“How about wild boar’s head?” he said, “we’ve still got one in the freezer. “ I stopped rifling through the cook book and stared at him, horrified. “What for New Year’s Eve? You must be joking.” He looked hurt. “I’ll cook it outside” he said and I remembered the smell. It needed boiling for several hours and last time had perfumed the house with the delicate fragrance of simmering bicycle tyres. It also resembled something that belonged on the set of Saw 4.
“Jamais de la vie!” I said, before returning my attention back to my recipes, thinking about last year’s New Year’s Eve fiasco. Instead of spending the 31st December at a bash in the village as planned, we had seen midnight come and go in the sheep barn in the midst of an early lambing season. I still had visions of my midwife husband kneeling in the hay in his blue overalls, one arm buried up to the elbow in the back end of a sheep as I wished him a happy New Year.
This year, instead of going out, we had decided to play it safe and invite a few friends over. (Un)fortunately, the friends in question happen to be enthusiastic amateur chefs, and if Michelin stars could be awarded to home cooks they would already have 3 each, plus bonus points. I wanted to impress them and serve something that was delicate, sophisticated and exquisitely presented. To my mind, this excluded lumps of boiled snout coated in eggs and garlic.
I sighed and gave up, snapping the book shut. I hated cooking and was lousy at it and I knew that when the time came, our companions would probably descend on my kitchen with armfuls of exotic ingredients and a thousand ideas for transforming them.
My husband had a far-away look in his eyes, as though he was mentally devouring freshly hunted wild boar’s head in some distant corner of his brain. I felt bad. “Look” I conceded “even if we don’t eat la tête de sanglier on New Year’s Eve, I’m sure they’ll come back again the day after to finish up the leftovers. Why don’t you cook it the next morning?”
“No” he said, giving me a sheepish grin “I probably won’t feel up to it then.”