The Whole Beast
Among my non-edible birthday gifts was Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. I have only begun perusing it but already I am full of wonder. Consider:
-Henderson has a recipe (for green sauce, which I think is more commonly called salsa verde) that calls for both flat and curly parsley. Who'da thunk?
-One recipe calls for a "gesture of salt." Others calls for dollops, knobs, splashes, and the like. Note my approval.
-The aïoli on page 162 calls for twenty cloves of garlic. "Eating it," H writes, "should be an emotional experience." The emotion I feel reading this is fear. The recipe for Rabbit and Garlic on page 118 calls for 60 to 80 cloves of garlic, but since that serves ten and the garlic gets braised it's not nearly as frightening.
-One recipe calls for "a big bundle of hay." Where on earth? (The recipe is "Ham in Hay," p. 65.)
-Jugged hare, page 123, begins with this direction: "The hare's blood is vital for this dish, so if you are not gutting the beast yourself..."
-The recipe on page 133 explains, "Soft roes are in fact herring semen." I love the "in fact" in that sentence with an intense passion. H adds, "it needs to be handled gently, otherwise it can end up as a creamy mess."
-Instructions for making mayonnaise:
After a while you will learn the various noises mayonnaise makes in the making that tell you when you have enough oil. These are hard to describe in words so I'm afraid you just have to listen to it. You want a consistency that has a body to it, but a body with give, not one that goes boing when you put a spoon in it."I think H is full of it here, but I like to imagine mayonnaise going boing.
Of course, what's most intriguing about the book is its recipes for such things as blood cake, lamb's brain, haggis, spleen, heart, and tripe. I don't know that I'm actually going to prepare any of these things, but it pleases me to know that if eight long pig's tails or a leg of kid should arrive on our doorstep I'll have someplace to look to see about turning them into dinner.