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" long as it's not an organ meat"?

Does Rick Steves just dislike organ meat, or is there a safety consideration or other reason that he counsels against ordering it?

He advises: "Wherever you dine, consider the waiter's recommendations and anything de la maison (of the house), as long as it's not an organ meat (tripe, rognons, or andouillette)." (Loc 21950 on Kindle, in the Practicalities chapter, Rick Steves France 2019.)

As an adventuresome eater who would otherwise be up for trying any of those, I'd love to know whether Rick Steves is just being personally squeamish, in which case I'll feel free to ignore him on this point? Or is there a better reason that he's advising against them here?

Posted by
10287 posts

Despite years living in France, I’ve never heard of any reason to avoid organ meat. My French father-in-law loved kidneys in mustard sauce. And as janet said, sweetbreads are delicious.
Edit: except if you are pregnant—but I don’t think that applies to Rick.

Posted by
2252 posts

Ummmm....kidneys, heart, sweetbreads, liver. I will eat just about anything-except eggplant! That said, I did try it in Sicily, loved it, ate it everywhere but couldn't quite get it down when I came home.....can't figure it out so maybe I should just go back to Sicily?😉

Posted by
1025 posts

I think it's a joke. There's an old comic out there showing the little boy telling his mother, "No more organ meat, Mom!"

No thanks on the andouillette. I am contemplating some tripe and some rigatoni e pajeta on this year's visit to Rome, however.

Posted by
2261 posts

Beef kidneys at Bistro Paul Bert, served with large pasta shells which had the mustard sauce on them, not on the kidneys-fantastic.

We've got to know when to ignore Rick....

Posted by
8582 posts

Perhaps he was just trying to make a little joke.

Although it seems several people have written in to the forum being caught unaware of what those things were.

But organs like liver and kidneys are what filter out bad stuff like toxins and contaminants, so could in fact accumulate things.

Posted by
16894 posts

I consider that just a tongue-in-cheek way to remind you that it very well may be organ meat, so that you don't blindly accept something you don't actually want to try. In other parts of the book, and on many menus, you'll find an abundance of duck gizzard salads, foie gras, sweetbreads, etc.

I recently had a calf's liver lunch special in Paris that was not really my first choice, but was the best value, so no regrets. After years of avoiding it, I tried to order andouilette for lunch one day in Provence, but the waiter basically told me not to, so I was able to enjoy something else "guilt free."

Posted by
1025 posts

Not to get too graphic, but Genghis Kahn's forces were self contained, living off the land. One of the reasons they were so effective is that they weren't very squeamish, and would eat, among other foods, horse intestines which were stunningly close to the exit point. That's kind of what andouillette are...

Posted by
489 posts

Let me pile on the andouillette-is-awful anecdotes.
I don't consider myself particularly squeamish and I actually like andouille, so I thought I was in for a treat trying andouillette in Lyon. Unlike Laura's waiter, my waiter congratulated me on making a good local-favorite choice.

It looked gross and smelled very unpleasant. I plowed ahead using emma's attitude - "Well the french seem to be surviving". When I cut it open, the smell got much more repugnant. I dutifully ate three or four bites before surrendering and moving the plate as far away as I could. I don't have a very good sense of smell but that aroma stayed with with me for hours. With very little effort, I could even conjure it up the next day. It remains by far the most nauseating thing I have ever eaten.

Posted by
12172 posts

Rick caters to a particular audience of travelers with not much time or travel experience. I think it's valuable to read and consider, but not slavishly follow, his advice.

His advice probably caters to the many Americans who aren't adventurous eaters. Some things will be unpleasant surprises so I think Rick is trying to give good general advice.

My rule when traveling is to eat local foods that I probably won't eat at home. I'm not picky so some things that may be considered a dining disaster are, for me, no worse than "interesting".

I think Rick should counsel people to eat anything on the menu, especially if they don't know what it is. Years later, that will be what everyone remembers and laughs about.

Posted by
2916 posts

would eat, among other foods, horse intestines which were stunningly close to the exit point. That's kind of what andouillette are

A good explanation. Despite having been repulsed by the andouillette I ordered many years ago, I made the mistake last year of again ordering it, thinking that because it was duck, it might not be as disgusting. But it was. I did finish it, with a little help from our friend's dog.

Posted by
557 posts

On the subject of andouillette, does anyone know if there's a relatively casual way of trying a small portion in Paris? The reason I ask is that I'm curious to try (I'd like to think I'm a very adventurous eater), but I'm a little worried about committing to an entire plate of it at a restaurant and then having to give up after a couple bites -- if it turns out I don't like it it will be a waste of both the food and of the money.

Posted by
489 posts

That makes me wonder if andouillette might be a little different depending on where it's being prepared and served? That seems likely to me.
I hope (a) you get to try it and (b) you like it.

Posted by
14580 posts

In France (or Germany for that matter) I have no problems eating tripe, (beef or pork), rognons, tongue, head cheese, etc, or on those super rare occasions having a steak still pink.

What RS says on "organ meat" is unimportant, irrelevant.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for all the input! Sounds like Rick Steves was just being ha-ha-isn't-offal-yucky, not actually giving advice that I should take to heart. It's also good to know that andouillette may be more challenging than I'm up for, even though I'm ready to try most other offerings. Thanks again!

Posted by
6352 posts

Don't confuse andouillette and andouille. Totally different sausages. I cheerfully eat almost anything that doesn't actually make me sick (there are a few of those) but andouillette is one I doubt I will ever order again. I had it at a nice bistro in Paris, near Rue Cler. I did manage to eat it all, but only because I asked for, and got, extra helpings of a truly amazing mustard sauce that was served with it.

Some day I'm going to try to recreate that sauce. My best guess is good brown mustard, créme fraîche, and tarragon. Salt, probably.
It would be amazing on bratwurst or corned beef.

Posted by
492 posts

Don't confuse andouillette and andouille. Totally different sausages.

Funny you mention that. As I first started reading through this thread and saw people describe andouillette, I started thinking to myself, "Wait... I've eaten andouille many times... does that mean...?" and felt mildly concerned! A quick Google search put my mind and tummy at ease ;) Though I suppose if I'd been eating em this whole time, now would be a bit late to start getting bothered by it!