mardi, février 13, 2007

Brussels! and Beef Heart

OK, beefheart first. I'm going over to a friend's place to make ceviche/cebiche and anticuchos. The ceviche I will make on the spot at her place (she's buying seabass for the occasion), but I needed to start the marinade for the anticuchos tonight. I'm making anticuchos de corazón (marinated heart skewers), so the first thing I needed to do was get a beef heart. At the open-air market this morning, I found everything else I needed (and even some stuff I didn't need), but no beef hearts. The closest thing was a few lamb hearts. They were tiny and cute (as cute as internal organs can be), but way too tiny. Besides, can you imagine trimming and de-veining a heart the size of your fist?

Anyway, I tried again after work, stopping off at a halal butcher shop near my place. Same story. I headed over to Belleville--Paris's china-maghreb-jewish-thai-vietnam-town. The store on the corner offered many other things I needed (bitter oranges, cilantro), but only pork hearts. Ew. Across the street, I walked into a very large butcher shop and asked the guy that looked like the owner. His answer: "Of course! How many do you need?" I was going to be feeding a group of people, so I was ready to order 2 or more, until I saw the hearts. These things were clearly cut from a freaking BULL. Each heart weighed 2 kilograms (about 4.5 lbs). I took one, and the butcher was nice enough to trim most of the fat off for me (although I later discovered he left the cartilaginous arteries in there).

Also, as I was arriving and leaving the Belleville métro stop, there were several groups of police officers stopping people on the street/in the métro station, demanding their immigration/citizenship papers. I hadn't witnessed a contrôle de papiers (paperwork check) since the first time I came to Paris as an exchange student in 1996, and I had forgotten how disturbing the sight can be. Although I realize that it's a part of immigration/border control, there's something sinister about going into "ethnic" neighborhoods on a busy day and ambushing anybody that looks Asian, African or Arab. I was spared the treatment (perhaps because I didn't fit those categories, perhaps because I was wearing the nice leather jacket my family got me for Xmas), which was good, since I had left my passport at home today. From now on, there will always be a photocopy of my passport on me.

So, I got home, dealt with a bunch of distractions, made some congee, and then got to preparing the beef heart. This thing is HUGE and I don't have much counter-space, so things were pretty awkward. Also, the veins on the outside of the heart were pretty hard, so I spent a lot of time carefully trimming them out. Also, the inside of the heart has all of these tendons that cross-cut the heart's chambers and help with the contractions of a beating heart. They're nasty and chewy, so I had to trim them out as well. Oh, and to top things off, this heart was DEFINITELY not halal; in other words, the blood hadn't been completely drained, which meant that there were dark little clots of blood lodged in all the chambers and veins, which I had to wash out. After nearly shredding the first few pieces in an attempt to trim them, I remembered a great trick: Take a slice of the heart, lay the side that you want to trim down on the board, press hard with your left hand, and slide the knife along the bottom, about 1-2mm from the cutting board. If the pressure is right and the blade very sharp, you should trim a very thin strip of tissue without wasting much of the edible meat.

Anyway, after cutting the heart into 1" cubes and throwing them into a large Ziploc bag, I added nearly an entire bottle of red wine vinegar, a bit of vegetable oil, a ton of cumin (more than a 1/4 cup, ground), some ají mirasol molido, some salt, and a whole head of finely chopped garlic. Mix, press out as much air as possible, stick in fridge overnight. Wash garlic stench from hands and clean beef blood from...well..everywhere.

And now, for something completely different. Pictures from Brussels!

The next few are all different views from the centre of the main square of Brussels. Gorgeous!





Unmistakably phallic!

Okay, now I'm kinda spent and just want to nap...

These were some of the first covered galleries in Europe

This was just an abandoned lot, but it stuck out among beautiful art-nouveau buildings.

I was particularly compelled by the brightly-coloured lightbulbs

This old art-nouveau store was turned into the museum of musical instruments.

On each balcony, they had a different example of musical notation

2 commentaires:

Erielle a dit…

Ha ha, you're skewering beef heart on Valentine's Day. That's awesome.

LMGM a dit…

Ha! I totally didn't even think of that. How cathartic!