Monday, April 21, 2008

The Quinto Quarto

I’ve mentioned more than a few times that although I don’t like to think of myself as a fussy eater (and how many grown-ups do?), I kind of am. I enjoy picturing myself as a person who enjoys regional specialties and local food, but, really, scrapple (I know I've beaten this to death already regarding scrapple. Still: blech.) and shoo fly pie (not my thing, despite being a great name) shoot that image of myself down pretty quickly. So do Florentine crostini, the ones spread with liver. You know, the local specialty that everyone talks about, the ones that are so very Florentine, so very Tuscan. I hate liver. I hate most innards, in fact. The quinto quarto is, in theory, a great idea. It’s thrifty and sensible, and look, I know some people can get over their hang-ups about eating intestines and kidneys better than I can (why does it not bother me as sausage casing but does in a pasta sauce? Good question), but look, know thyself, to thine own self be true, bla bla, etc., etc. Knowing myself has included coming to terms with the fact that I am something of a baby (I'm sure my hockey team-mates and my siblings and, erm, puh-lenty of other people would elaborate further if I didn't delete their comments.). However, I do regularly buck up and eat what innards are in front of me in order not to be a (complete) jackass. I cannot tell you how many bits of bread with pate I’ve choked down, trying to smile while I try not to gag, because the hostess insisted that this pate would convert me. And then I’ve smiled, and said that really, compared to all the other pates, it was lovely. I have never added that although it might be lovely by comparison to other pates, it still tasted like what I suspect dog poop tastes like. Sometimes I manage the head-to-mouth edit more successfully than other times.

I’ve had my sophistication questioned (as well it should be. Strike one: ice hockey player, and a not-so-hot one at that. Strike 2: eats pizza rolls. strike 3: hates innards) because I’ve openly admitted that I do not care for pate (and let me amend that. I do not care for pate that has liver in it). I’ve been accused of being a food philistine because I admit not caring for pate. But the thing is, most people have a food dislike that they just can’t get over. Often, more than one. Adventurous eaters have them, too (really. At least, I think they do. I want to think they do.). Right. Anyway. The upshot is that I am not an innards eater, and the quinto quarto is just not my thing.

Except for a part that gets categorized as innards, but is really… out-ards. The oxtail. I love oxtail. I have never had it prepared in a way that I did not like (although I’m sure there are several ways to prepare it that do not make for a happy result). Coda alla vaccinara is a wonderful, scrumptious dish. We only ate out a few times in Rome (we rented an apartment), and I was sorely tempted by the oxtail, but it got pushed to the side in my greediness for other dishes that I had missed more, and was less able to cook at home.

And so, before my husband and son embarked on the second most ill-advised camping trip they’ve ever attempted (the first, thankfully, was cancelled due to avalanches closing every single mountain pass), on an April weekend in which snow, hail and rain were all in the forecast (and we got to enjoy those three types of precipitation, plus freezing rain and sleet, while it was 80 in Pennsylvania and my sister— who will for her birthday now be receiving a used tube of Preparation H that I bought from a stranger— chortled delightedly about their grilling plans), I decided, the night before they left, to make something that would be warming, and I decided on oxtail. And it was, indeed, cozily warming. I photographed the oxtail before I cooked it, because once it was done it was a brown stew-y, delicious blob, but that’s harder to get a good picture of (plus, by then, no more natural light).

So, if you're balefully surveying the late April sky from a place that the weather is still more late February or early March, my advice would be, give oxtail a go.

5 comments:

homebody at heart said...

I couldn't agree with you more! No innards, no organs, blech! And what about tongue? Innards or outards? I'm not crazy about tongue either, but I have managed to eat it but I would never order it myself. And, how dare you be accused of being a philistine! In our family, that is reserved strictly for people you don't set the table with salad forks!

Philly Sis said...

I still think you are a weany on the pate front, but will grant you that other innards aren't meant for consumption. And that includes tongue. Scrapple lists as its ingredients "snout, ears, feet and OTHER PIG PARTS". I don't eat things that end their list like that despite being married to a wonderful native Pennsylvanian who thinks it is great stuff. Finally, since you told me that YOUR husband ATE some of my b-day gift before you sent it, I strongly suspect that it might not be a used tube of Preperation-H. Oh yeah, 70 degrees and sunny today....

Meg said...

homebody- well... my being a beer-drinking hockey player MIGHT have influenced the philistine accusation. It's possible that I had been talking about the joys of mugging somebody in the corner shortly before (and seriously? soooo fun), which might have made me seem less than cultured.

Yo, sis- my husband may be a considerably less picky eater than you think. Okay, there might be something French and scrumptious with the used tube. 70. Sunny. Hmph.

cook eat FRET said...

for the record, there is nothing i won't eat...

now you know...

Meg said...

Claudia- I'm guessing you might avoid the foods you're allergic to, but... as much as I WANT to say it counts, it doesn't count on the pickiness meter. I want to be an omnivore. I'm just... not.