Jan 27, 2017

Five A's that I Give an F: Pommeau


The Friendly Association of Authentic Andouillette Lovers (known in French as the Association Amicale des Amateurs d'Andouillette Authentique -- or better yet, AAAAA or 5A) will clearly beg to differ with me, but authentic 5A andouillette is the closest thing to a teenage boy's gym sock that I ever want to smell or eat. And I'm a person who eats maggot-covered stinky French cheese for fun.

In the photo above, you're probably most frightened of the bright red sausage and assume that's the one I'm talking about. No, not  at all. That's a regular old pork sausage/salami sort of thing. It might have a little kick to it, but very little; this is France, after all. It is certainly fattier and greasier than I like, but it's not the dreaded andouillette. You see those unassuming gray-brown rounds, with a dark perimeter? The slices with the turquoise tropical umbrella jauntily planted in them? That's what you need to watch out for. If you're unsure in the photo, just know that it will be easier to spot it in real life, because your nose knows and will warn you as soon as you approach the table, let alone get the actual piece of sausage anywhere near your mouth.


Anthony, our family's favorite "flexitarian" (that is an often-vegan who's a sometimes-vegetarian and occasional meat-eater), likes to order the most bizarre form of meat available whenever he gets to a new place ("Blood sausage? I'm there..."). It's partly a sense of adventure, and partly, I'm convinced, his perverse sense of humor and an attempt to disgust the rest of us at the table. But even he says the 5A Andouille was a step too far. He ordered it once, a few weeks after we moved to France five years ago and -- here's the really telling part -- has never ordered it again.

Normally made of pork, and pig intestines, it used to be more commonly made from veal. No matter which, there are always animal parts involved that I don't actually want to know about, even if I don't plan to eat it. As of a 1905 law, and a 1912 update, it's illegal to sell as "andouilles", "andouillettes", "boudin [blood sausage]", "galantine", "head cheese", or "hure" any preparation other than made from pork, beef, veal, or mutton mixed with milk, eggs, spices, onions, and "aromatics". They're aromatic all right. But you will probably not ever see it labeled anything other than andouille or andouillettes here in France.

Whatever you want to call it, this is my favorite way to deal with andouillettes: hermetically sealed in plastic.


Pommeau is another version of a Coeur du Camembert au Calvados. It's a thicker, creamier, less crusty version made by Pascal Beillevaire and sold at his high-end cheese shops. That makes is a raw cows' milk cheese made in the style of a Camembert, soaked in Calvados (apple liqueur made in Camembert country) and then coated in bread crumbs.

Like the cheese after which it is modeled, the Pommeau has a complex sweet, pungent, powerful taste from the alcohol as well as the cheese. The bread crumbs absorb the flavor, help hold the cheese together in shape, replace the crust, and give a little texture to the creamy cheese. If you think regular Camembert stinks, just wait till you get your nose in this one.


This round, messy looking cheese reeks up your house, and reeks it up good. So does 5A andouillette sausage. I, personally, would rather eat the cheese. Now that I've tried the andoillette, I have bragging rights for life and can honestly say I tried it with an open mind (but plugged nose).


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