Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dorade Coryphène – The Pompano Dolphin Fish on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Pompano Dolphin
Coryphène, Dorade Coryphène, Chatrou, Mahé-Mahé – The Pompano
Dolphin Fish; a close relative to the Common Dolphin Fish. The pompano dolphin fish, is caught worldwide in tropical and semi-tropical seas, but its name should not confuse the diner with real dolphins which are mammals; these are 100% fish.  Dolphin fish have very tasty white meat and that makes them very popular. For France’s mainland market the pompano dolphin fish is caught in the Mediterranean and may be on the menu as a daily special; frozen imported fillets are also on sale in supermarkets. This is the fish often called, in the USA, by its Hawaiian name the Mahi Mahi.

A school of pompano dolphin fish
Photograph courtesy of
The pompano dolphin fish pictured above is the smaller of the two most famous dolphin fish. Despite being the smaller member of the family, it can still reach over one meter in length though most are caught weighing between 7 and 10 kilos.

The pompano dolphin fish.
Dorade Coryphène au Coulis de Poivrons Doux  - The Pompano Dolphinfish served with a purée of sweet peppers.

Dos de Dorade Coryphène aux Épices – A large cut from the pompano dolphin fish prepared with spices. French cuisine is rarely very spicy, but, if you are concerned, ask.

Le Pavé de Dorade Coryphène et Gambas Grillés à la Plancha – A thick cut of pompano dolphin fish served with shrimps cooked on the plancha,

Pavé de Dorade Coryphène, Légumes Confits à l'Huile D'olive, Sauce Vierge au Basilic  - A thick cut of pompano dolphin fish served with a vegetable jam (confit) flavored with olive oil and sauce vierge flavored with basil.  Sauce Vierge, as its name suggests it includes virgin olive oil and with the oil will be fresh tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, basil, red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper. The sauce will be served slightly warm but not cooked as olive oil loses flavor when cooked. The sauce will be poured on the fish just before it is served.

Tartare de Dorade Coryphène à la Coriandre – A fish Tatar made with the pompano dolphin fish and flavored with coriander.

(Catalan - llampuga borda),  (German - pampano-goldmakrele), (Italian - corifena, pompano mahi mahi), (Hawaiian – mahimahi), (Spanish - dorado). 

Coryphène, Coryphène Dauphin, Clic – The Dolphin fish, the Common Dolphin Fish. It is the larger of the two well-known members of the dolphin fish family.   This fish is caught in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. 

The Common Dolphin Fish.
The larger common dolphin fish will very rarely be on your menu in mainland France; rather on the menus in France’s Caribbean departments and the French Indian Ocean departments where it will be a popular offering. 
(Catalan - llampuga ),(Dutch - Goudmakreel), (German – goldmakrele, grosse goldmakrele), (Italian – lampuga )  (Spanish – dorado),(Hawai – mahi mai lapa, mahi mahi oma, mahihi), 
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Bryan G. Newman

Copyright 2010,2016

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman


Daube – A Traditional Provencal Stew. Now on Menus all Over France.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Daube de boeuf
Originally daubs were only made with beef, lamb or goat with the meat marinated overnight in herbs, garlic, vegetables, pork rinds, tomatoes and red wine.  Then, with the addition of more red wine a daube would be slowly braised until ready. Now daubs come with a far wider range of ingredients.

Successful local recipes in France, including many from Provence, have often become popular throughout France and daubes are no exception. Today’s daubes or similar stews under that name are an excellent example. Most daubes on French menus are still beef stews, but you will be offered daubes made with wild boar and others that  are based on goose, tuna, or seafood.  In Provence, many restaurants have daube on their menu, especially in winter, and each will claim that theirs is unique. From my experience, those that I have tasted and enjoyed, have all been close to the original version.  All have been splendid but remain fundamentally similar.  Despite that caveat, the disputes over the slight differences among chefs and the cognoscenti are never ending.

Daube on French menus:
Daube à l'Ancienne –  Daube in the traditional manner; beef marinated and then stewed with red wine and tomato base. The vegetables include onions and carrots. Dishes offered à l'Ancienne, mean prepared in the traditional manner. This also offers a chance to ask the waiter what "a l'ancienne" means to the chef. Do ask.

