Monday, February 13, 2006

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great gift.
I am eagerly awaiting posts on the preparation of alarming beasts and their various frightening, (noisy?) innards.

I have wanted to read this book since I first heard of it. They haven't got it at my library yet, and somehow I suspect it is not on their "Acquire Immediately" list.
So I'm counting on you for recipe testing.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting you should mention the mayonnaise. I have an old book from 1957 titled "Bull Cook, Recipes and Practices" which gives recipes for every kind of meat and game, plus it tells how to dress the animal after it's been killed. It even shows how to dress a turtle. But back to the mayo... it gives a recipe for authentic mayonnaise, along with this caution...

"Here's the original recipe brought to Minnesota by early French immigrant cooks right from Fort Mahon. It produces a mayonnaise beyond comparison in all respects. Using this famous recipe, mayonnaise is very easy to make and you never will have a failure with one exception. If you are a woman do not attempt to make mayonnaise during menstruating time as the mayonnaise will simply not blend together at all well. This is not superstition but a well established fact well known to all good women cooks. With all the vast knowledge that we think we have we are still like lost children in a great woods. There are countless facts in everyday living that will always remain a complete mystery."

We got a pretty good kick out of that one... if anyone would like the recipe I can post it.

3:32 PM  
Blogger femme feral said...

hard to believe you used to be a veggie.

if any kids show up on your door, please know that I'd be happy to take it in as a pet. they're very playful, you know.

12:29 AM  

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