A load of tripe

Narbonne Market

The butchers in the market in Narbonne displayed together cows feet and tripe, a clear invitation towards “tripes a la mode de Caen”. Somewhat surprising considering we are in the South of France and that is a classic Normandy dish. It is cooked for about 12 hours, usually in large quantities and is a combination of tripe, ox feet, carrots, onions, leeks seasoned with herbs and quite a lot of pepper, in cider and Calvados. Traditionally in Normandy it would be cooked in a special dish, a tripiere, which is rather like a tea pot that has been squashed, with the small opening ensuring as little evaporation as possible. The tripiere would be taken to the boulangerie to be cooked in the oven after the bread. One of the most famous recipes for this is in Escoffier’s Guide to Modern Cooking, but the quantities are a bit daunting almost 2 kilos of onions 1.5 kilos of carrots 2.4 litres of cider and 0.75 litres of Calvados. Certainly after eating this you would need a trou Normand, a glass of Calvados, as a digestive. Bear in mind also that in a traditional Norman feast this would have been course 2 of 6! Thank goodness I don’t cater on such a scale at our B&B in the South of France. The fresh caught fish and interesting varieties of vegetables were what really caught my eye. At this time of year I sometimes find it difficult to be enthusiastic. The winter veg are becoming tired and limited but the spring has yet to arrive. Thinking up different variants on the excellent cabbage and leeks for supper at the B&B is fun but after a while it begins to pall. Roll on the spring and the tender young produce and then the profusion of the true tastes of the Languedoc, aubergines, courgettes, peppers and of course lots of different varieties of tomatoes. Bring on the summer at Chez Maison Bleue!

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