I’m transferring some older blog posts from various sites I’m abandoning to my new, hopefully, permanent blog. Here’s a particular favorite of mine from a trip to the south of France in late September ’09… Enjoy!
Oh boy did I have an appetite for destruction last night. Tired off my butt, and I mean so tired that I almost didn’t leave my hotel room (then remembered that eating one small sandwich all day long and having walked 10k+ wasn’t healthy and consequently nearly fell asleep several times over dinner) — I ordered the only thing on the menu that would send every foreign tourist running for the hills — “Pieds et Paquets.”
Pieds et paquets translates as “feet and packages.” Yes. You heard that right. Even the “packages,” part. The dish consists of sheep tripe folded into elegant little objects much resembling large tortellini stuffed with herbed breading, as well as sheep feet (bent ankle bone and all the stuff further south), slow cooked in a very lovely savory sauce which I’m told is based on white wine.
I don’t know how I did it. I really don’t. That’s not to say it wasn’t delicious. It was. I eat strange things. All the time. I think it’s exciting and makes life more interesting to take risks like this. But when you think you’re coming down with a cold and feel weak and haven’t slept in two days and are not really convinced you’re hungry in the first place, this could have been a disastrous mistake.
Thankfully it wasn’t. I don’t know if any of you dear, dear phantoms of readers have ever experienced this before, but I’m going to try to describe the sensation of what I was going through. My brain and body were in a battle from the moment the covered silver platter was set down beside me, and a deep elegant ceramic bowl was placed in front of me. See, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Didn’t know how it would look or smell or anything. I did have an inkling of what the texture would be like, having eaten tripe many times before. But not sheep. And not in this manner. And certainly not in my vulnerable physical condition. The word I would use for the entire experience would be “musky.” For some that’s great. For others it’s sickening. It was gamey and gooey and chewy. And the whole time I cut apart my first piece, the musky gamey smell wafting up into my nose, I was fighting nausea. Not a strong nausea. But a tiny persistent, “ah, you there, ya you…are you quite sure that’s such a good idea…” kinda nausea. Some people would have listened to that little voice. But not me. And in the end, as I didn’t get sick, slept very well through the night, and feel better than ever today, I’m very glad I didn’t.
Most of you will never want to eat tripe, especially not sheep tripe rolled into big meatball-sized bread-filled bundles and stewed with its relation, the foot (which by the way, is all fat and skin and cartilage with hardly a trace of muscle). Hopefully, though, I’ve now communicated that it cannot and will not kill you, and if you can get over the musky smell and uber-strange texture so common to offal, you may enjoy it, and it may in fact cure your weary body and send it on its healthy way.
Anyway, I just got to Avignon. Again exhausted, but not quite so much as in Marseille. And instead of a steep 2-story walk-up with super-heavy luggage, I had a 4-story walk-up with heavier luggage (thanks to a chance encounter with an H&M yesterday and an adventure in an immigrant-filled market this morning).
The town is gorgeous, and it’s so sunny, it really does look like an impressionist painting or a post card. I’ll have a gander as soon as I rest my weary head for a spot and consider showering off the accumulating sweat. Yes. I just said accumulating sweat.
Cheerio! Or rather, A bientot!
And if you ever want to try making your own paquets…