La Cuisine Lyonnaise
Lyon and the Silk Tradition
La Cuisine Lyonnaise
Lyon is said to have more restaurants per capita than any other city in the world; no wonder that even other Frenchmen will
admit, “on mange bien à Lyon” (“you eat well in Lyon”).
Geography helps: the city stands at an agricultural crossroads, benefiting from prime beef from Charolles, wine from Beaujolais
and superb dairy products from the Dauphiné. The commercial fruit and vegetable gardens of France supply the freshest ingredients,
and better boulangers (bakers) and pâtissiers (cake-makers) than the Lyonnais are hard to find. Here you can spend happy hours
practicing the art of lèche-vitrines, literally “licking the windows,” but in reality window-shopping for food. Have a look
in the boucheries (butchers), traiteurs (delicatessens) like you've never seen before, and épiceries (grocer shops) piled
high with olive oil, vinegar, honey and jam. Afterward, go to the morning markets (except Monday) on the quai St.-Antoine
along the river and drool over the gleaming vegetables, glistening fish and mounds of fruit. Then you can find a restaurant
and eat - bon appetit!
Lyon has a long tradition of professional kitchens being managed by women, a legacy from times when all restaurants were family-run
and Maman (mother) did the cooking. Such restaurants, known as bouchons, still exist, and are usually small and friendly,
with visible kitchens. You can count on authentic Lyonnais dishes accompanied by straightforward wines, which are served in
small jugs called pots, holding a standard amount. Some restaurants are renowned, and it's often necessary to book ahead.
What should you eat? The cooking is classic French, with quality ingredients, subtle sauces, properly aged meat and perfectly
ripe cheeses. Boudin blanc, a veal sausage, is a specialty, as are quenelles, lighter-than-air poached fish dumplings served
with Lyon's classic crayfish-based sauce Nantua. Tripe, pigs' feet and brains may not be what you're used to, but try them.
Pommes Lyonnaises (potatoes fried with onions) are eaten worldwide, but try gratin dauphinois (potatoes baked in butter, cream,
garlic and mustard) as well. Leave room for a dessert, such as a luscious fruit tart; île flottante, a dish with floating
islands of meringue on a custard lake; sinful chocolate mousse; or the simplicity of fromage blanc - a fresh cream cheese
eaten with sugar and cream.