Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Andouillette: A Brief Cautionary Tale

My first few days in Paris are done. I should have lots to write about. Lots of good things. Lots of exciting things. And I do, I think. Well, to be honest, I can't be sure. My brain has been left scattered by the traumatizing memory of having to eat that anal-perfumed French delicacy known as andouillette. 

Andouillette is a traditional French sausage. It's made from the intestines and colon of a pig. The French are mad for it. They love it. They have secret orders that worship it. And you'll find it on most menus in traditional bistros. The problem is that it tastes like shit. That's not a euphemism. Literally, it tastes like shit.

When I was in Denmark I was tricked into thinking that I like it. My friend had bought one in France and cooked it for me and the Cambodian. It was delicious. It had a looser texture than most sausages but it was made from ground meat. It had a pleasing sour taste. And served with a glass of wine and cooked cabbage it made for one of the best food memories I had while in Copenhagen.

When I came to Paris I had to have it. It had been on my mind for ten months. I researched a reliable bistro where it was served and I went there. When I sat down I didn't look at the menu. I knew what I wanted. It was andouillette or nothing. I ordered it with confidence.

When the andouillette came to the table my excitement to indulge was quickly replaced by a heavy sense of dread. That was followed rapidly by a varying list of emotions that ranged from shock to remorse. The smell was intense. Imagine a small barn full of defecating animals. Then take away the sweet, grassy smell of hay. That is the aroma of andouillette.

I cut the "sausage" open despite the sternest reservations from my senses.  I put "sausage" in quotations here, because what I ended up cutting into was not so much a homogenous package of ground meat as it was a loose parcel of intestines. It felt like I was eviscerating an animal.

I have eaten many things in my life that have looked foul and proved to be delicious. Sadly, though, this was not the case with anduilette. I tried to eat that sausage for nearly 30 minutes, naively thinking that the taste would somehow improve. I was wrong. It tasted as it smelled. Possibly worse. And it never got better. In the end, I had to leave a third of it on my plate.

I left the bistro and spiraled immediately into a haze of self-loathing. On the one hand, I couldn't believe that I had been so soundly defeated by a piece of food. On the other, I couldn't believe I had forced myself to eat 200g of something that tasted like a pig pen.

I have always been a proponent of immersing myself into the food cultures of the countries in which I have lived and traveled in. But this experience has taught me that I'd rather abstain from taking part in cultural activities that taste like shit.


  1. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)gmail.com