1/21/2006

Scottish Dinner

While I prepare my grocery list this afternoon for a restocking-the-fridge-and-pantry shopping expedition, I keep thinking of our dinner tonight. We've been invited to some English friends' house for dinner. Pat, the wife, is an aboslute wonderful cook, a woman who makes her own Christmas pudding (no small feat because it takes weeks to prepare) so you know that dinner is always homemade and very, very tasty.

Tonight they are having a ture "Scottish Meal". I don't know much about Scottish food and am very eager to sample it. I only know of one Scottish dish, Haggis. And that is what she is fixing. While I couldn't remember exactly what that consisted of, I knew it included liver and stuffed in a stomach. Of what animal, I do not know, nor am I sure I want to know.

Dictionary.com defines it as:

hag·gis ( P ) Pronunciation Key (hgs)n.
A Scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal.

Y*I*K*E*S!

OK, I should not feel squeemish, should I? Come on, I live in FRACE, you know country where they eat absolutely everything: gizzards, livers, foie gras (fattened livers), pig's snout, pig intestines (chittlings for Southern Americans), all types of fat, blood pudding, raw oysters, goat's brains... Oh sorry, I didn't mean to make you sick! I never thought that another country could out do the French in eating every part of the animal!

My point is, so what if the Scots throw in a few lungs and stomachs? Since coming to France, I have eaten all the above mentioned foods (and more!) and liked them. I feel that everything can be tried at least once. (Well, I don't think I could ever eat cockroaches, even if it were a life or death situation! Grubs would also be a toughie to swallow.) But, when in Rome, do as the Romans, n'est-ce pas?

It is true that in today's world, if we want to eat chicken breats for an entire month, we could easily do so. It is also true that today's grocery shopping is different from it was 50 or 60 years ago. Today chicken comes (dead of course!) plucked, skinned, portioned and clean all nicely wrapped in cellophane with a pretty picture of a live, sometimes smiling chicken, on the front sticker. Ditto for beef, pork, veal and the whole meat and pretty much fish and seafood families. I think that today if people had to go back to killing their own meat, there would be a lot more vegetarians out there. Perhaps it's the way we shop that has changed our outlook of what's edible and what's not.

Besides, what makes one food 'discusting' and another 'excellent'? Cultural differences. This is something I have learned over the years as an American raised in completely American ways and then coming to France and spending her adulthood in another country. What I have come to ask myself eat time I encounter a new food (and over the past 12 years in france that has been an inexhasutable thing!), 'Why is eating the muscles of an animal OK but not the organs?'

Don't Americans eat gizzards and chittlings? Well, some do. It used to be commonly eaten foods back in the days when you had to kill your own food (most likely after having raised it yourself). Waste not want not back, non? And who knew back then what they would be eating a week from now.

Since Pat is a good cook, I think it will be done right and she wouldn't fix it if it were discusting. She's not Scottish, she's English so there's no pressure to cook cultural dishes. Yet, I am hesitant to sit down at the dinnertable tonight but I will. It would have been easier to have sampled it first then asked what it was second. (That works best for me in French.)

I'll have the camera there and there will be a detailed (well, perhaps not, it just depends on the taste) entry afterwards. Besides, I've come to understand from other English people that it's the whisky gravy that makes the dish so savory! Bring on the Whisky!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Alison said...

J's sister spent some time in Scotland, and when she came back to France, she brought a prepared haggis.

It was really tasty.

Bon appétit!

7:32:00 PM  
Blogger Lulu said...

I did not have haggis when I was in Scotland. I do want to try it someday.

12:33:00 AM  

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