Our friends Dr T and Dr E have just returned from la belle France with a saucisson lyonnais, which is stuffed with pistachios and truffles. They've invited me and Pluvialis over to eat it. Good god almighty, and if the sausage itself weren't enough to make my day, Drs T & E are what is technically called Good Peoples and are all sorts of fun to hang about with eating delicacies francaises or whatever is the comestible of the day. Dr E is the one with extensive scholarship in things French, but her fabulously civilising influence has moulded Dr T into a man who looks very much as if he just stepped in from a leisurely stroll by the Seine.
For a nauseating, vertiginous moment, a scheduling problem threatened to scuttle the saucisson consumption plans. Thus did the following grace the university server:
Dr E: Well... I'd only been planning to mark translations, so I'm sure there must be some way around that... My place at 8?
Dr T: Super! Division of labour is surely the answer. Two of us can eat the sausage while the other two mark translations. Then we can swap.
Pluvialis: But academia, philosophy, aesthetics and sausages are all the same thing. There's a great quote, I think from Escoffier, which I've never been able to forget:
"The appearance of a hot sausage with its salad of potatoes in oil can leave nobody indifferent ... it is pure, it precludes all sentimentality, it is the Truth."
Dr T: Did you make that quotation up? It's wonderful! (Btw, I had always idiotically assumed the word "scoff", used to mean grub, food etc, came from a corruption of "Escoffier". It doesn't, alas.)
Pluvialis: No, it's absolutely hand on heart true. Elizabeth David quotes it in one of her books.
[some minutes pass]
Dr T: Zounds! It's written about THE VERY SAUSAGE we propose to consume! (It
turns out to be Francis Amunategui, writing of "Saucisson Chaud a la Lyonnaise" quoted on p. 228 of French Provincial Cooking)
Anal academic? Me?
Dr E: Seigneur! I'm going to bring all of this into my supervision on Rabelais.
Dr T: Elizabeth David herself says this of La Cuisine Lyonnaise:
"...when one actually reaches this fountain-head of French provincial cookery one is conscious of the sense of anticlimax."
Oh no! Is the sausage rubbish??? But wait...
"Of the renowned charcuterie, only one product, the cervelas truffé comes up to expectations. This is a large, lightly cured pork sausage, liberally truffled, which may be eaten sliced as an hors-d'oeuvre, or poached and served with potatoes, or even used whole as a stuffing for a piece of boned and rolled meat."
Only one product! And that product will, with any luck, be safely nestled in our tummies by about 9pm.
[A pause of ten minutes]
Dr T: Ignore everything I have written. On closer inspection there are NO TRUFFLES in our sausage. Merde!
Pluvialis: Oh well, we'll have to look forward to a slightly sentimental, impure, and approximately True evening, instead.
Dr T: It's not all bad news. We will indeed be eating the simpler sausage Amunatégui refers to, but it's not the cervelas truffé that ED gets especially excited about. ED isn't too snooty about our one, but I can't help thinking this isn't entirely fulsome praise:
"Given a good sausage and well-seasoned potatoes, it is a most delicious dish, which will not be despised by the most fastidious."
Pluvialis: Is not ED saying "will not be despised by the most fastidious" rather like Ernest Shackleton saying "it's a little less than warm, don't you think?" while on the Endeavour?
I am looking forward to the sausage. From ED's description, it also sounds like the kind of thing Poirot would stuff his face with (not in front of Hastings or Miss Lemon, of course).
I have just returned from hieing myself to the brilliant wine shop around the corner (150 single malts! But that is another post) and my digestive system is right this moment moulding itself into saucisson shapes in glorious preparation.
So, in short, dear readers, what I have to say is this. When I whine about my life, (which, with 60 all-too-motherfreaking-short days until The Submission, I am going to do more than usual, which is already copiously), pay no attention.
I love my life. I love these people. I am the luckiest woman in the world, because my inbox contains emails with the subject line C H E A P!!! V!AgrA!!
But also ones about saucisson lyonnais and Shackleton. Which just goes to show, you never can tell what will be sharing whose bed between the sheets of intellectual history.