For Love of the Andouillette – France’s Quirky Sausage

Andouillette from Chez Michel

Andouillette: Thanks to Meg Zimbeck

Andouillette – I love andouillette. Always have some when I’m in Paris. But it’s not to everyone’s taste.

The meaning of the word andouillette (which originated in the nineteenth century) is simply “small andouille,” and the andouille in question must not be confused with the Cajun version. And the thing is, they’re not particularly small these days.

They’re basically sausages, and are usually made of pork, but the filling is courser than that in your average banger and has been described as “squirmy” in http://mcmuffin.co.uk/mr_and_mrs_mcmuffin/2005/10/andouillette.html – which does suit it. (Some of the comments on that article are very funny.)

It is also regularly described as having a whiff of poo about it, and French politician Edouard Herriot mentioned that, like French politics it was better with a whiff of the “merde” about it but (importantly) not too much … This whiff manifests itself because the andouillette is made of chitterlings (small intestines) which, although cleaned, have the same compound that causes the distinctive odour of faeces. Not very atttractive-sounding, I grant you, but still darned tasty. Really. Although I have seen it described variously as ass sausage, gut sausage, tripe sausage, pig-colon sausage, not to mention hell on a plate.

You’ll see on menus that it often comes from Troyes in the Champagne region and this is the type that’s normally sold in French supermarkets. You’ll also see AAAAA andouillettes sold – that stands for the “Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique, roughly translated as the Amicable Association of Lovers of Authentic Andouillette” (according to our old pals at Wikipedia). Although the AAAAA is supposed to be the mark of a good andouillette there is an argument that because it appears everywhere, it’s more commercially produced and therefore not as good as the sausage made by some of the smaller producers. If I had a better palate I would give you a preference but I don’t, so there.

It can be eaten cold, although I’ve never tried this. It can be preserved in aspic. My favourite way of eating it, though, is grilled, with pommes frites and Dijon mustard, although you do see it served with mustard or red wine sauce instead, or mashed potatoes or dijonnaise potatoes rather than good old chips.

Some great places to have it in Paris are in the Terminus Nord, a beautiful brasserie opposite the Gare du Nord (and just around the corner from my apartment there), Vivant, also in the 10th arrondissement (43 Rue des Petites Ecuries), and Au Pied de Cochon in the 1st (6 rue Coquillière.)

I do hope you try some!

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