New Year is a very special time for Edinburgers; or at least, for tourists pretending to be Edinburgers. Hogmanay usually means paying exorbitant amounts to stand in the freezing cold on our high street, listening to 80’s bands that everyone has forgot exist, whilst drinking flat Irn Bru and vodka from a plastic bottle you’ve brought in with you.
Needless to say, I’ve never bothered with that nonsense. Usually I head to a house party where it’s warm and toasty, I can drink chilled cava, and not have to go outside: until my bloody friends decide it’s time to climb Calton Hill to look at some explosions in the sky. Urgh.
This year, circumstances forced us to something a bit different: we invited a few of our pals out to France. We only had space for four people, so once Sam, Euan, Jack and Shara bagsied them, that was it. Apologies to those of you who had to stay in Edinburgh, where I hear they’ve started charging for the Loony Dook.
What a travesty by the way, if I want to jump into the freezing waters of the Forth on New Year’s morning I shouldn’t have to pay!
The French believe that the more you eat on New Year’s Eve, the more prosperous you will be during the year ahead. I think something got lost in translation there, and the real meaning is “the more fat you will be during the year ahead.” James and I decided to prepare a feast of tapas, as we were still a little burnt out from making Christmas dinner for eight people.
Then James went off somewhere and left me to do everything myself, and so Euan (you might remember his scathing review of Chaophraya and that Indian restaurant in Corstorphine) swiftly took over. I stood in the middle with a glass of fizz and criticised James’s kitchen skills as the busy worker bees got preppin’.
Don’t worry readers; we soon stopped arguing and I chased our guests out of the kitchen once they’d done the majority of the work so that James could swan in at the end and take all the credit, like an American at the end of WWII.
We cooked lots of things: Euan made dauphinoise potatoes, I made a tandoori chicken, there were patatas bravas with the truly awesome Aioli Sud that they sell on the fish counter here, there were wee sausage roll things from Super U’s freezer section, some frog’s legs which were expertly breaded by Shara, plenty of crisps, pate and crackers, kir royales, mini black pudding sausages, atomic buffalo turds with chorizo instead of bacon…. but worst of all, there were escargot.
According to the hotels4u infographic I posted the other day, the French are mad for escargot. The only time I ever saw them in the supermarket was at New Year, but then we are in the South West where people go mad for gizzards instead. Gizzard pizza anyone? No? Tough.
The verdict? Boke. They were like gritty little meaty mushrooms, with not much flavour to distract from the chewy, manky texture. Worst of all, I had to eat three. Despite being an intrepid foodie, even Euan couldn’t stomach the escargots. I can’t stomach seeing good food(!!) go to waste, so I ate the one he’d left.
So if you find yourself in France and you think “mm I think I’ll order the escargot!” don’t bother. Try the frog’s legs instead: sure, they’ve probably been frozen and imported from Indonesia, but they’re less likely to give you the boke.