I had spent a pleasant time in Dieulefit, but it was time to push on in my Pink Lady. Lyon beckoned. The goal was to eat in a Bouchon, a typical Lyonnaise style restaurant.
While researching for a place to eat, I waded through a lot of videos about Lyonnaise cuisine on YouTube. What would we do without it? At some point, I stumbled across one with Mother Léa. My curiosity was awakened. This was rapidly becoming a journey of old-fashioned cooking, so I have to share with you the “Master Chef” as it was in the 1950s.
I have to say, I found the video really fascinating. It was such a simple way of cooking in those days, like our mothers and grandmothers at home. The ingredients are local and of good quality. It was also a perfectly natural way of cooking, whereas so many other modern videos are nothing more than show. Today, everything seems to be more about the person and less about the food. Style over substance rather than substance over style.
Mama Léa’s speciality was to cook “Tablier de Sapeur” and she had been doing it for ages. What was I in for?
It is the membrane of the rumen, which comes from the stomach of a cow. In Lyon, it is marinated in white wine, covered in breadcrumbs, and then fried. Traditionally, it comes with “Sauce Léa” which is made from mustard, egg yolks, salt, pepper and reduced in the liquid of eschalots in white wine. Then she simply added tarragon. She served it with boiled potatoes (without the skin) and the platter was decorated with salad, slices of tomato with an olive and lemon.
Although it is a well known dish in Lyon, I was overcome with a sense of trepidation; I am not really a fan of tripe or anything else that comes from the inside of an animal. But I did enjoy the haggis I had in Scotland for my Burns Night Supper, so, here goes. What does it matter if it’s a sheep or a cow?
And I recalled Geneviève telling me: “When I was a child, my grandmother bought this stomach lining and cooked it and served it with a vinaigrette (onions, garlic, parsley, chives, oil and vinegar). It looked like a honeycomb, but I can’t remember the taste.”
We pulled up near the restaurant, and I was rewarded with a view of the Basilique de Fourvières. It might be a distraction if the food and I disagree with each other.
The meal started conservatively enough with an “assiette of charcuteries” from Lyon. But I opted for the saucissons brioche, a salad and of course, baguette and some cornichons.
So far, so good. I had completed the first round and waited in anticipation of the fate that would befall me next.
When it arrived, it looked like I was going to eat a Wiener Schnitzel. The potatoes and the sauce were on the side. I gingerly cut a piece and found the texture to be a molten, crusty, spongy piece of meat. Surprisingly, it awakened my taste buds as I started eating it. Rather pleasant! No, actually, it was rather good! If Geneviève ate it as a child and Charles de Gaulle, who had the best chefs to hand, did as well, then it can’t be bad. I asked myself why cooking had changed so much over the years and how we had forgotten the simple things. I tucked in.
The plate was empty and I was stuffed! Bursting at the seams, I was! I had to give dessert a miss and needed to stretch my legs and let my stomach calm down again. I walked along the Saône and admired the Basilica towering on the hill on the opposite bank.
But you know what the problem with Lyon is? Too much bloody food! Too much temptation and a trap on every street corner. A pink façade hit me, of course it had to be pink, and behind the glass were sweet temptations in the form of a tart à la praline rose. Now, this is really, really wicked!
Basically, you have hazelnuts which are coated in pink sugar. The texture is really sweet and crunchy. It’s quite a challenge not to bite the combination and to let it melt in your mouth instead. But you only do that to the point when the sugar becomes soft. Then you bite strongly to release the final taste.
That’s the easy part. But the pâtisserie I was standing in front of, took it to a whole new level. They mixed the pralines together with a soft brioche dough. It was like drinking a full-bodied wine. The taste rushes around your mouth, looking for somewhere to go.
My knees buckled, my feet automatically moved forward, my brain gave up resisting, my hand automatically pulled out my purse, and my mouth said, “I need this.” I was no longer in control of my senses. We all went in and left happily carrying a package of heavenly delight.