Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Craig Claiborne did not give one tiny damn about where his beef came came from.  He didn’t care whether the cow had a happy life or a cruel death.  He didn’t have the slightest idea that the creature that was to provide his prime beef spent its last weeks confined to a narrow pen, barely able to move, and gorging on corn that made it literally sick.  He knew nothing of the foul waste that flowed from those feedlots into nearby streams.  He had no notion of the disastrous effects that the highly industrialized and corporate American corn and beef markets had on small farmers in other countries.

When Craig published his and Pierre Franey’s recipe for steak au poivre à la crème in the Craig Claiborne Journal of February 15, 1974, Michael Pollan had just turned nineteen years old and was a student at Bennington College in Vermont.  He didn’t know much, if anything, about beef either, yet.

Craig had been dead for six years when Pollan published The Omnivore’s Dilemma in 2006, and the well-informed American beef eater’s life would never be the same again.  The dilemma is still very much with us.  There are a number of problems in beef production, but the biggest by far is “finishing”—that is, fattening—cows on corn.

(That fat is the “marbling” that is so highly prized in prime meat.  It is also quite similar to the stuff that was clogging Craig Claiborne’s arterial plumbing so thoroughly that he required quadruple coronary bypass surgery in 1993, complications from which pretty much ruined the last seven years of his life.)

Alice Waters, as you might expect, a personal friend of Michael Pollan’s, was among the first widely known restaurateurs to decide to serve only grass-fed, organic beef.  She hired a consultant to travel first nearby and then ever farther from Berkeley in quest of grass-fed beef that wasn’t tough as leather and tasted good.  I took part in a beef tasting one afternoon at Chez Panisse, judging the best that Alice’s forager had found.  It ranged from mediocre down.  I had dinner recently at Chez Panisse and was served a tournedos of grass-fed beef—from the filet, the tenderest cut on the animal—and it was...mighty chewy.  And it didn’t really taste so good either.

Yet of course it’s possible!  Consider the American pronghorn, more commonly known as the antelope.  This magnificent animal can sprint to sixty miles per hour and cruise at forty-five.  As you might imagine, there’s very little fat on an antelope.  But the meat is superb—the tenderloin silkily tender.  Other grass-fed grazers, including elk, mule deer, and bison, all manage to produce delicious, more or less tender meat, at least in some cuts.  It’s hard to say what accounts for that, but it may have something to do with the kind of lives they lead—fresh air, clean water, natural food, low stress, quick death.

Tom and Patty Agnew, in Sweet Grass County, Montana, raise magnificent grass-fed cattle.  They attribute the tenderness and deep flavor of their beef to a combination of factors that takes real dedication to achieve: generations of attentive breeding for meat quality; the fact that the animals are “handled quietly and extremely humanely”—finishing them on rich alfalfa hay; and dry-aging the carcasses for three weeks (an expensive process, because the meat loses a good deal of moisture as it gains greatly in flavor).

Contrary to widespread opinion, careful freezing does no harm to good beef, and you can buy frozen Agnew beef at

Now to the dish already!  For twelve people Craig calls for four one-and-a-half pound shell steaks.  (“Shell steak” is New-Yorkese for New York strip.)  That will give you really nice thick steaks and reasonable eight-ounce servings.  Obviously you can cut the recipe down to any number, but do please try to use a steak at least an inch thick.  You could do it for one person with a filet.

Craig then rinses three tablespoons of canned green peppercorns, crushes one tablespoon of them, and presses those into the sides of the steaks.  These green things were very popular back in the seventies, later to be succeeded by the decidedly bizarre Sichuan pepper, which isn’t really pepper at all.  Green peppercorns are interesting, and milder, but the classic pepper for this dish is good old black.  (If you decide to go with black, do try to find nice aromatic peppercorns in one of those spice departments with a lot of turnover, and don’t grind them in a mill—you should crush them, because you want bigger pieces than a peppermill will give you.  A mortar and pestle are just right for the job, but you can also fold the peppercorns in a kitchen towel and smash ’em with a hammer, which can be quite satisfying.  Careful if you have a marble countertop, however.  Forget Sichuan, by the way.)

Craig cooks the steaks in a big heavy skillet in oil and butter, but a friend of mine taught me a couple of years ago a truly great method using no fat at all—just a cast iron skillet heated to really really really hot, and then just a couple of minutes on each side.  The resultant caramelization of the meat is gorgeous, and there’s a lot less splattering of grease.  You need serious ventilation for this trick.  A thick steak benefits from a careful browning of the fatty edges as well.  Usually you have to hold them upright with tongs.

