Saturday, 2 January 2010

Adventures in Offal

My interest in the wobbly bits of animals that are often left in the butchers' fridge (until he takes it home and cooks it), is probably rooted in a deep love for Argentina and simple Argentine cuisine. I have lived in the country for a total of five years; first between 1998 and 2001, and then again in 2006 to 2008, with my new wife. While I returned to the UK I profoundly missed Argentine life and culture. The utter excitement of living in Buenos Aires – chaotic and unpredictable – was irresistible, a far cry from sleepy Eastbourne on the south coast of England. The one constant, however, in Argentine life, among the violence and fear caused by a grave financial crisis, was the asado. Quite simply it is a barbecue. But like meals in many Latin influence countries, the asado was a coming together for the family. I have heard, in all seriousness, that it is the cornerstone of Argentine society.

I missed it, so I returned. It was however, more than I'd like to admit, a little piece of meat, crisped on a barbecue, soft in the middle and lightly wet with fresh lemon juice the real reason I returned. Yes, I uprooted my new wife, flew us half way around the world to Buenos Aires for a piece of meat. I don't want to exaggerate, it wasn't 100% the reason I returned, just about 60% of it. A lot for a thymus gland. The veal sweetbread is a stunning piece food. With the texture of a scallop, a hint of a liver, but meaty, fatty and fabulous.

I will, in time, further explain other reasons for the blog. But in short, it was the Argentine experience, a meal at the truly great St John's Restaurant and healthy addiction to Fergus Henderson's cookbooks – which shall make up much of the recipes I follow, and a culinary inquisitiveness for the tastiest (and often cheapest) odd bits of animals.