When I think of southwest France I think of duck. Unctuous legs of confit de canard, perhaps nestled in some cassoulet. Yum. Having only spent one night in southern France on our way down to Spain, and sampled just one very third rate cassoulet, we thought we’d missed our chance to gorge ourselves on confit de canard. How wrong we were…
Catalunyans seem to be good at slow food. There are lots of rich savoury stews, traditionally cooked in wide, shallow earthenware ‘cazuelas’ over a low flame, slowly. And people know how to take their time over a good meal together.
We knew the jamón in Spain can be fantastic, and we wanted to make sure we got to try the best. So after asking around we found ourselves in Jabugo, surrounded by miles of ‘dehesa‘ countryside and little white-washed villages on hilltops, with the sweet, sweet smell of curing jamón wafting through the air everywhere we went…
Today Barnaby went for lunch at the Nerbone food stand in the covered market in Florence. He thought he should order something typically Florentine, so he ordered what he saw lots of the market traders were having – a lampredotto sandwich.
He wasn’t actually sure what lampredotto was, but expected it would be something nice. Sounds a bit like lamb, he thought. He likes lamb. Or maybe risotto. He likes risotto too.
It’s not all tea and candy in Turkey of course, and meat is a very important part of the diet for most Turks. Of course practically no pork – which was a nice change for us after our pork ‘n’ lard fest in central and eastern Europe.
Beef and lamb are the most common red meats, with beef overtaking lamb, especially in the west, due to the increase of factory farming and hence smaller price tag. (Lower price in terms of pennies from the customer’s pocket that is, not cost to their health, the cows’ wellbeing or the environment, of course )
And there’s plenty of chicken too, but we found those dishes less interesting. So I’m not writing about them here. Instead you can find out about ‘sensitive balls’…
One of his cows had just given birth to twins, one of whom Michel was bottle-feeding twice a day himself as the mother would only feed one. (Nature can be cruel too, let’s not forget.) The twins were having some trouble using their legs, but then they were only 5 days old. All their older relatives were walking around happy as can be, probably because Michel gives care and attention to each and every one.
Barnaby could hardly control his excitement when he saw the delicious pile of boudin noir freshly made by his hosts Michel and Francine Cornet at their farmhouse in Champagne. There was three times this much from one pig! (whose name was Gui-Gui, to give him full credit)
Chorizo is pronounced ‘chorissoh’ or, in some parts of Spain, ‘chorithoh’, but never ‘choritzoh’, please.
It comes in all sorts of varieties in many countries around the world, notably Spain, Portugal and Mexico, but also India (Goa, due to Portuguese colonial presence), Argentina and the Philippines.
Spanish chorizo is usually, but not always, cured, and therefore edible as is, sliced. It’s made from coarsely chopped fatty pork and flavoured with garlic and smoked paprika. It can be hot – ‘picante’, or sweet – ‘dulce’.
Mexican chorizo, on the other hand, is a very different sausage – made from ground pork, flavoured with additional spices such as cinnamon, and importantly, requires cooking.
There are crabs in all the world’s oceans, in freshwaters and on the
land. I once met a man in Rarotonga called Piri Puruto (‘the Coconut
King’) who kept large red land crabs as pets – crawling free around the
living room. The smallest is the minuscule Pea Crab which lives inside
oysters, and the largest is the Japanese Spider Crab, with a leg span
of up to 4m.
You don’t want to be an Alaskan King Crab fisherman; 300 of every
100,000 are killed every year, the highest fatality rate of all