Friday, November 25, 2011

My Dinner with Julian Barnes

Not really, but I had a lovely little intersection with Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending, which I'm about 3/4 the way through, on Thanksgiving.

I cooked this year for the first time in many years. The gathering of the family was going to be small (with a larger gathering on Friday), so I made a turkey breast. I ordered an organic turkey from D'artagnan, along with White Truffle Butter. You pull the skin away from the bird and slip medallions of the butter under it, to melt into the meat and flavor it, and it also flavors the au jus beautifully.

I finished doing that, then popped down to Penn Station to meet my mother. On the subway I continued read The Sense, where the narrator is going on about his ex-girlfriend Veronica and his ex-wife Margaret.

And so I read:

I said I wanted to get under her [Veronica] skin, didn't I? It's an odd expression, and one that always makes me think of Margaret's way of roasting chicken. She'd gently loosen the skin from the breast and thighs, then slip butter and herbs underneath. Perhaps some garlic as well, I'm not sure. I've never tried it myself, then or since; my fingers are too clumsy, and I imagine them ripping the skin.

Margaret told me of a French way of doing this which is even fancier. They put slices of black truffle under the skin . . .

Butter and truffles under the skin of a fowl: I had JUST done that very same thing. Art mirroring life on the #1 train on a holiday. One of the thrills of reading.


dorki said...

Butter-under-the-skin turkey. That does sound yummy, we might try that soon.

Somehow "get under her/his skin" always gave me the willies - sounds too creepy to me.

dave said...

synchronicity baby. Now my mouth is watering for truffle butter.

M.A.Peel said...

dorki, I couldn't find anything about the origin of the phrase. But the Brits use it in the negative, as in annoying someone, and Cole Porter turned that around with his "I've got you, under my skin" meaning I'm gaga about you.

David, you would have been very proud of me. I did a good job cooking, made fresh chestnut stuffing, and a salad of spinach leaves, beets, and roasted pignoli.