GIZZARDS, KIDNEYS, FEET, BRAINS, TAILS... These and other cuts that we wouldn't usually cook, whether from lack of culinary knowledge or from fear, make up the great family of offal. Offal is all around us. It's there lurking on a friendly butcher's display, waiting patiently for the chance to take centre stage on our plates and shout loud and clear: Tous a table?!
The signature image in this intensely photographed and concisely written book on all things offal is that of a raw beef heart, marbled with fat and pierced through by a kitchen knife. French chef Reynaud, and photographer Marie-Pierre Morel, have never been shy when it comes to the spilling of guts. Here, the guts include not just the heart but also thymus glands, kidneys, brains, tongue, intestines, and the occasional udder. Reynaud crafts them into over 75 savory recipes ranging from the tame chicken liver souffl s to the more daring curried pork cheeks, and from the overly specific spinal cord with oyster mushrooms to the euphemistic lamb fries (testicles saut ed in butter and garlic). Each organ or extremity has its own chapter, prefaced with a brief definition and a folksy meditation from the author, which is usually as corny as it is meaty. Reynaud also has the sometimes dark habit of humanizing his ingredients. Of kidneys, he writes, "They make friends with the skewer and join the party on the embers of summer." Funny illustrations from Jos Reis de Matos of bipedal pigs wearing eyeglasses and of a sheep polishing a calf's foot, presumably before it's made into calf's foot salad, add to the twisted humor.