I have finally worked up the courage to try boudin blanc – only to find it was a sheer delight. There was no reason to have avoided it after all.
Admittedly, I chose very carefully where to make this culinary first.
We had a day out in Arras recently. The town is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais département, though with around 40,000 inhabitants, it would be fair to describe it as bijou.
At its centre is the Grand’ Place, which has typical Flemish facades – rather like Lille’s central square – and links through to the Place des Héros, where the town hall and its impressive belfry can be found.
As it was a Saturday, the square was full of market traders trying to keep the chill out by calling out enticements to passers-by. The cafés surrounding the square were busy with customers warming their hands on a coffee or a vin chaud.
We decided to have a look further afield for somewhere to have lunch. In my experience, the restaurants on the main squares don’t have to work as hard as those on the back streets. As a result, they can become lazy about what they serve.
That was how we came across La Marquise, a chic restaurant tucked away on the cobbled Rue des Petits Vieziers. It is one of those restaurants where there is a choice of just three dishes for each course – which I like, as you know it’s all fresh.
The starters included a millefeuille of boudin blanc and apples.
For years I have resisted boudin blanc for being a traditional offal dish. However, I had actually enjoyed a plate of ris de veau on a set menu at Christmas, so I was feeling emboldened.
I ordered it with confidence.
“Offal is so common on menus that the French must eat it all the time. Somehow, in trying it, I had become more French”
My faith was repaid. As the photo shows, what was served was a thing of beauty. The apples complemented the sausage and the wafer-thin pastry. I savoured every mouthful.
When the waitress came to clear our plates, I shared with her that this was my first time of eating boudin blanc. I felt that I had passed some kind of test.
Offal is so common on menus that the French must eat it all the time. Somehow, in trying it, I had become more French.
She grimaced. “Me, I can’t stand it,” she said.
So much for having to enjoy offal to fit in.