Then you let the steaks finish in a low oven, on a rack in a pan you’ve already heated there.  If you’ve got all the time in the world, 275º is not too low, but you can suit yourself according to how much of a hurry you’re in.  The low heat gives you a uniform doneness rather than the well-to-rare gradation you get on a hot grill or in a typical sauté.  At 125º they’re perfect, and 130º is still fine, and thanks to the low oven they’re not going to keep cooking very much off the heat as they do when they come straight from a very hot pan or grill.  In any case you’re still going to want to rest them somewhere merely warm—100º or so—for twenty minutes.

After your cast iron pan has cooled to merely hot, there may or may not be enough fat to pour out.  If you need to do it, try to keep the stray peppercorns in the pan.  Add some butter now, and a couple of teaspoons of shallots per person, and cook until they’re translucent.  Now deglaze the pan with a generous pour of red wine, scraping hard to get up all that nice fond, and let it reduce to very little.  Craig’s recipe doesn’t call for it, but some chefs throw in a bit of brandy here and let it burn or boil off—it’s a nice touch.  Now add about a tablespoon of cream per person, plus any juices that have accumulated around the meat, and cook till till the sauce just thickens.  Add the remaining green peppercorns (rinsed, uncrushed).  (If you’re using black pepper, don’t add more to the sauce—the meat will be fiery enough.)  Finish the sauce by swirling in a little butter, just enough to give it a pretty gloss.

Salt the steak to taste, slice it diagonally across the grain about a third of an inch thick, and pass the sauce, warning your guests that a little may go a long way—it’s strong.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


In the epochal New York Times Cook Book of 1961, Craig titled this recipe just “broiled scallops,” so it was easy to let slip by.  He did add, as a subhead, “Scallops in vermouth is an unusual and good idea.”

And very easy indeed.  Also a dish that we can make even better than Craig and Pierre could, as will be explained below.

Craig’s recipe calls for the following ingredients for four people:

1½ pounds scallops
½ cup dry vermouth
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons minced parsley

You just put it all together, let it marinate in the fridge for “several hours,” and then put the whole business up close under a hot broiler.  One tip: Make sure the garlic is chopped really, really fine, because even small chunks spoil the texture of the dish.  And please don’t overcook the scallops.  They’re not going to brown.

The most important thing we have that Craig may or may not have had but very few of his readers could have had is really good scallops.  There’s an episode in my book The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat in which Craig goes to the Fulton Fish Market at four o’clock in the morning with the owners of the superb Parisian seafood restaurant Le Duc, Jean and Paul Minchelli, and they watch a boat unloading fifteen thousand pounds of “fresh” scallops after eleven days at sea.  The Minchelli brothers were almost sick.  But that’s how Americans got their scallops in 1974.

Now, however, we can get Atlantic sea scallops harvested by divers—plump, glistening (the scallops, not the divers), and kept in pristine condition both in shipping and in the market.  If we’re really lucky, we can get tiny bay scallops, of which the very best come from Nantucket Sound in a regrettably very brief season.

(You should avoid cheap dredge-harvested scallops, which have been kept “fresh” with preservatives.  The dredging damages the ocean floor, anyhow.  Also to be shunned are the bogus bay scallops that come from Southern, warm waters, and the farmed ones from China, which are no good at all.  Trust in one’s fishmonger is crucial.)

Our day has two other advantages over Craig’s.  One is that we can get much better olive oil than he could, and this is a place to use it.  Usually good olive oil doesn’t belong in cooking, but these scallops spend so little time under the broiler that the oil is not harmed.  Our other advantage is our vermouth.  Back in Craig’s day, most people kept vermouth for months unrefrigerated, and they didn’t even know how disgusting it was because they’d never tasted it the way it’s supposed to taste.  They also couldn’t get excellent vermouth.  Try Dolin Dry (not the blanc, which is too sweet).  It’s a fine apéritif as well, and makes a hell of a martini (no dryer than four to one, please, and do I have to say I’m talking about gin, not vodka?).

A tablespoon per person of the marinade seems like enough to serve, though some people may want more—it sops up tasty. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


One of the necessary intensifiers of all pornography is the presence in it of something extremely desirable that you can’t have.

So let me tell you about my having shared one of the rarest and finest bottles of wine in the world with its maker.

