Cave Carnem…..

With regards to posting on this blog, I’ve been remiss of late. My mind has been full of pictures and my fingers appeared to have run out of ink. And yet, there I was staring at the blank white sheet of a monitor screen hoping that intention would turn to fruition which was appearing to be fruitless plan. The blank screen of a monitor is somehow less daunting that a blank sheet of paper as there is a hidden life, a world in fact, buzzing away behind the void and, unannounced, a message from that world popped up on my screen…”wish vegetables tasted as lovely as your photos make them look (veggie phobic)”. I have known the author of the message for many years but, having not seen each other for the last 25 of those many years, our paths have diverged. When he last saw me I might well have been tucking into a marrow bone or enjoying a roast ox heart at the St John ( below is a snippet of today’s menu) …

…which was then, and remains now, one of my favourite restaurants in the world. The difference is that I no longer eat meat. Jenny has not eaten meat for a long time and the meatless diet crept up slowly on me over the last 18 years, during which we have been living deep in the carnivorous countryside of France. However, the seeds of distaste had been sown long before I crossed the Sleeve. I remember thinking that the display in the windows of butchers’ shops looked very much as I imagined would appear the remains of passengers after an aeroplane crash. The concept of raw meat having beauty was not one that sat easily with me as I associated dismembered flesh with nightmare and pain but, conversely, I was deeply attracted to the smell of some meats cooking and by the taste of charcuterie of all kinds. How easy might be the step to cannibalism if we concentrate on cooking aroma, texture and flavour…leaving out the middle man, so to speak, which, unnervingly, he would have done. One of the most glaring differences with “la France profonde” and urban England is the lack of shop fronts displaying anything other than surgical trusses, peculiar shoes or spectacles. It would be apposite to say that it is rare to see a butcher’s shop which means that the majority of meat that Jenny and I see is still in its original packing and mooing, honking or baaing …, en francais, meehhant, groinkant ou beehhant. I have no intention of proselytising as it’s an easy way to lose one’s friends and,indeed, one’s own mind but it explains that the title of the blog is not a misspelling. Below is a still life of the ingredients that I use to make Pommes Boulangere, a dish of which I never tire.

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.
This entry was posted in Art photography, Bistro, Digital photography, Emotion, Farming, Meat, Photography, Uncategorized, vegetarian, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Cave Carnem…..

  1. Rick Deslandes says:

    And where was the St Jean you correctly rave about ??

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Well it’s good to have you back!
    I will be in the St. John at midday tomorrow – true …and I’ll get Fergus to sign my report card if necessary!

  3. Eha says:

    *laughter* Roger, just for once we do disagree I have cut down on my meat consumption for my health and that of the planet but the shopwindow at which I am most likely to stop is that of a butcher ! I would love to be in London to have a few long lunches and dinners at St John’s ! A brilliant menu of down-to-earth food so much ‘nose-to-tail” ! Ox heart, bone marrow and rabbit offal alongside my beloved anchovies . . . glory be πŸ™‚ ! . . . Oh, to make it worse, I eat potatoes about twice a year and that has nought to do with my beloved carbs . . . please write again in this forum . . .

    • I’m really pleased to be writing here again….I don’t know why it’s been a problem for me. Any way, it’s good being in contact with everyone again. You would love the St John…..I really believe that Fergus Henderson may be the best restaurateur in the world….even for my current meat free status.

  4. Welcome to my delicious world without meat, Roger

  5. I might have a solution. The roast bone marrow that has been on the St. John menu for several millennia is too damn good to be affected by humanitarian concerns. Could we perhaps be more humane if instead of killing the cow, we just surgically amputated one leg and fitted a prosthetic? This leaves the cow to limp around the field and continue to eat the grass, moo for no reason at all, and squirt its runny shits wherever they are east convenient.

    This way, Roger, we can eat together at St. John both with clear consciences (within reason).


    • Hi James
      The wonderful thing with the St John is that one can still eat amazingly well as a non meat eater which saves all the prosthetic work you have suggested….I think Fergus is such a good restaurateur that he has reacted perfectly to the zeitgeist…and they have wonderful wine…only French wine, a decision with which I fully approve. Hope you’re both well and keeping up with your tireless globe trotting:)

  6. Misky says:

    Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver have a new book out: “The Book of St John”.

  7. MELewis says:

    Good to read you here again. For some reason I had not imagined you meatless as a foodie living in deepest France. I flirt with going veggie but can’t seem to give up all animal protein. That said, I’ve changed my habits hugely the past few years to incorporate more veg, generally the part of the meal I enjoy most!

    • Hi there….I wasn’t a meatless eater when we arrived here. It was being surrounded by animals in our little hamlet that slowly led me to not want to eat them….and a dislike of the massive amount of animals killed to feed a tiny proportion of our world. Any way, enough of that, I love fish and shellfish…and I love vegetables….so it works wonderfully….and wine isn’t animal:)

  8. catterel says:

    I too am almost meatless, and the smell of the butchery section in supermarkets turns my stomach. However, a local Swiss farmer once offered me whatever bits I wanted of a lamb he was slaughtering, and among those I asked for was – to his amazement as it’s offal – the liver. He gave it to me whole and entire, and I was absolutely amazed at the beauty (and size) of the thing. But on the whole, like you, I prefer to see the animals live and not chopped up into packages.

    • Hi there….it’s interesting that you chose the offal as, when I was a meat eater, I would always choose offal by preference. I never felt meat had the flavour offered by offal. However, as I said, living so close to to animals has made it impossible for me consider eating them. In truth, I have known real hunger and am lucky enough to be able to entertain my sensibilities.

    • Hi, I have just read my reply to your comment and realised that I must have done it on my iPhone….because I always make critical mistakes when typing on the microscopic key boards…will future generations be born with tiny slim finger or styli….any way, I noticed that I said ” In truth, I have known real hunger” which should read “I truth, I have NEVER known real hunger..”. Sorry about that:)

      • catterel says:

        Oh how I agree with you! I think future generations will evolve pointy pads on their finger tips … and I’m glad you, too, have never known really hunger. We are fortunate.

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