Have I ever told you about the time when we were road-tripping with a friend through France and Grant decided he wanted to try andouillette? It was in a little place named Saint-Gengoux-le-National, about halfway between Marigny L’Eglise (where we’d been staying in Burgundy) and Lyon. There were a couple of lovely looking bistros in the square – the sorts of places that had wisteria hanging down the stone walls and yummy-sounding fixed-price lunch menus. As tempting as the menus were, we had dinner booked at Le Nord that night so didn’t want a full meal – just something cheap and light. Grant, however, wanted to eat in this dodgy-looking place instead because they had andouillette on the menu for 7E.
This sausage made of pig’s large intestines is often referred to euphemistically as a tripe sausage – and my husband has been wanting to try it ever since he got talked out of one in a Paris bistro back in 1995. What can I say? He has a long memory. Of course, I tried to talk him out of it this time too. I told him that Gary Mehigan (chef and ex-judge of Australian Masterchef) said in a podcast that the first time he tried one it was like he was eating a biology lesson. I told him that the food writer Terry Durack said you needed to be able to get past “the aggressive aroma of stale urine mixed with sweet spices and pork fat” in order to enjoy it. As an aside, Durack apparently does enjoy it – as do (inexplicably) so many others. There is, believe it or not, an Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique (AAAAA) that was formed in order to protect standards and to honour those establishments serving the true, original andouillette. True story. After Fiona and I repeated all the reasons why he’d be an idiot to eat something that sounded so gross, Grant reminded us that he enjoys blood sausage (black pudding), tripe, and haggis and that this could not be much different from that. Besides, he said, at 7E if it was really awful he wouldn’t have ruined a nice dinner. Then he reminded us that he’s a Scotsman – although what that had to do with anything I didn’t know. The andouillette turned up on a disposable plate (as had our croque monsieur) with a handful of chips and an approximation of a salad. When he cut into it the smell permeated everything and all the bits that were previously inside the sausage were suddenly not – and that is the nicest way I can explain it. Gary Mehigan was right when he described it as a biology lesson.
Bravely he took a bite and wordlessly Fiona and I each handed across half of our croque monsieur and ordered him a beer – which also came in a disposable cup. Even the chips tasted of the smell of the sausage. He said that neither the beer nor the croque monsieur was able to get rid of the taste – it really was that gross. As disgusting as it was, it was one of those food moments on a trip that we still talk about and reading Bistro Cooking, our current cookbook club choice, took me back to that moment – and all the other wonderful (and considerably better tasting) food moments we had on that trip back in 2018.
It reminded me of the bouchons in Lyon, the bistros in Paris and Beaune, the fabulous Lyonnais salad I had for lunch one day in Troyes, the Poulet de Bresse at Paul Bocuse’s Le Nord, and the communal table outside under a vine-covered pergola in Champagne. It reminded me of markets, and it reminded me of the cooking class we did with Alex in Dijon.
My verdict… I have other similar cookbooks in my collection so if I hadn’t had to purchase a copy for the purposes of this review (Patricia Wells isn’t really known in Australia so the library doesn’t stock her work) I probably wouldn’t have bought it. I am, however, glad I did as it’s a book that really does capture those food memories and delivers authentic recipes to help you recreate those moments in your own kitchen. It’s French food the way it should be – seasonal, no fuss, satisfying, without pretension. I also love how it’s peppered (no pun intended) with food-related excerpts from books such as Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and the illustrations that appear throughout. Whoever chose this one for us to review, thank you. You need this book in your life if:
- You want to create a little bistro in your kitchen
- You’re a Francophile and inhale anything that takes you there
- You prefer your food to be unfussy, but full of flavour and seasonality
- You’re not into fancy schmancy haute cuisine
- You love reading foodie-style excerpts from other authors
Don’t buy this book if:
- You need photos in your cookbooks
- You like your cookbooks to be beautifully styled and produced
- You don’t want to cook with butter, olive oil, and other fabulous ingredients like bacon, sausages, cream, and potatoes.
- You prefer your recipes to be restauranty rather than homely.
A recipe please? So far I’ve cooked a few things from this book – Pommes a l’Huile (potato salad with herby vinaigrette); Daube de boeuf Auberge de la Madone aux cèpes et à l’orange (which sounds so much better than Auberge de la Madone’s beef stew with wild mushrooms and orange); and I also made the aioli one night to have with fish.
The recipe I’m choosing to feature today though, is the Salade Frisee aux lardons aux Lyonnais – which is pretty much Lyonnaise salad with bacon. It’s very similar to one I enjoyed for lunch in Troyes and I’m cursing the fact that I didn’t get a photo of it.What you need…
- 500g good pork sausages
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
- 125ml peanut oil (I use mild olive oil)
- 6 cups curly endive, rinsed, dried and torn into fork-able pieces
- 125g slab bacon (if in Australia, slab bacon is sold as speck), rund removed, cut into 2.5cm cubes
- 2 large slices of country-style bread, cut into 2.5cm cubes
What you do with it…For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and salt to taste. Gradually add the oil, whisking to blend, and set aside.While the recipe calls for the sausage to be simmered for 30-40 minutes until cooked, set aside to cool and then skinned and sliced, we fried them and then cut into thin slices. We cooked the bacon (using no additional fat) in the same pan over a med-high heat for about 4-5 minutes until the bacon begins to give off some fat. Add the bread and cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring often, until both the bacon and the bread is crisp and evenly browned.To serve – place the salad greens in a wide, shallow bowl, arranged the sausages over the top and spoon on the bacon and croutons. Add the dressing and toss gently and thoroughly.
Joanne Tracey is an Australian author of contemporary women’s fiction and cozy culinary mysteries inspired by her travels, a love of baking and happy endings. Based on the Sunshine Coast in South-East Queensland, Jo is an unapologetic daydreamer, eternal optimist, and confirmed morning person. When she isn’t writing or day-jobbing, Jo loves baking, reading, long walks along the beach and posting way too many photos of sunrises on Instagram. Jo’s life goals (apart from being a world-famous author) are to be an extra on Midsomer Murders and to cook her way through Nigella’s books. You’ll find her foodie blog at Brookford Kitchen Diaries (BKD).Her travel and bookish blog at And Anyways
And her books at: www.joannetracey.comFacebook: joannetraceyauthorInstagram @jotracey
Thanks Jo for telling us the funny personal experience that you and your husband had in a French Bistro. I am definitely never going to order andouillette if I happen to stumble upon it in the U.S.