Monday, April 10, 2006

Carnage in the Kitchen: Doorknobs Optional

This post is long overdue, and in fact I can’t believe I haven’t shared this with the World at Large because it’s really quite good.

So for my birthday, someone (hi there!) got me a DVD of the Best of Julia Child’s The French Chef. As many of you know, I freakin’ LOVE Julia Child. I mean, I LOVE her. SERIOUSLY. Well it took me a while to sit down and watch some of the episodes, but during my week off a while back, I made the time. I started with a swordfish episode that seemed innocent enough. Then I watched a roast goose. And then I selected the “Roast Suckling Pig” episode. Which was, my friends, one of the most horrific and traumatizing and terrifying and also hilarious things I have witnessed in my lifetime.

For one, it’s easy to forget the fact that a “suckling pig” is basically a baby piglet until you see it right there on screen with its baby pig ears and face and pink little tail and hooves and all of that. Ideally, Julia recommends that the pig should not yet be weaned from its mother’s milk; otherwise the flesh apparently takes on a whole different flavor. This gave me a bad case of the shivers, and not in a good way.

The hilarious part comes from the fact that 6 foot-2 Julia Child is patting a baby piglet’s behind and warbling in that trademark voice of hers about how to prepare a 12-pound suckling pig as though it were the most natural, normal thing in the world. She makes it sound not any different from mixing up a batch of Toll House cookies.

Next up, Julia advises, in her Julia Child voice, to start off by shaving any hairs off of the piglet’s face and snout. That’s right, you should SHAVE YOUR DINNER’S FACE. You should also take time to brush its teeth too. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Then, after you get it oiled up and stuffed with veggies (a process that was so barbaric and hideous I can’t even talk about it)… Wait. I have to talk about that step. Because when Julia Child stitches up the baby piglet’s belly (as you might, with a chicken, for example), she doesn’t just use a trussing needle and string. Oh no, friends. She uses 3-INCH METAL FINISHING NAILS, like the kind a carpenter (or an S & M dominatrix?) might have handy, to keep the baby piglet’s belly shut.

And the carnage isn’t done yet. Oh NO. The final step before roasting is to place an object into the piglet’s mouth during cooking so that it can stay open for the decorative apple that it customarily placed in its jaws. So what does she recommend? Not a potato (they get mushy). You could use a wadded up ball of aluminum foil, as Julia does there. Or, she advises, you could also use (a) a block of wood or (b) a doorknob, if you have one handy.

Let me repeat that. OR A DOORKNOB, if you have one handy. After you shave your baby piglet’s face, brush its teeth, stuff its belly and close it with metal nails, you should put a DOORKNOB in its jaws. I swear to God I was not on drugs when I watched this episode. In fact, several people watched it with me and none of THEM were on drugs. Instead there was a group of us, some of whom were total strangers, unable to turn away and writhing on the floor in horror and fascination and hilarity at the totally in-freakin’-sane dish that Julia was preparing. Which is more of a reaction that I can say I got the last time I made Toll House cookies.

Lesson learned: Julia Child kicks some major ass. You just have to have the stomach to watch her do it.

1 comment:

Dave said...

"That’s right, you should SHAVE YOUR DINNER’S FACE."

That's the first time anything you've written here has made me laugh out loud, except maybe the "why I hate eels" post. May I use that as a sig-line sometime?