British queen to feast on offal

By Venkata Vemuri, IANS,

London : Can you offer the British queen offal for dinner – to be precise animal brain and testicles? That’s just what the monarch will have on a platter Thursday, courtesy a maverick chef.

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Three star Michelin chef Heston Blumenthal, whose cuisine is as weird as it is tasty, will cook at Windsor Castle for the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and their friends.

Blumenthal, who has built his reputation with dishes such as snail porridge, has already completed a trial run of the menu which has been tasted by the queen’s chefs and declared a success, according to the Daily Mail.

The starter is composed to look like a bowl of fruit but is in fact made up of sweetbreads and assorted offal, including brain and testicles. Sweetbreads are made from the thymus glands or pancreas of young calves or lambs. The evening’s main course will be baked salmon accompanied with glazed vegetables and followed by strawberry gateau with cream on the side.

It is understood that the queen watched Blumenthal, 44, demonstrate his strange cooking techniques two years ago and wanted to taste it herself.

Blumenthal owns his own award-winning restaurant, The Fat Duck, in Berkshire, England. He considers the restaurant a science lab as he uses chemistry to create unusual dishes like sardines on toasted ice cream.

It actually takes some nerve to enter the Fat Duck. For instance, in a corner there is a big water bath kitted out with mechanical stirrer and temperature gauge. It all looks very scientific. Until, peering over the edge of the water bath, the contents loom into view: vacuum-packed pigs’ heads. Whole. Cooking slowly, at precisely 60°C.

Blumenthal is interested in the science behind cooking and what affects people’s experiences of eating. Using rigorous scientific method he has developed some outlandish-sounding recipes based on sound chemical principles like caviar and white chocolate or a recipe with fir tree, green peppercorn and mango as the main ingredients.

Visitors to The Fat Duck are given a mousse ‘poached’ at the table in liquid nitrogen. Looking like a tiny meringue, this frozen puffball pops and melts in the mouth. Why? Diners coming for the Fat Duck’s expensive eating experience (the tasting menu costs &pound97.50) often turn up having just brushed their teeth, smoked a cigarette, or drunk strong alcohol. Their mouths aren’t properly equipped to appreciate what they are about to eat. So a palate cleanser was invented.

This dish was conceived as a palate cleanser to remove any residual tastes from the guest’s mouth. The polyphenols in the green tea were selected to be breath cleansing, acidity from the lime juice and the malic acid are mouthwatering, and alcohol from the vodka disperses fat and enhances flavour perception.

Blumenthal continues exploring the psychology of taste. He is working with Edmund Rolls, a leading expert on the world of mind and basic emotion, at Oxford University.

Blumenthal explains that his unusual chemical combinations might not always be well received, but by joining chemistry, psychology and cooking, he might be able to get around peoples’ preconceptions. Will the queen agree?