David Graves and Dick Ward were pals in the great winemaking school of the University of California at Davis back in the mid-1970s.  When they were in their first apprenticeships—Graves at Chappellet and Ward at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars—they dreamed that somehow they might get hold of some really great grapes, and that if they could they would try their hand at a small batch of very serious cabernet sauvignon.  They were lucky in having another friend from Davis named John Kongsgaard who knew a vineyard owner named Nathan Fay.  (Kongsgaard is himself a famous winemaker today, and Stag’s Leap’s Fay Vineyard wine is among the greatest Napa cabernets.)  Kongsgaard managed to procure a couple of tons of hand-picked Fay fruit, from the very good 1978 vintage, and divided it among himself, Dick and Dave, and a few other Davis buddies.

Dick and Dave fermented their half-ton in Dick’s garage in Davis.  The wine was enough to fill one barrel with unblended Fay cabernet.  They named it The Lark, after a San Francisco literary journal of the 1890s.

In his 1949 book about the early days of California wine, Vines in the Sun, Idwal Jones wrote that the writers and artists behind The Lark liked to gather at a restaurant called Coppa’s, and there they enjoyed “unending flows of dark Napa claret.”  Graves and Ward chose these words for the label of The Lark.  It was hardly an unending flow; 1978 was The Lark’s only vintage.

(David Graves and Dick Ward went on to found Saintsbury in 1981, in the Carneros district of Napa County, where they continue to produce pinot noir, chardonnay, and, recently, syrah, all of glorious quality.)

“The Lark suffered from only one serious shortcoming,” Graves recalls.  “Even right after bottling, it was too easy to drink.”  The twenty-five cases the barrel had yielded dwindled all too quickly to the three bottles that remained when Graves and I watched a waiter delicately extract the pieces of the crumbled cork at the House of Prime Rib in San Francisco a few evenings ago.

Immense rib roasts in polished brass wagons, hot pans of Yorkshire pudding hurrying from the kitchen, the lingering juniper-tang of our ritual preprandial martinis—these aromas made a classic background against which to inhale the plume of bouquet that billowed from our glasses.  The wine was still young, and intensely pure.  I have tasted Château Margaux only a handful of times in my life, but somehow it immediately came to mind.  There now remain on this earth two bottles of The Lark, and I’m wondering what I may have to do to get in on one of them.

Is there something obscene in the passion such a wine arouses?  I leave that question to the aficionado of oeno-porn.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Some recipes for this famous old dish call for apples, many for mushrooms.  Craig Claiborne’s has neither.  What is indispensable in his and all the others is the lovely apple brandy of Normandy called Calvados.

Having acquired some highly aromatic Calvados for the tripes à la mode de Caën of last week, I set out in quest of something worthy of it, and found chicken à la Vallée d’Auge in The New York Times International Cook Book, of 1971.  Craig, cooking for eight people, roasts two whole chickens in butter at 400º, but for just Elizabeth and me I did it with two thighs (skin on, bone in) at 450º.  He adds chopped onion partway through the roasting, a good idea, which I forgot to do.

In the old-fashioned way, he cooks each of the companion vegetables separately in its own pot of boiling water—carrots, turnips, green beans, and peas.  (Craig almost always had his friend Henry Creel nearby to wash dishes, or somebody else, hence his profligate use of pots.)  Because green beans are out of season, I left them out, but we do have beautiful early carrots, turnips, and peas right now, and I thought that if I watched them carefully I could roast the root vegetables in a cast-iron frying pan with the chicken.  I had pinky-skinny carrots that only needed peeling, and I cut the turnips into half-inch chunks, and although I did have to remove them before the chicken was done, they came out just beautiful.  The roasting probably helped compensate for the sweetness I’d lost by forgetting the onions, and the vegetables also contributed handsomely to the fond in the bottom of the pan.  I cooked the peas in a little water and butter, covered, till they were good and cooked—I don’t hold with underdone peas.

Remove the chicken and the vegetables to a hot platter, season them, and keep them warm.  Pour most of the accumulated fat out of your roasting pan, and deglaze it with a couple of tablespoons of Calvados—you may need to add a little water or white wine to get up all the little crunchy bits, and of course you do want to get them all—and then add some cream and reduce it to whatever consistency you want the sauce to be.  The cream needn't be much, maybe a couple of tablespoons per person.  Correct the seasoning.

