Why? For the love of god why would anyone want to gorge on slimy amphibians? Despite the off-putting outside appearance they are actually extremely tasty. I began my love affair with frogs many years ago at the tender age of 6. We used to visit a restaurant called La Catogne in the valley below the Verbier in Switzerland. I vaguely remember ordering them out of child like curiosity: frogs? You can eat frogs?!
They were served in the most mouth watering of methods, pan-fried in Garlic,Vin Blanc, Parsley, butter and lemon juice. I was hooked. The dainty little drumsticks of the lower part of the leg were eaten with fingers which were greedily sucked clean after- I never understood what the bowl of warm water with the slice of lemon was for, my parents had to stop me from drinking it...
My obsession became a running joke for my parents social occasions where they would ask me in front of their guests:
"Nicholas, if you could have anything to eat in the world, what would it be?"
"Frog's Legs! Frog's Legs!"
I have never come across Frog's legs for sale in England, out here in France you can purchase a huge bag of frozen ones from most the the mupersarket for about £5. So that was one of the first things I did when I arrived.
I threatened to serve them to Clare's new buddies which they seemed less than enthusiastic about (likewise with the duck hearts) until one, Sorcha (who has a superb blog on art and all sorts: click here) seemed game. Clare was all for them too, I had managed to convert her a long time ago, though snails are still strictly off limits.
So when and why did people first take to the eating the hopping little critters? Evidence suggests that they were first consumed in China as early as 1st century AD (no surprise there). The Romans, who were great advocates of the snail, that other pinnacle of French gastronomic bizarreness, left amphibians well alone. The first mention of Frog's legs in Europe appears in the 12th century in the annals of the Catholic church, weirdly enough: in France.
To prevent monks from becoming too porky, the church decreed that meat could only be eaten on a certain numbers of days a year. The monks classified frogs as fish (which didn't count as meat) because they too lived in the drink. This way the monks were able to gorge on "fish" and exercised their podgy fat fingers religiously, eating frogs. The French peasants soon caught on to this relatively new source of protein and the French confirmed their world wide alias, that wouldn't appear until sometime later in the 16th century...Frogs.
Frogs legs enjoyed a brief popularity in the UK at the turn of the 20th century. Escoffier cooked up "Cuisses de Nymphe a l'Aurore" (thighs of the dawn nymphs) in honour of the Prince of Wales at the Savoy in 1908. They became all the rage amongst high ranking socialites until their popularity came to a sudden end, probably due to lack of the raw material. Today, frog's legs travel under the slightly less elaborate pseudonym: Cuilles de Grenouille, literally "Frog's legs".
So how do you make them edible?
Cuisses de Grenouille: (Serves 2-4 depending on the size of your guest's balls)
500g of Frog's legs (defrosted)
50g of butter
2 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
A handful of Parsley (finely chopped)
a splash of white wine
half a Lemon
Salt and pepper
Heat up a non stick pan with a little olive oil in, until searingly hot and add half the butter, the frog's legs, half the garlic and a few twists of salt and pepper. They need about 7-8 minutes on each side until lightly browned, give them a little shuffle in the pan from time to time.
When you go to flip over the frog's legs, add the rest of the butter, garlic and parsley and leave to cook for 4 minutes. For the final flourish and last 2-3 minutes of cooking pour in a splash of white wine and a squeeze of lemon.
Serve as a starter on top of a few slices of french stick or with rice as a main.
What else has been going on? the new desk is much better than the old one, last week while applying the final touches to "The Treehouse Diaries" I got to watch a bunch of French nutters being towed into 25ft waves with Jetskis...absolute madness, but great entertainment for the easily distracted writer:
The book writing is complete and I am planning to do a Christmas blog from up in the Mountains this year...after a 14 hour train ride to the alps! I'm hoping to chuck in a post later this week on a valuable snack food I have been enjoying out here: Artichokes. It had been nice and warm out here up until the weekend, now the temperature has dropped...it's bloody freezing! The strangest thing about being here is that there is absolutely no indication that Christmas is 8 days away...still got to do that christmas shopping.