By Fred Berkmiller 

WE all have food memories and like many people, I am constantly on the search to rediscover this flavour or recreate that recipe. Whether it be that garlic sausage I had with my grandfather when very young, the cockles that I picked with my grandmother while on holiday in Noirmoutier, the flavour of that rabbit we had on my 14th birthday or the pasta gratin with Paris ham and Comté cheese my mum used to make.

These are the happy ones but there are also the bad memories, the ones that made us unhappy, or left us with that bad taste in our mouths. I recall that calf's brain that stayed in front of me on my plate for what seemed like hours. The family had left the table, the dog had been locked away and I was banned from leaving the table until my plate was cleared. Today if there are any leftovers at home I will wake up during the night to clear them.

The first few oysters were a drama for me as well. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to eat something floating in a glass of salted water. I could see my uncles, aunties, grandparents and parents getting the oysters ready; and they made sure there were no less than 12 each for each meal over the Christmas period, that makes it a mere 100 oysters per person.

Another thing I couldn’t understand was tripe. My dad was in charge of the tripe. The name alone was putting me off, never mind looking at my dad and his mates eating it – they seemed so happy! It took me such a long time to come to understand it and like it.

How does a bad taste make us a food lover? Well, no memories, no food culture. Let's be honest, who at the age of six or 12 wants to eat spinach, broccoli, calf's head or oysters? But, there is definitely no chance of youngsters being comfortable with different tastes and flavours if they have no early memories of food.

Nowadays, I need my monthly intake of tripe, white kidneys, calf's head or anything that is in danger of to disappearing from our cultural heritage.

Bon appétit!

Tripes de boeuf braise mode de Caen (Braised beef tripes with Calvados)

Serves 4/6

1kg beef tripe

1 beef trotter, boned and diced

25ml white wine

1 carrot, peeled and left whole

50ml chicken stock

1 leek, washed and diced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 onions, peeled and sliced

1 celery stalk

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 bouquet garni

For serving:

Chopped parsley

5ml calvados

Knob of butter

Mashed or boiled potatoes


1. Clean and rinse your tripe, then dice into large cubes.

2. Peel, wash and prepare all of your vegetables, and reserve.

3. Clean and debone the beef trotter, then dice into large cubes. If you are unsure how to prepare it, ask your butcher.

4. In a large cast iron pot, sweat your onions with crushed garlic in butter until golden.

5. When the onions are golden, add sliced carrots and leek, and keep sweating for a few minutes.

6. Add in the tripe and diced beef trotter.

7. Pour in the white wine; reduce for a minute or two until nearly dry.

8. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, and add the bouquet garni, whole carrot and celery stalk.

9. Simmer on a low heat for at least three hours with the lid on; alternatively you can place in a pre-heated oven at 90 degrees for 4-5 hours, checking it from time to time.

10. Once cooked, let the dish cool down and reserve until needed.

11. Bring back a medium heat, taste, season, and add the Calvados, a good knob of butter and the freshly chopped parsley.

12. Serve with very buttery mashed potatoes, Dijon mustard, a green salad and a bottle of Cotes du Rhone. Remember there is no such thing as a nice meal without good company. Bon Appetit!

Fred Berkmiller is chef patron of the AA rosette-awarded Edinburgh restaurants L’Escargot Bleu (56 Broughton Street) and L’Escargot Blanc (17 Queensferry Street)