I WAS reminded recently of the joy of re-hearing old stories.
That familiar rhythm, the anecdotes – laughing before the punch line has been told.
It happened at a birthday lunch held in honour of my husband last month, when one of the guests admitted he had never heard about that time when our friend (who for his sake will remain nameless) ate Andouillette.
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"You have to tell the story now?" our friend was asked. "No, you've all heard it before," came his response. "But we never tire of hearing it," pleaded half the table.
And so the story was told ...
It was summer 2008, Paris, France. Three of my friends were holidaying in the city. After a few beers they entered a restaurant in the Bastille area. Two of the group, feeling a little delicate from the night before, opted for something simple.
The third decided to try out his (relatively good) French on the waiter. They got chatting. My friend, curious about a certain dish on the menu, asked what Andouillette was. A "pork sausage" came the response. "Great," he said. "I'll take it."
The sausage came. So did the stench. "Like a sewer basically," my friend said. Undeterred, my friend cut into the grey-coloured sausage, having been assured by the waiter that this was a French delicacy. The stench got worse but he decided to take a bite. It tasted just as it smelled – of excrement. "Like s***," I think were his exact words. Even to this day he looks a little ill as he recalls this.
He chewed, for about 10 minutes, before finally managing to swallow it.
A week later my friend found out what Andouillette is. "You ate that?" his informant asked. "Do you know that's a pig's colon?" My friend didn't, though it certainly explained the challenging flavour.