Travel Throwback. Eating in Paris.

Sometimes the language barriers that exist when we travel can be a good thing. It forces us to move outside of our comfort zones – try new things, navigate cities by feel. I first visited Paris in the spring of 2010. Almost exactly a decade ago, to date. My wife & I took the trip as a delayed honeymoon. She’d been to Paris before, and had studied for a semester in the south-western town of Pau. My wife speaks very good French. And in the years since this trip I have attempted to learn the language, to a degree. When we returned to France in 2013 for a brief stay in Paris followed by a wedding in Bordeaux, I was slightly better with my communication. I could easily order wine, bread, and cheese. I was fine.

But there was a very big reason I made this face one evening at a charming local Parisian restaurant called Le Gavroche Bar à vins at 19 Rue Saint-Marc. This is a very highly rated local (read: non-tourist trap) restaurant adored by locals, and highly rated on Yelp, Google, and Trip Advisor. It came recommended to us by someone we trusted. I recall having some salad and pate and wine that were exquisite. And my wife ordered some veal dish with fries that was superb. But I did not enjoy my main course. I ordered wrong. I saw a word I thought I recognized and thought it would be something I would like, and I ordered it and…well, let’s just say it has become the legend known as the “poop sausage” incident in my house.

The real name for this dish, I believe is Andouille de Pays Grillee. It is a pork-based grilled sausage covered in a rich, creamy sauce and cheese. Sounds good, right? Should have been. I don’t know if this was a bad batch, or if this is how this dish is supposed to taste, but it was downright putrid. Additional research has shown me that Andouille de Pays, also known as Brittany Andouille de Guémené is a typical Breton sausage made from pork meat, chitterlings, pepper, onions, wine and seasonings, and it can be served either hot or cold. The Breton pork sausage is made of the typical “chaudins”, the large intestines of the pig which are rolled up the ones on the others – 20 to 25 guts are required for one andouille! The Breton andouille is finally wrapped in beef casing, smoked and then dried (up to nine months sometimes) before being cooked slowly in stock flavoured with hay.

Go back a few lines and reread the part that says LARGE INTESTINES OF PIG. Well, that explains a lot. I ate maybe two or three bites, but could not continue. My wife was kind enough to let me eat a bit of her dish, and to be honest the fries dipped in the poop sausage sauce was actually quite good. I don’t want to make it look like I’m giving this restaurant a bad review ten years after my meal. I’m not. The rest of the meal was quite good, and the atmosphere was perfect. The wine was delicious as was our dessert. And today with something like Google I could probably do a bit more research before ordering a mystery dish. But it makes for a good story which my six-year-old daughter finds hilarious. Whatever it takes, I suppose.

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