When I was four or five years old my brother, in collusion with the ship’s cook, gave me a bowl of cod eyes to eat. Only he didn’t tell me they were cod eyes, he told me they were an Egyptian delicacy of crocodile eyes. I have no idea why I would have been more likely to eat them when I thought they came from the Nile rather than the North Sea (or even if I knew where Egypt was) but eat them I did. They were (in my memory at least) delicious; chewy and crunchy and gloopy and salty. I asked for and received second helpings.
For years (and by years I mean more than twenty) I would tell anybody who asked that my favourite food was crocodile eyes. I have a feeling it was only when I was in my mid thirties that I mentioned this episode to my mum.
“You knew they were cod eyes, didn’t you?” She asked.
“No! I thought they were real.” I didn’t tell her that I had thought they were real up until that moment.
“But where would they have got crocodile eyes in the middle of the North Sea? I thought you were just going along with it.”
This goes to show two things. Firstly I am incredibly gullible and secondly I will eat anything.
I have in recent years taken to order anything I don’t recognise on restaurant menus both to broaden my experience and to punish myself for my ignorance. Last year in Brussels I ordered Waterzooi which, rather than the seafood dish I vaguely hoped for, turned out to be a bland, boring stew of chicken carrots and cream. Debbie had a really nice steak.
Just outside Tours the week before last I spotted something on the menu called Andouillette which was described as Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique. Having no access to Wikipedia (or Things That Stink) I ordered it. Basically it is a sausage. When it arrived I was immediately reminded of a special effect in a movie where someone is stabbed in the stomach and their guts spill out. The casing had burst and from the jagged wound spilled, well, guts. Pig guts to be precise. The smell was familiar but couldn’t place it. It wasn’t until I looked it up that I realised that I was eating a sausage made of sausage casings and I had recognised the smell from the last time I made home-made sausages. I ate it and while it wasn’t awful it is safe to say that I won’t feel obliged to order it next time I spot it on the menu. Debbie had a really nice steak.
After a tour of the Loire we drove to Rocamadour. It was a five hour drive but it was worth it for lunch.
The food was lovely but even if it hadn’t been who could complain about such a view.
By the next evening we had arrived in Toulouse and waited around Place St George for Chez Emile to open, having read about it on Tripadvisor. Of course it would have been sensible to have popped in and reserved a table while we were waiting but we were lucky enough to bag the last vacant one. If you are in Toulouse you have to have cassoulet. Even if it just shy of forty degrees and your shirt is stuck to your back you must order this hearty stew!
There is a scene in the film High Fidelity where John Cusack’s character plays Dry Rain by The Beta Band. A customer asks what the music is and, when told, says “It’s good”. “I know,” Cusack replies. When the waiter asked how my meal was and I told him it was excellent he looked exactly the same as he said “Oui, je sais.”
Debbie had a really nice steak.
For two weeks we have not just been off the diet; we have been drinking every night and eating what we want. So at weigh in I was not really surprised to see I have gained nine pounds.
I am still in “credit” though and, from tonight, I am back on the diet properly. I am not sure what we are going to do with the several cases of wine we accidentally bought as we travelled round though.