Tuesday, July 21, 2009

l'amour en cage

Saturday we went out for lunch for our wedding anniversary and against my better judgement, I was persuaded by the patron to try some terrine de pied de veau vinaigrette - terrine of calf's foot. (You may recall that the last time I was in the same room as tĂȘte de veau my upper body had to remain alfresco.)

A slice of the terrine arrived with a curl of lettuce and, at first glance, it didn't look too bad - no obvious signs of hoof - so I pluckily put a forkful in my mouth. First impression: a taste of vinegar and shallots in the gelatine, nothing too vile. But as the gelatine dissolved whilst I was dissecting the untouched remains, the full horror of what was left in my mouth revealed itself on the plate - pieces of finely chopped skin (with hairs still attached thereto) and tendon and other stuff that's generally sent to the glue factory. Gag!

This is where a cheap napkin dispenser on the table would have come in handy, but in its absence, I had to spit into my linen napkin, which remained under the table for the rest of the meal. I still feel slightly queasy at the memory.

On the way home we stopped at a farmers' market where I spotted a box of physalis. I can't resist these ethereal-looking fruits the colour of sunshine with their fragile papery wings. In France they're called l'amour en cage (love in a cage), presumably because once the outer husks become skeletonized, they look like cages. Much more attractive than the STD-sounding English name!


Kathie said...

In the US we call these ground cherries; I remembmer my grandparents growing them in their vegetable garden. They're similar to the somewhat larger tomatillos, which are so popular in Mexican cooking (especially for salsa), although originally from Asia.

Plant tomatillo seeds in late spring (after all risk of late frost is past), and they will thrive till the first killing frost of autumn (actually, the fruits still inside the husks will survive a mild frost). Their culture is like tomatoes, except minus the cages or stakes. If any of the fruit drop on the ground, however, the seeds will sprout voluntarily the following spring, whether you want them there or not. Don't say I didn't warn you!

le moulin said...

Kathie, I was wondering what to do with the remaining l'amour en cage but you've hit on it with salsa. That's in my 'to post' blog box. Many thanks!

Kathie said...

Here's a recipe my husband developed:


3 Tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatillos
½ cup chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sugar
½ cup water
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

Sauté onion in oil in non-corroding saucepan. Remove stem ends from tomatillos, and chop coarsely; add tomatillos and rest of ingredients to pan. Cook till dissolved. Store in refrigerator, or can using hot-water bath.