Monday, February 23, 2009

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig('s ear)

One of my bi-weekly joys is wandering down the rue to the fresh food market on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir.

Held every Tuesday and Friday, they are a bustling, noisy, colourful affirmation of life. The produce is fresh, the cheeses are ripe, the fishmongers are bawdy and the vendors are vocal.

And while living in France has largely desensitized me to butcher window displays of chickens with their heads attached and skinned rabbits with their eyes intact, there's one stall at the market that never fails to gross me out.

More than one of the charcutiers sell pork - in all its many variations. There's pork belly, pork roast, pork chops and more pork lard than you can poke a hardened artery at. And for the truly adventurous, there are pigs trotters (feet) and - wait for it - pig's ears and pig's snouts.

And not just plain old pig's ears, mind you. Some are even coated in a kind of aspic (what's the old saying about silk purses and sow's ears?)

I can't begin to imagine how you prepare a pig's ear or a pig's snout for eating. Do you lightly sauté them? Boil the living crap out of them? Or hurl them straight into the dog's bowl where surely they belong?

And no, this is not an invitation to email through your favourite offal recipes. As adventurous as I like to believe my palate is, I'm happy to stay in the dark on this one.

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