Because the chicken skin is nice and crisp, you may not want to turn it in the sauce at this point, or maybe you do.  The vegetables are so pretty that I think they look best served unsauced.

A last splash of Calvados adds real panache to the sauce—don’t boil off the alcohol, you want that tang.

The way I think this dish looks best, which Craig Claiborne would never have done, is with the chicken on top of the sauce and the vegetables mixed together next door, maybe with a wee bit of sauce under them too.  Craig specifically directs you to heat up the vegetables in the sauce and then pour the whole kaboodle over the chicken.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Kind of a miracle.   Frank Bruni's op-ed column in today's New York Times is all about Craig Claiborne, and nearly all of it derives from my book, The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance.

Monday, April 9, 2012


They do not taste like pee.  Veal kidneys with mustard sauce are one of the great classics of French cooking for a reason: The dish is fantastic.

Ingredients, per person: one kidney, a couple of mushrooms, a couple of teaspoons of finely chopped shallots, a little Cognac, about a quarter-cup of cream, butter.

What is indispensable is that you have the freshest of kidneys.  Craig’s recipe, like nearly all others, specifies a whole kidney per serving, which is about half a pound.  (An American veal calf is like the kid in the back row repeating sixth grade for the third time who can’t fit into his desk anymore and whose secondary sexual characteristics belie his claim to “childhood."  A French or Italian calf tends to die younger.)  But I’m sorry, having looked a whole American veal kidney in the eye, I say a whole one is too much for one serving for any but the biggest of eaters; and half a kidney is probably too little.  You almost certainly are going to have to order kidneys in advance, so there will be waste, including quite a lot of fat.  (It’s the best-tasting fat on the whole critter, however.  A devil-may-care gourmand might fry potatoes in it, but for a gift of that fat and the organ trimmings your cat or dog will deem you a god.)

Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey’s recipe was first published in their very-non-best-seller Veal Cookery, of 1978, and Craig republished it word for word in his memoir, A Feast Made for Laughter, which included his one hundred favorite recipes.  Like many of his recipes, there’s a great deal it doesn’t tell you.

First of all Craig tells you to cut the kidneys into cubes “of one inch or slightly smaller.”  That happens to be geometrically impossible.  In any case Julia Child, in volume one of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, insists that unless you cook your veal kidneys whole, “the juices pour out and the kidneys boil and toughen.”

But in chunks is how I’ve always had them in French restaurants, and in chunks, says Jean-Pierre Moullé, the distinguished chef of Chez Panisse, is the classic way.  “But you’ve got to pay attention when you cook them,” Jean-Pierre told me.  “High heat, so you’ve got to be quick.  Butter and oil, or just oil.  Hot, quick, keeping them moving.  But too rare and it’s disgusting, and overdone and it’s rubber.”

Then you absolutely must get rid of the cooking fat altogether, because—Julia’s right about this—they will have oozed out some very unpleasant gray juice.  Dump the cooked kidneys into a sieve over the sink, wipe out the pan, melt a little fresh butter, and hold the kidneys barely warm.

In another pan sauté some sliced mushrooms in butter—regular button mushrooms—adding shallots halfway along, and then a splash of Cognac (which may burst into flame for a second, which is fun), and then a generous pour of cream, or a nice whack of crème fraîche.  Craig assigns to each of these phases a certain number of minutes along with the instruction to “keep stirring.”  He gives you no idea whatever of how much heat to use, or what the result is supposed to be like.  I will tell you.  You want to cook the mushrooms over lively heat so that they give up their liquid and start to brown—without burning the butter.  Then you add the shallots and cook them over a gentler heat till they’re translucent but not browning.  When you add the cream you want to turn the flame back up and boil it softly till it looks like a sauce and tastes good.  You stop a little short of the right thickness because it will continue to thicken somewhat.

I’m not specifying quantities, because you might like more or fewer mushrooms than I would; same with the cream.  Brandy too, but do go easy on it.

At the end you need to move quickly and have everything else already on the—warmed, please!—plates.  Potatoes sautéed in butter are perfect.  Elizabeth says young escarole would be good, and we’ve tried pea greens too, which weren’t so great.  Spinach maybe?  Peas would be perfect if you could ever find perfect peas (shoot me, but I think Green Giant frozen ones are the best).  I don’t know, maybe the whole American insistence on something green with everything is out of place here.