Daube de boeuf. (With parsnip puree, button mushrooms, and lardons).  FF

Daube à la Niçoise - A daube in the manner of the City of Nice on the Cote d”Azur. On menus in Nice written in Niçard (Nissart), the local dialect, mostly a dialect of Provencal and Italian, the menu may offer  La Doba Nissarda -The Stew Nicoise.  Apart from using a local red wine the Nissarde version usually includes a local Marc, Armagnac or Cognac. Nice is famous for many other dishes including Salade Nicoise and Ratatouille.

Daube de boeuf    FF
Daube aux Cuisses de Canards – Daube with duck’s leg.  This red wine based daube is a local favorite in Lot et Garonne.

Daube de Mouton A mutton stew; the mutton will be marinated, with most of the fat removed, and then cooked slowly with wine and vegetables as with a beef daube.

Daube d'Agneau
Lamb Daube with Pappardelle
Daube Gasconne aux Pruneaux – Beef Daube in the manner of Gasconne, Gascony; made with added prunes. The old principality of Gascony has an agricultural base firmly anchored in plums for the prune industry.  The center of the French prune industry is the town of Agen.  

Daube de Colombe
Pigeon daube.

Daube de Sanglier avec Raviolis Maison – A daub of wild boar (this will most probably farmed wild boar) served with home-made ravioli.
Daube de Thon à la Sétoise – A tuna daube made in the manner of the famous fishing port of Séte on the Mediterranean.
Daube de Poulpe à l'Encre de Seiche -  A daube of octopuses flavored with cuttlefish ink.


Photograph courtesy of Office de Tourisme Intercommunal du
Pays d'Aubagne et de l'Etoile
Atelier Barbotine, Aubagne dabiere
Aubagne is in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône
 in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
Daubes were initially made in metal or earthenware pots called daubières. These are covered pots that were made in a wide variety of shapes, and designed for long cooking as the less expensive cuts were generally used for long-cooked stews. The traditional daubière would be a terracotta or metal pot. The lids were made to allow the water which became steam to condenses on the inside and return to the stew, which allowed for the long cooking time required. Today,  large casserole containers may do; nevertheless, for serving in the better restaurants an antique or specially created daubière may be used to present the dish and the traditional inexpensive cuts may be replaced by better and more flavorful choices.

18th Century Daubiere.

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Thé – Tea in France, and a Short History of Tea.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Tea leaves

Tea in France is much like tea in the USA. The tea itself will be in a tea bag and offered plain or with lemon.  If you come from the UK and do not want to give up your usual tea with cold milk, then you had best bring some of your favorite tea bags with you.  The French teas offered in most cafes, hotels, and restaurants are not as strong, though you may ask for two tea bags.
Tea on French Menus:
Thé - Tea –   Tea is regular black tea, usually without lemon or milk.
Thé au Citron(Le)Lemon tea.
Tea with milk - Thé au lait, pronounced tay-o-lay.
Thé au Lait (Le)– Tea with milk; not every café in France is used to the British tradition of cold milk with hot tea; certainly when you are outside the main cities. For a cup of tea with cold milk as in Britain order thé au lait froid. If you request milk on the side, you may be served tea with warm milk if you did not ask for cold milk. For tea with cold milk request thé avec lait froid, s’il vous plais, pronounced: tey avec lay frawh sil vous play. 
Froid is pronounced frawh and means cold, and the s’il vous plais means please.

Thé au Lait Froid – Tea with cold milk.

An English tea set.
English, Chelsea, circa 1760
   Thé nature. Tea without milk or lemon –
Thé vert – Japanese green tea; ocha in Japanese.

A cream tea
An afternoon tea that originated in Devon and Cornwall and includes scones, hopefully, clotted cream and jam.

Infusions or Tisanes
Fruit and Herbal Teas on menus in France
Infusions or Tisanes and the French words used for fruit and or herbal teas; they are a popular beverage. There will be a variety of fruit and herbal teas available in most cafés and restaurants. Additionally, homeopathic medicine is very popular in France and supported by the French National Health Service  and fruit or herbal tisanes are considered healthy.

