Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pigeon à la Française

First of all, the French would not use anything as common as a pigeon. A pigeon is too large, too uncouth and too urban a wingéd thing for the French to consider it worthy of eating. It is too grey. It’s song is not beautiful. For pigeon, substitute doves. Doves are prettier than their avian cousins and are the subject of poetry. A Frenchman would prefer to ingest a bird associated with love rather than one which besmirches architecture with its excrement.

Second, the French would not waste a brace of doves by subjecting them to the ignobility of being baked inside a pie, like blackbirds or some hideous piece of game which has been mutilated by an ill-trained hunting dog or blown to bits with a gun. A French goodwife would pluck and roast the doves whole, so that their form may be appreciated by those at table. The French consider the humble pie a culinary gunny-sack, meant merely as a crude container to hide whatever lies within. The average Frenchman has laughed for at least 300 years at the English because of their penchant for pie.

Thirdly, a person of true Gallic blood would rather spill it than use a recipe as a guide to any performance in the kitchen. The French are born with the complete Gastronomique already encoded in their brains the way the English are born with a full set of adult teeth already grossly misshapen buried in their gums. The French reserve the act of reading for noble pursuits such as those afforded by the civil service, whose complex bureaucracy provides all the reading material a man could ever need.

Fourthly, none of these words is in French, rendering it null and void.

Fifthly, this recipe makes no allowance for wine at any point during the preparation, execution or consummation of this dish, and it is therefore an affront to a Frenchman’s palate. The absence of alcohol is a clear sign that this recipe is detrimental to the health of the diner, and therefore very likely poisonous. In a related observation, the recipe ends with pouring some “white thickening sauce” into the pie before serving. There is no mention of enjoying a cigarette before or after serving.

Sixthly, there is no such thing as “white thickening sauce.” The pantheon of exulted chefs de cuisine have long established the basic sauces, and all of them have names. Indeed, no chef worth his whites could possibly get through the first month of culinary school without having committed these sauces to memory through the processes of repetition designed to break a human being’s spirit and thus render him fit for the service line.

Seventhly, “Stew-pan”? “Pye-pan”? Are these akin to “bed-pan”? The French have no such instruments of cookery.

Eighthly, the French Way is not to ruin a perfectly good afternoon which could be spent insulting English tourists at cafés and making love with other people’s spouses by laboring over a complicated dish involving doves and artichokes and veal sweetbreads and the like. The French Way is to have someone else do it and pay them for it.

Ninthly, On the menu it would be listed as Doves A La Mode d’Imbicile Anglais or the like, not “Pigeon Pie.”

Tenthly, a French person would rather order the Bifsteak aux Frites, Merci.

The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary, John Nott, 1773

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