Anyway, hot up the sauce to boiling, fold in the kidneys quickety-quick along with a good dollop of Dijon mustard—taste it at this point and make sure it’s all in balance.  Have I said anything yet about tasting the food?  Taste your food.  Don’t worry about trichinosis or whatever it is your mother may have scared you about.  Taste the food, keep tasting it, and never serve the dish unless you’ve tasted it in its final form, in a right-size forkful and at the proper temperature.

Then salt and pepper, and taste it again, and swirl in some butter to smooth the liaison.  That’s it.

No, wait, Craig says to serve it on toast, and he’s right, it’s a great idea—good texture, and a great soaker-upper of the sauce.

A young red Burgundy is the ideal accompaniment.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


In further preparation, I found that this dish is the subject of virtual cult worship in France.  My friend Annie Jacquet Bentley, emailing from the old country, turned me on to the Confrérie des Tripaphages—the Brotherhood of Tripe Eaters—one of those only-in-France organizations fanatically devoted to a cultural obsession, in their case not only tripe but all the abats (offal, the beloved orphans of refined gastronomy): brains, head, muzzle, cheek, tongue, sweetbreads, breast, spinal marrow, tail, udders, liver, lungs, heart, testicles (also known as frivolités), kidneys, ears, spleen, and, supreme above all, tripe; and supreme above all other tripes, Tripes à la Mode de Caën.

The Grand Master of the Confrérie, M. Jean-Claude Guilleux, is, please note, suitably bedight in ancient costume, including what seems to be a velvet beanbag for a topper and, in lieu of a prince’s mace, a big wooden tripe-stirrer. 

This devotion to offal isn’t just a French thing.  The ideals of good gastronomic citizenship increasingly hold that we owe it to the animals we kill to make the most of them—as my father’s and Craig Claiborne’s families in Mississippi used to say of their pigs, to use everything but the squeal.  The British chef Fergus Henderson has a serious best-seller in his The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, and here in San Francisco Chris Cosentino draws hordes of carnivores to his restaurant Incanto, where beef heart on a skewer is a gentle introduction to the more challenging stuff.

The compendious Larousse Gastronomique, quoting the culinary historian Philéas Gilbert, informs us that the ancestry of Tripes à la Mode de Caën

goes back far into the past.  Athenaeus praised this dish.  The father of Greek poetry, Homer, noted the excellence of tripe....Rabelais tells us how Gargamelle gave birth to Gargantua after having eaten a huge dish of godebillios.

The more modern but equally obscure version of that word is gaudebillauds—a local dialect name for none other than Tripes à la Mode de Caën.  For those of you not up on your French literature, Gargantua was a big scary giant in a series of five satirical and quite dirty novels by François Rabelais—so we know that the dish was already held to have magical powers five hundred years ago.

By the nineteenth century France was full of triperies, and most people bought their tripe already cooked.  Auguste Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine, which gives recipes for virtually everything in all of French cuisine, has only this to say about Tripes à la Mode de Caën:

The preparation of tripe in the Caën manner calls for special treatment which it is not always easy to give.  It is preferable, in the circumstances, to go to the people who specialise in its preparation.

Well, thanks a lot, Auguste!  I should note that despite the best efforts of the Confrérie des Tripaphages, there remain today fewer than six  hundred honest-to-God triperies in France.

So to hell with Escoffier.  Henri-Paul Pellaprat and his academy’s-worth of fellow chefs in L’Art Culinaire Français tell us that the tripe of Caën is “the glory of Norman cooking...famous throughout the world,” and I’m damned well going to make it at home.

Following Craig’s instructions, I’ve blanched my calf’s foot, and I’ve soaked my tripe.  Supposedly the latter was going to require several changes of water till it ran clear, but it was clear right away, very nice.

I laid the calf’s foot at the bottom of a heavy Dutch oven (Jean-Pierre Moullé said it would do just as well as his tripière), cut the tripe into two-inch squares, and layered those on top.  Then came a carrot, a peeled onion, a stalk of celery, a leek, and a bouquet garni (bay, thyme, parsley, a clove, peppercorns, a clove of garlic).  Salt, pepper.  I poured in water to cover—some recipes call for Norman hard cider, which would be lovely, but Craig said water and I was trying to stick to his gospel.  Finally, blanching a little myself, I blanketed the whole thing with beef fat.  I brought it to a boil on the stove and then stuck it in a 300º oven.  Because my pot was not hermetically sealed, I did top up the liquid a few times.

Twelve hours later I had one of the most god-awful-looking messes I had ever laid eyes on.

