Salade Lyonnaise for Mastering the Art of French Eating

Here's a memoir you might enjoy, even if you aren't a Francophile, which I'm certainly not -  Mastering the Art of French Eating, by Ann Mah.  Lots of super food ideas and mentions!   I had already read and loved two of her other books, The Lost Vintage, and Kitchen Chinese, Mah's debut memoir.

Ann's husband is called away on a diplomatic assignment to Iraq, for a year - no spouses allowed - after being first assigned to Paris, their dream come true. She must get over her disappointment, and as an aid to that, as well as her almost overwhelming loneliness, while he is away, she takes side trips to various of the French regions.  The idea being to feature a specific, representative dish from each area, interview chefs, farmers, marketers and French foodies for an article or book. As Dorie Greenspan remarks, "feasting through France with Ann Mah is a delicious adventure."  

I did think she went on over much about missing her husband, but hey, it's truth and a memoir.  She coped well, meeting new people via her craft of writing and interest in food; getting to know these people, not only their representative foods, but their culture, interests and unique personalities.  She discovers that the French are very serious about their meals.  Lunch is not meant to be carelessly consumed at one's desk, or food eaten whilst walking along the street.  I can only imagine what they would think of eating while driving.  Quel Horreur!

From the Publishers: "The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time
When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down.

So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city. Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.

Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France."

There was so much to choose from as far as inspiring dishes. Everything from Steak Frites to Soupe au Pistou.   Where to begin was the problem.  Well, as it turns out, I was in the mood for a good, different sort of salad.  One that would make a suitable light dinner on its own.  So, Salade Lyonnaise was the answer!  This was Mah's selection for Lyon, considered the capital of French gastronomy.  What's not to love?  Bacon, soft cooked eggs, garlic toasted croutons, fresh greens??

Salade Lyonnaise
   from  Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah
4 Servings

2 heads frisee lettuce or if in season, 2 bunches of dandelion greens (I used a mixed bag of herbs and greens, which included both frisee and dandelion)
1/4 lb. bacon bacon
Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
4 slices pain de campagne or rustic sourdough bread
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 eggs, at room temperature

Wash, sort, and dry the lettuce.  If using dandelion leaves, remove the hard stems and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces.  Cut the bacon into lardons, or 1/4 inch thick matchsticks.  Prepare the vinaigrette.  Lightly toast the bread and rub one side with a clove of garlic.  Cut the bread into 1/2 inch cubes for croutons.

To prepare the coddled eggs, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Lower the eggs gently into the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, adding 30 seconds if your eggs are jumbo.  Drain immediately and run cold water into the pan to stop the cooking and to cool the eggs enough to handle.  Gently crack and peel the eggs, taking care not to tear the white - the yolk should still be runny.  Rinse to wash away any bits of shell.

In a frying pan over medium high heat, cook the lardons until they start to crisp and most of their fat has rendered.  Remove them from pan and set aside.  With the flat side of a chef's knife, lightly crush the remaining clove of garlic.  Add it to the remaining bacon fat in the pan with the bread, turning the cubes so that they are lightly toasted on all sides.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the vinaigrette.  Scatter the croutons and bacon over the salad.  Arrange the eggs on top and serve family style.

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teas. Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons mild tasting oil, such as olive or canola
salt and pepper to taste

In a small, lidded jar add the ingredients, shaking to combine.  Taste with a piece of lettuce for salt and pepper, adding extra as needed, though not too much, given the saltiness of the salad's other ingredients.

We scraped our plates clean on this one.  Very tasty.  A light supper though, so you may want to serve some fish or a small steak alongside, depending on your appetites. I'll serve this up as my contribution for Simona's current Novel Food Event, with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, and at Heather's Foodies Read Challenge for October.  Be sure to visit for some tasty food and book recommendations.


gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

Sounds like an interesting story and lovely salad! Thanks for the review-

Deb in Hawaii said...

This one is in my TBR stack because I enjoyed The Lost Vintage. Your salad looks delicious. There's nothing better than a jammy egg. ;-)

Carole said...

Now ordered from the library. Thanks!

Mae Travels said...

That's a classic salad as served in French cafés and bistros, the ones that serve all day and not just at meal times. I think it's as well-known there as salade nicçoise which is much more famous here. Nice review!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Beth F said...

I'm pretty sure I have a copy of this -- must track it down. I'm SOOOO craving salad. It's one of things that has suffered on our current trip. I can't wait to get back to my own kitchen.

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

I think I will add this to my TBR pile. Thanks.

Debra Eliotseats said...

Putting this on my to-read list. I love the salad you chose. That vinaigrette would become a go-to one around here.

Simona Carini said...

Food to go is also not part of the Italian approach to eating. On the other hand, we usually don't sit down for espresso or cappuccino, but drink them standing at the counter. An interesting way of keeping oneself busy while waiting to be reunited with one's spouse. I had never heard of this salad before, so thank you for choosing this recipe to feature. I am intrigued by the coddled eggs and can't wait to try them (I like my yolk running). Thank you so much for contributing to Novel Food :)

Ali said...

This looks so wonderful! I love a good salad. Just ordered the book - it’s on my list for holiday break reading. :)