My dear uncle André (great-uncle actually) passed away last week. He was 87. He was a single gentleman and didn’t have kids. He had a grand total of 33 nephews and nieces though and really was like a father for all of us.
We all gathered once a year for his birthday party. He always asked me to cook, and it was quite a lot of work, but I didn’t mind a bit. André wasn’t a foodie anyway. He’d been happy with cold cuts and potato chips. He always wanted everything to be perfect for us though, so I’d build very sophisticated menus every time. Lobster, foie gras, filet mignon, cheeses from all over France and lots of different kinds of cakes… I don’t bake as you know, so I’d get the cakes from the best pastry shop in town… He used to be a wine merchant, so he always made it a point to serve the best possible wine with every dish: Petrus, Latour, Yquem…
When I say he couldn’t care less about food, there were two major exceptions: one was foie gras (his side of the family was from the Dordogne) and the other was persillade (parsley/garlic/butter sauce). You could make him eat just about anything as long as there was persillade on top of it. Nobody really likes escargots, it’s all about the persillade!
On Sunday, I made a simple meal for myself in his honor: fresh scallops with persillade.
In France, scallops can only be fished from October to April. Even then, fishing is only allowed two days a week for 45 minutes. So it is the hight of the scallop season right now and they are absolutely gorgeous. As I think I had mentioned to you before, we eat scallops with their coral. It has an interesting texture (similar to sweat breads) and a nutty flavor I quite like. It’s vermilion/orange color is also quite pleasing to the eye…
I simply sear my scallops to a golden brown (about one minute on each side on medium to high heat) and then dump my persillade on top. I also like to add a bit of lemon juice to give it an extra kick. To die for!! Note that scallops are like calamari: they have to be cooked quickly so they don’t feel like rubber in your mouth. Some people slice them in half before cooking them. I don’t because they end up being thoroughly cooked before they have enough time to brown on the outside.
Going back to uncle André, we had already started planning for his next birthday. Yet another reminder that we should always live today as if it were our last…
I was going through pictures to illustrate this post and came across one of our dirty dishes from the last birthday party. It made me cry. It made me cry hard. The end of a meal. The “end” of a life full of love and laughter. What a beautiful symbol a few plates can become!
And what a powerful “FUCK YOU” (excuse my French) to the Paris and Beirut terrorists too! No gentlemen, you won’t kill our joie de vivre. Not too many virgins in my French heaven, but still close to perfect, I promise!
Look, uncle André is laughing at you idiots!