“Would you like to taste the nostrils?” inquired my brother-in-law politely, holding the plate towards me, his eyes gleaming in anticipation. I refused to be baited, took the dish and handed it down the table. As it went past I caught a glimpse of something round and shiny with two glistening orifices. “Don’t listen to him” said my husband, helping himself to a glutinous piece of meat half-way between the snout and the ears “They’re only for decoration anyway.”
I risked another look. Most parts of the wild boar’s head seemed to be present on the stainless-steel plate, only the eyeballs were noticeable by their absence and I didn’t like to ask what had happened to those. The head, from what I could work out seemed to vary in consistency from a tender, but stringy type of meat to a grey, sponge-like, fatty substance. My helping had tended towards the latter and I had covered it with plenty of the accompanying garlic and egg sauce. Unfortunately, the sauce had masked the taste, but not the texture and I had taken one mouthful before heaping the rest onto my husband’s plate.
I watched him tuck in and he muttered something about how he’d happily travel 300 kms to eat it. The rest of his family all nodded in agreement and I wished I could say the same, but although it possessed a delicate flavour, I found la tête de sanglier less and less palatable each time I tried it. Coming over to eat at my parents-in-law in the middle of the hunting season was always a gamble. Their freezer tended to be stuffed full of strange creatures, all of which needed an inordinate amount of cooking to render them edible. They must have boiled the head in the garage I thought, as there had definitely been no hint of the smell in the farmhouse when I had come in earlier.
Just as I was wondering what the main course would be, my mother-in-law appeared from the kitchen with a large casserole dish. She set it down on the table and I shot a discreet glance at its contents, before sitting back, relieved.
There would be no sly comments this time, I thought. It would, after all, be difficult finding the nostrils on a jugged hare.