Fegato a la Veneziana

In Australian: Lamb’s fry (lamb’s liver) with onion and polenta. In Lyn’s version for dinner recently, no polenta, and the lamb’s fry was accompanied by onions and mushroom and mashed potato. An odd but workable mix.

Liver is offal, and offal is also called, especially in the United States, ‘variety meats’ or ‘organ meats’, according to the useful Wikipedia. Sounds nicer, doesn’t it? It has always been inexpensive (read ‘cheap’) and is so unfashionable now that a half kilo of lamb’s fry, one pound weight, costs only a couple of dollars from Glenfield Butchers in Glebe, Sydney. Good quality lamb cutlets can cost up to $42 per kilo, or ten times as much. Liver is high in iron.

Lyn and I recalled that while working in London in 1966 we (separately) were given a ‘luncheon voucher’ every day, a green, black and white slip of printed paper, a hangover from the food rationing of the war years. Worth five shillings and sixpence, a fiftieth of my weekly wage, it bought you a cup of tea and a dish of lamb’s fry and bacon, a filling lunch, at the local café.
Luncheon Vouchers
The vouchers were famously used as a form of payment in Cynthia Payne’s brothel in London during the 1970s. (Wikipedia) If only I had known!

I was in Venice for a month or so back in 1984 – did I have Fegato? I can’t remember. The bottled wine I bought I can remember: the light red, slightly sweet vino dei fragoli, ‘strawberry wine’, so called because it’s made from ‘strawberry’ grapes, which ripen unevenly and need to be plucked from the bunch one by one, leaving the green grapes behind. Or so my Sydney barber Sam Volpe says. That’s why there is no commercially available version of the wine, he opines: it is usually made from the grapes grown in someone’s backyard, and to obtain it outside the Veneto, you need to have some Italian friends who know an Italian neighbour who makes it. Ask around.

5 Replies to “Fegato a la Veneziana”

  1. Venice, March 1977: Early experience of the joys of Italian restaurants and cuisine — the ‘menu turistico’ offered us ‘Liver in Venetian Art’. Terrible waste of those lovely Bellini and Giorgione canvases … but man cannot live on bread alone!

  2. John,
    Perhaps I could interest you in some Ardeche recipes for stuffed pigs stomachs. Liver seems a luxury in comparison!

  3. You mean Andouille? Wikipedia:

    Andouille is a spiced, heavily smoked pork sausage, distinguished in some varieties by its use of the entire gastrointestinal system of the pig. For example, traditional French andouille is composed primarily of the intestines and stomach. Though somewhat similar, it is not to be confused with andouillette.

    I recall asking for Andouillette in a cafe in Paris once. The waiter, a courteous fellow, asked “Does Monseiur understand the Andouillette?” Indeed he does, I replied, and was given the thing. Unforgettable!

    Here’s an American blog entry:

    Catherine | February 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Reply

    I guess this kind of sausage is not for everyone’s palate or nostrils as it is quite odorous but there is no needs for all of these insults. I would do anything to have some right now. It is one of my favorite things to eat (not easy to get in the US) along with it’s American cousin the chitterlings. I have 15 lbs of chitterlings in my freezer right now and a recipe to make my own Andouillettes. I plan on making them in the spring with the help of my mother, outdoors of course as I do not want my house to smell. I hope I am successful for we shall feast.

    Go for it.

  4. John, haven’t you forgotten the parsley? I learned Fegato alla Veneziana from Claudia Roden’s wonderful book The Food of Italy and, according to her, once the liver is cooked you take it off the heat and stir in a good handful of the chopped herbage. It really does lift the whole thing. Lamb’s liver (chopped into 1 cm or 2cm lumps) is also great slowly braised in red wine with onions and garlic and served with spaghetti.

    Peter Robinson’s comical menu reminds me of a similar experience in Warsaw where we were offered ‘middle class roast’. After some thought, that was pretty obvious: beouf bourgeois. But I never have been able to work out what the dessert was supposed to be: ‘yellow and green desiring cream’? (Didn’t order it so can’t say.)

  5. Thanks for that: next time, parsley. Your Warsaw story reminds me: My wife Lyn and I were eating in a restaurant in Prague when a dish went by the had a large bone sticking out of it. “It looks like half a horse,” said Lyn, “though you can’t tell which half.” The menu had a section titled “Beastly Meats”… I guess that’s where it had come from.

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