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I must admit that I do like certain kinds of offal. Most kinds of liver, sweatbreads… yum! But I really do not like the more visceral types of organ… tongue, brains, kidneys… no thank you. And I have eaten enough tripes in my life to know that there is no way of preparing them that will ever make me want to eat them again!
So why oh why do I like andouillettes as much as I do? Oh, these French delicacies look innocent enough, and I am certain many tourists in France have had the shock of their lives when they trieds these sausage-like objects.
Why? Well: andouillettes are basically sausages filled with intestine and herbs. As if someone took pork intestines and stuffed them with more intestines. The result is a very chewy rubbery substance, with some indiscernable chunks of mystery in it, spiced up with garlic, onion, parsley and other herbs. Add to it the distinct whiff of excrement and you now also know why this French delicacy has never really made it out of France.
I must have been 10 years old when I ordered my first andouillette in a restaurant in Touraine. I was traveling with my parents and brother and I absolutely loved French food. My parents encouraged us to try new things, and so it was without hesitation that I decided to order the dish with the prettiest name of the menu. Andouillette.
When the brown sausage arrived it looked nice and familiar enough, but cutting it open revealed the whiff of tripe I knew from ‘soto babat’, a tripe stew that was one of my Chinese grandma’s specialities. It was also not easy to cut, but I soon discovered that the taste, combined with the mustady sauce, was really quite divine! But then I also became aware of the fact that it is very, very difficuly to bite through intestines. So when I swallowed, half the bite went down, and the rest did not. I felt the rubbery tendrils dangling down my throat and it really was most unpleasant.
So, no matter where the Andouillettes come from (Troyes is famous for them but so is Vouvray and Vire and quite a few other places) and whether they are AAAAA certified or not (Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique)… I always make sure I have a very sharp knife and I cut it up into very small pieces before tucking in!