French food notes: everything is an ingredient

Nothing’s afoot with these slow-cooked specialities. In our series providing a sideways glance at French food, we look at the country’s ‘everything is an ingredient’ ethos

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When it comes to nose-to-tail eating, the French cook’s concept of ‘waste-not, want-not’ – historically borne of necessity during lean times – leaves literally no body part safe from eager consumption.

Eating everything has even become more trendy in the last 15 years or so – and that includes beasts’ feet.

The French are not alone in munching on slow-cooked, cheap-cut extremities, of course – Chinese chefs serve up braised pig’s trotters, while in Jamaica you can order a spicy stew of cow’s feet.

But in France these humble pieds are lent a certain noblesse via recipes that transform what are quite glutinous, uninspiring morsels into tasty dishes.

In Lyon – deemed by most as France’s spiritual home, culinarily speaking – there is a popular ‘Grandmother’s’ recipe for veal’s feet salad (salade de pieds de veau).

Preparing it at home can be fairly painstaking – the feet need to be deboned, then simmered for ages, with the cooking foam spooned off regularly, before being cooled, diced and served in a mustard or fromage blanc vinaigrette, along with other ingredients.

For a reputed taster of the recipe, in Lyon head for the main food market (Les Halles) where Charcuterie Bobosse’s version is a winner.

Heading further south, and popular in Marseille is another dish not for the delicate of constitution.

This time it’s lamb’s feet and tripe: the pieds-paquets (translated as ‘feet and parcels’, left) sees the feet slow-cooked in wine with carrot and tomatoes, alongside stuffed tripe parcels.

None other than Alain Ducasse does a version, proving that with a little love and attention, even the humblest of animal parts can reach the top table.

Gadget inspector

In the mood for porcelain tableware to last a lifetime

Founded in Paris in 1830 by Charles Christofle, the high-end goldsmiths and ‘arts de la table’ (tableware) firm Christofle was a pioneer in electrolytic gilding and silver plating in France back in 1842.

Today, the company is a go-to for everything from elegant tea and coffee services to Champagne buckets.

It also produces fine porcelain dinner services for special occasions.

We love the Mood Nomade range – the five pieces shown cost €226.

Now available

Nectars of the gods come with producer guarantee

Le Petit Producteur is a label that provides a personal guarantee of terroir and consistent quality from French fruit and vegetable producers – so personal, in fact, that their photo appears on the bottles of juice they produce.

It also ensures that outlets selling the goods pay a fair price to the supplier.

Many of the juices and nectars are now available at Monoprix.

Sample price: Nectar de Cerise Griotte (Red morello cherry), €4.15 for 75cl. /