There are nearly as many homeopathic pharmacies as there are regular pharmacies in France.  They are easily recognized as they have a green cross outside and often green store decoration as well. In a French homeopathic pharmacy, you may ask for an infusion (a fruit or herbal tea) to sooth your jet lag or any other feeling that makes you feel less than 100%, and they will be able to help in most cases. They will also advise you on the benefits of your favorite fruit or herbal tea without payment.

A homeopathic pharmacy in France.
Pharmacie homéopathique

Artificial sweeteners 
Not every small French café will have artificial sweeteners, so take some with you.  Sweet and Low, NutraSweet and similar French sweeteners are available in all French supermarkets.
Sucre –Sugar
Mariage Frères
The place to go for tea in Paris
Photograph courtesy of ACJ10
Mariage Frères –. Apart from marketing teas, the Mariage Frères are France’s and Paris’s most famous tea houses and tea emporiums. On my last check, Mariage Frères had three teahouses in Paris; these are not large establishments, but they are the place to go for a nice cuppa, a cake and a bit of history. These are one of the places where elegant French ladies dress up and go to see as well as be seen. The Mariage Frères teahouses offer their very elegantly clothed Parisian clientele 400 different teas and infusions from Tuesday through Thursday from 12:30 pm through 7.00 pm. (Madame does not rise earlier than 11.00 a.m. so Mariage Frères  has no reason to open before 12:30 p.m.). Also, I apologize, but there is no 4 o’clock tea at these establishments. Mariage Frères is French and the French do not have 4 o'clock tea. I have my ideas why they are not open on Monday, Tuesday. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but those ideas I shall keep to myself.
I have, in this blog, refrained from naming or recommending any of France's very special cafes or restaurants in this book,  Too many changes occur quickly and today’s very special restaurant may have a different chef and disaster tomorrow.   Mariage Frères; however, has been doing the same thing for the last one hundred and seventy years or so and that is long enough to see that they may be relied upon not to change their recipes or bring in cheap imports when my back is turned
A very short history of tea.
Tea; the beverage and the quintessential English meal, afternoon tea.   Tea, the plant that produces the leaves that will produce, with the addition of hot water the drink called tea is unique.   Fruits and herbs and their leaves do not make teas, though they are often, incorrectly, called fruit teas; fruits and herbs may make infusions but not tea and in France they make tisanes.

England may be famous for its love of tea but the drink only really became popular in England at the beginning of the 18th century, that was about fifty years after it had become popular in the tea houses and the tea gardens all over Europe. Today the English drink more tea per capita than any other European nation; despite that,  the rest of Europe including France were into tea and tea houses long before.  Nevertheless, the drink of choice in the morning for the average Frenchman or French woman is a very milky coffee. 

Manor House Tea Garden
A reminder of what was.

The tea industry.
The vast Indian tea industry that would later spread to Ceylon, Africa and elsewhere, is all down to an Englishman called Robert Fortune (1812-1880).  Fortune was a botanist and an amateur explorer, but he is better remembered for buying, begging, stealing, or otherwise procuring the first tea plants from China; those plants created the Indian Tea Industry under the British Raj.

The three types of tea.
Black, Green, and Oolong are the three most important types of tea that we see in the stores or may be offered in a café or restaurant:

Black tea
Black tea comes from tea leaves that have been fermented before being dried and from these are chosen the teas most popular in the west. The names of many of these teas cover specific areas; others are just brand names.  Earl Grey was named after the British Prime Minister of the time and this black tea is flavored with the peel of the bergamot orange, which gives it its distinctive aroma.

Black tea
Oolong tea

Oolong tea comes from leaves that are only slightly fermented before being dried, and so its taste is somewhere between black and green teas.

Oolong tea

Green tea

Green tea is produced from steamed leaves that are dried but not fermented, and this is the tea preferred by the Chinese and Japanese. The Japanese green tea and its unique and mild flavor has been taken to heart by some French chefs. The use of thé vert, green tea, or ocha, which is its Japanese name, may be noted on some French menus.

Green tea
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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