“Culinary research intersects with tradition in this book which is as iconoclastic as Martin Picard's world famous cuisine. Mixing genres and styles, just like this chef does in his kitchen, the book offers a touch of literature, a smattering of sexy images together with scientific information and cutting-edge gastronomical research.”
This, you will realize, is not my own flowing prose, but rather the publisher’s blurb for Martin Picard’s Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack, a food book rather than a cookbook I think, “dedicated to maple syrup”: 386 pages, 100 recipes, 2000 photographs, yours for $69.99. A mere bagatelle by Nathan Myhrvold standards.
Martin Picard, that's him above, is the genius behind Au Pied de Cochon, a restaurant in Montreal, which seems to have just about everything I’ve ever wanted in a restaurant, and more foie gras than I personally could ever possibly need. The menu contains Boudin Maison, Tarte de boudin, Côte de cochon heureux, Pied de cochon, Tête fromagée, (and that’s just part of the “cochon” section). There’s also poutine, and the spectacular and much lauded “Canard en conserve” or as we Anglophones say “duck in a can,” which comes with preserved pork sausage, whole garlic cloves, a balsamic glaze and, inevitably, a whole lot more foie gras.
This is some very fancy duck and the fact that it’s in a can is a sort of double bluff. But in fact the first game of any sort that I ever ate came in a can – it was a tinned pheasant, bought in Walsh’s, what was then Sheffield’s poshest department store, with a food section that at the time seemed exotic beyond all imagining. I’m not saying it was the best pheasant I ever ate, but in Sheffield at that time I honestly didn’t know how else to get any.
Since Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack is dedicated to maple syrup, it does contain the above photograph by Marie-Claude St-Pierre, which if nothing else makes me wish I liked maple syrup more than I do. A woman sitting in a bath of boudin – now that would get the salivary glands moving.