Well, onward.  The big thing at this point was to get rid of all that fat, most of which had now melted down to a glistening inch or more of hot grease sloshing around on top.  The easy way to degrease the dish—which Craig’s recipe never mentions—is to strain the liquid out and leave it in the fridge overnight.  You can then just pop that huge cap of fat right off. 

Meanwhile you need to hunt around in the remaining mess for the various bones and get rid of those.  Also the vegetables, some of which will have cooked so far down they won’t be easy to identify.

And here’s something really creepy.  The actual hoofs?  They’re gone.  They’ve dissolved.

Add some good aged Calvados to your liquid.  Craig says then to strain it back into the dish through the double thickness of cheesecloth, though it’s hard to see the point of that, given what you’re pouring it into looks like.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning.

“Serving piping hot,” writes Craig, “with boiled potatoes on the side.”  Most authorities counsel a white wine, though cider would be excellent.

And, well, okay, let’s eat.  Boiled potatoes.  A bottle of Vouvray.  The tripe carefully degreased and re-hotted.  The calf’s foot has made the liquid unctuous indeed, but there’s still a lot of liquid, so a spoon comes in handy.

It’s very good.  Very good indeed.  But also a reminder that truly to appreciate a dish like this, to experience the deep-seated craving that brings citizens to form societies of devotion, you have to have grown up with a dish like Tripes à la Mode de Caën, or at least have eaten it many times.  If I were served my mother’s tuna-fish salad—heavily sweetened with pickle juice—for the first time now, at my age, I don’t know how I would take to it.  And do you remember your first raw oyster?

There are a good many reasons this dish is worth the work—one of them being how it links us through the centuries to our gastronomic forebears.  Another is that, strange though it may at first seem, it really does taste good; and in a way that nothing else does.

Monday, April 2, 2012


This is something I’m writing about in advance because I sense that I will have been changed in some mysterious way afterwards.  The thing is tripes à la mode de Caën, one of the classic dishes of French cooking.  The city of Caën, in Normandy, is famous for its tripe, and for being the resting place of William the Conqueror.

The tripe dish is among those I’ve chosen for Craig Claiborne’s Greatest Hits.  It’s significant in his career because it was one of the first recipes that Craig really challenged his readers with—in the Sunday magazine of the New York Times of December 8, 1957, when he had been working for the paper for less than three months.  He had just begun to show off his wicked wit, quoting this from the Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery: “Tripe, like certain alluring vices, is enjoyed by society’s two extremes, the topmost and lowermost strata.”

“Alluring vices” were a constant theme in Craig’s mind, and life, and he kept them almost entirely secret in those days.  But that has nothing to do with this.

I’m making only a quarter of the amount he goes for in his New York Times Cook Book of 1961.  That recipe calls for four pounds of honeycomb tripe and four calves’ feet.  Even from my very wide-ranging butcher in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Meat Company, tripe and calves’ feet have to be ordered.  When I went to pick up my one pound of tripe and my single calf’s foot, I was stunned: This was no foot, this was a whole goddamned lower leg!  It weighed four pounds, and cost twenty-three dollars.

Contemplating the monstrous thing at home—hoof and all, we’re talking—I felt that something was wrong.  I returned to the butcher, and explained my position.  Sympathetic as they always are, two of the guys at Golden Gate split the leg with their saw, longitudinally, so that the marrow and connective tissue would do their job of gelatinizing and silkifying the sauce; and they kindly took back half, saying they could easily use it in their weekly batch of (superb) veal stock.  They also sawed it in half the other way, so that it would fit in—what?  I still have no idea.  I do not own a tripière.  Yes, of course, the French batterie de cuisine includes a glazed earthenware pot dedicated to the baking of tripe:

I’ll spare you the rigamarole of prep—a good deal of washing, soaking, and blanching.  You layer tripe and vegetables on top of the calf’s foot and blanket the whole thing with—I kid you not—slices of pure beef fat.  But where the recipe starts to get really, um, unusual is in step five: “Cover the pot with the lid and prepare a thick paste with flour and water.  Seal the cover with the paste.  Bring to boiling point on top of stove, then place in oven.  Bake twelve hours.”  You read that right: twelve hours.

If you’re Craig Claiborne, send Con Ed bill to New York Times.  If you’re housewife in Caën, in nineteenth century, take tripière to neighborhood baker at end of day and leave in oven all night.  If you’re me, or you, make on cold day and prepare for major spike in utility bill.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.