. Unfortunately.


Annie: [01:30:20] It could be.


Elyse: [01:30:21] I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.


Annie: [01:30:23] But we’ve just taken a good look at the past of food. I mean, of meat and protein and some of it is a little bit scary. I don’t know if eating tripe is any scarier than eating insects!


Elyse: [01:30:35] I’m sure isn’t! It’s just what you used to!


Annie: [01:30:37] Yes, is just what you’re used to.


Elyse: [01:30:38] It’s just what you used to out there guy!


Annie: [01:30:40] So when in France, don’t necessarily rely on the waiter’s poor translation skills, you just have your list of things that you either want to try or do not want to try, that way and just you know and you don’t have to worry about. I’m going to be shocked or not?


Elyse: [01:31:00] No. And you can always say no!


Annie: [01:31:02] And have a wonderful time next time you come to France!


Elyse: [01:31:05] And enjoy eating!


Annie: [01:31:07] All right. Au revoir!


Elyse: [01:31:08] Au revoir!


Annie: [01:31:10] Thank you Ashley Kanneer Lewis, Sergio Famiglietti, George Graves, Heidi DeMars and Joel Keiller for pledging to support the show on Patreon this week.


Annie: [01:31:24] I asked on the Facebook group who was going to be the hundredth patron. And it was Sergio! My thanks to all of you patrons whether you’re number 100 or not you support the show month after month, thank you so much for giving back! And to support the show on Patreon, go to PATREON and join us without any spaces or dashes, and you guys are wonderful thank you!


Annie: [01:31:55] And thank you also Don Davis and Lynn Gee for your one time donation. To see all the ways you can support the show, direct and indirect, and we do need your support visit


Annie: [01:32:13] Well the personal update this week is going to be super short. It’s the weather has been glorious. As a matter of fact I put off recording this. This introduction because I’ve been outside all day. I don’t know about you, but as soon as the weather gets nice I just want to be outside. I might have been behind this computer too long! So this is this is turning out to be a really good week to be in France. If you are here other than the train strike, things are looking really good weather wise in France.


Annie: [01:32:51] And speaking of the train strike it’s bound to continue some more because the French assembly just did something that’s going to really enjoy the “cheminots”, so the people who work for the train company. They adopted the text to reform the SNCF after with no amendments. Like you know they just read it and voted overwhelmingly in favor. And so obviously the people who work are probably going to get extra motivated to go out on strike.


Annie: [01:33:26] It’s about 30 percent of the people who work for SNCF who are on strike, who go on strike. This goes up a little bit and down a little bit by a percentage or two. But it manages, just having that few people on strike, manages to block 70 to 75 percent of the traffic. Because they need to have people to fill all the positions and sometimes they don’t. So that’s one of the big problems with this strike.


Annie: [01:33:57] But hopefully the government will come to an agreement with with the people who work there and it will be over soon. In the meantime if you are experiencing big problems with this, please come on to join us in France. Close group on Facebook and let us know if you need any help figuring out another way to get around.


Annie: [01:34:24] At Join Us in France we put France in your ears. And you found a way that works for you to listen to the show. Please help other people find the show too so they can learn what they need to know to have a great time in France.


Annie: [01:34:38] If you have friends who are going to be visiting France, tell them that they can listen with their Alexa smart speak, or with their smartphone using Spotify, or with iTunes, with Google Play, or with any number of podcast Apps. They can even listen on the website if they wish. I think you’ll make a big difference on how well prepared they are for their trip, don’t you?


Annie: [01:35:05] To connect with me, email or leave a message at 1 8 0 1 8 0 6 1 0 1 5. You can also join the Join Us and Friends closed group on Facebook. When you do, please answer the questions so I know you’re not a spammer. There are people that I’m not sure and I just say, I just decline, because it’s not clear if you don’t talk to me. Have a great weekend of trip planning and I’ll talk to you next week. Au revoir!


Annie: [01:35:37] The Join us in France travel podcast is written and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2018 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives license.


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Categories: French Customs & Lifestyle, French Food & Wine