March 2016

The Offal Bore

Paul Levy, the Symposium’s former Chair, considers the lonely life of the offal enthusiast

The offal bore knows that in London, Bellamy’s in Earl’s Court Road have the best brains, Curnick’s have the best sweetbreads, Randall & Aubin’s tripe is unbeatable. In New York, he haunts Les 3 Petits Cochons. The last time he was in Lyon he had tripe six different ways. He will devote an entire evening to explaining the difference between gras double and tripes, will draw diagrams on napkins showing the stomachs of ruminants. Caen, Lyon (for tablier de sapeur) and Provence (for pieds et pacquets) are names that make his piggy eyes light up. He refuses to look at the cathedral in Sienna because he has heard that there is a restaurant that does tripe with basil and fennel and he has to find it. He thinks Spain is wonderful. He has a strong second suit as a sausage bore – Camisa and Le Cochon Rose are the places he haunts, and, of course, Randall & Aubin for andouillettes and boudins.

Once upon a time in Ceuta he missed a ferry to Algeciras because he just had to have another lot of deep-fried brains. He is actually not very keen on liver, though devours platesful of kidneys – his hero is Leopold Bloom. Unfashionably he likes pigs’ kidneys. The prize he pursues, so far unsuccessfully, is animelles – fries – testicles – balls.

He despises English sausages and the fondness of Graham Greene and Anthony Burgess for those bread-filled tubes. His favourite restaurant in England is almost too refined for him – the Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, where Raymond Blanc is trying to get the British to eat ‘the less noble offal’. In Blanc’s médaillon de veau et ses béatilles, the veal fillets are served with sweetbreads, brains and amourette – spinal column.

The offal bore is lonely, he finds few people with whom he can share his passion. His wife cannot bear the smell of tripe and complains that the sight of a bloody animal’s brain in the refrigerator is off-putting first thing in the morning.

Reprinted,with permission, from The Official Foodie Handbook by Ann Barr and Paul Levy, Ebury, 1984

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