I can’t really remember the rest of the meal as it pales into insignificance, only one part of this meal features, only one part is ingrained in my memory and may unfortunately taint my memories of the supposed superior French cuisine – the pork pâté.
As I have mentioned before, I was brought up to not be a fussy eater, to try most things and above all not to complain and to be polite. By and large this hasn’t been too hard as I like most food, in fact I like trying new things but this pâté didn’t look good. It was a kind of pinkish, grey colour and covered in grey jelly. Pate comes in many forms but imagine if you will a kind of slimy, grey cat food, something if you poke back and forth enough, you're left with a sticky, congealed mess. But being well brought up and after just a little poke, I tried it. It was hard not to gag, it was hard to swallow even. Despite its jelly-like appearance and slimy disposition it was primarily gristle - in other words, tough elastic tissue.
As I said there aren’t many food I don’t like or won’t at least try apart from internal organs (I know what pate is made from but it doesn’t look like an internal organ) and there are few foods that have invoked total disgust from me apart from the time I discovered what soft cod’s roe actually is. At this point I should ask, do many humans really eat other species’ semen on toast? Is this common or is it just me that thinks this just slightly outside normal? And is there a deep seated reason for this, are we actively trying to make cod extinct? I have heard that cod in waters around the UK will become extinct unless we ensure that enough cod of breeding age are protected. Well, we are hardly protecting them if we are now eating their actual semen. Still, the cod are fighting back; indeed researchers have found that cod in the Icelandic fishery are becoming sexually mature while still smaller and younger. But soft cod’s roe aside, this pâté was beyond disgusting.
As humans the core response of disgust is both instinctual and learned. My initial feeling was instinctive because I didn’t know at that point what it actually was. No, something wasn’t right with that pâté and luckily, luckily so that I could preserve my manners and my Englishness I didn’t find out until I had finished that the pâté had been proudly made by my host’s grandmother from the testicles, brains and hooves of her own pigs. How did I hide it? How did I not vomit on the spot? That I will never know.