Fast food from Ripailles and the Big K

I’ve spent a day writing about bistrot food from my memories. Amongst those memories was a visit to Chez Allard http://iconolo.gy/archive/chez-allard-romain-bernardie- james/1393 a restaurant that I love. There aren’t any drawbacks, in that the tables are so tightly packed that it is as good as impossible to draw back your chair – no place for weak bladders. They specialise in volailles de Bresse, meaning a whole chicken with a mountain of girolles between two people. Wonderful duck and olives, escargots, pigeon and peas, rabbit stew, salad of beets and mache. Just fantastic gear. I have eaten there 2 times with a massive gap between the visits. The first time was in the late 60’s when OAS was blowing up cafes and making life quite frightening for a young photographer. I can’t remember what I ate, but I do remember feeling very uncomfortable as a long haired ingenue in Paris surrounded by crop haired colonels from the Legion Etrangere or the REP, who were entertaining both male and female lovers. They didn’t look like the sort of people who would take kindly to me, or to anyone saying “no” to them. I ate quietly and fucked off for 35 years. On the next visit I had the most wonderful pigeon and peas, followed by wonderful cheese and something else. I was with Jenny, my wife, and Andy Harris. The latter is a man who knows a great deal about food, so what followed was even more cruel. Jenny was already in hell. There was far too many bloody things and awful offal, and snails and generally things that she doesn’t believe people actually enjoy, but eat to be cool or, as she says, show off. Andy had his eyes on Rognons de Veau and they nearly exploded from their sockets when, not they, but “it” arrived. In my memory the kidney was the size of a baby’s head, dark brown and with the end of some tubes still visible. Daunting. With downcast, recently retrieved from the floor, eyes he muttered in a hushed voice “Don’t say a fucking word, Roger” and so the meal continued until the Big Kidney was no more. You win some, and you definitely lose some. The simple dish that I cooked tonight, in a genuine 20 minutes, is a smoked pork sausage poached with some Charlotte potatoes, carrottes de sables and leeks. With bread, a pot of mustard and a couple of glasses of Cotes de Rhone, I’m ready to carry on down memory lane.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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