The reader may have noted that I write comparatively little about the many and varied delights of the kitchen at Chateau de Bois Giraud. The reason for this is quite simple – I am one of the worst cooks in the history of Western civilisation, a fact I blame on my being traumatised as a small child by watching Fanny and Johnny Craddock on BBC1. But with such facilities on hand, I have no excuse but to at least try my hand at some of the region’s cuisine. With the cold weather now very much on the way, a warming dish of andouilles served with a mustard sauce – and a certain amount of frites – might well be the ideal dish. Alternatively, I might opt for a garnish of caramelised onions or some sliced apple.
The andouille is essentially a coarse-grained smoked sausage made from using pork, pepper, onions, seasonings and wine. It is associated with Brittany, although there is some debate as to whether the andouille can trace its origins to Germany. By the sixteenth century, the Livre fort excellent de cuisine (The Most Excellent Book of Cookery) referred to their saffron-stained casings dissolved in verjuice and a process of being cold- smoked in the chimneys. Today the sausages are cured for several weeks over beechwood.
Such is the fame of the andouille that the village of Guémené-sur-Scorff near Pontivy even stages the Fete de l’Andouille every August. The local tourist office claims that ‘you may think you already know the taste of the Guémené andouille sausage, given that it can be found in supermarkets all over France, but the real thing only comes from Guémené-sur-Scorff, a small town with as much character as its sausage has’.
And, as a final incentive to try my hand at andouille cooking, the name is also French slang for idiot or rascal. In the dubbed version of The Simpsons, Homer is prone to saying ‘andouille de Flanders!’ regarding his next-door neighbour.