Around France

What Does a Southern Gal Think of Lyon? “Hog Heaven!”

Lyon, France is famous for its bouchon restaurants. In the southern states of the US, we call it “home cooking.”

Bouchon is known for being modest food made from inexpensive ingredients like organ meats. We have chitterlings, tripe and hog’s feet served in restaurants throughout the southern states of the US. We call them “innards” and “parts.”  Bouchon takes “parts” to a new level — cow’s foot, veal nose, veal paunch (stomach) — just to name a few tasty bits.

Bouchon restaurant menu

Bouchon restaurant menu

 

Early bouchon gastronomes in Lyon were the silk merchants who frequented the downtown café. Now there are so many restaurants that serve bouchon there is a rating system to help differentiate the “authentic” from the “tourist-traps.”

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Since 1997, Pierre Grison and his organization, L’Association de défense des bouchons lyonnais (The Association for the Preservation of Lyonnais Bouchons), bestow annual certifications to restaurants as “authentic” bouchons. These restaurants receive the title Les Authentiques Bouchons Lyonnais and are identified with a sticker showing the marionette Gnafron, a Lyonnais symbol of the pleasures of dining, with a glass of wine in one hand and a napkin bearing the Lyon crest in the other.” (Wikipedia)

 

Bouchon de l’Opera 

Bouchon de l’Opera is a little restaurant with a big heart. When I arrived without reservations I was seated at one of the two small tables the owner’s wife designated as “unreserved.” Looking around, it was obvious all the other settings were for groups of six or more. Soon the place was filled with couples and friends who seemed to know the place well as a friendly stop after work.

Decorations in the homey cafe are vintage kitchenware with a big emphasis on “piggy” collectibles. 

There were only two people working in the restaurant — the owner/chef and his wife.

Owner/chef at Le Bouchon de l'Opera

Owner/chef at Le Bouchon de l’Opera

The chef was chopping away on salad fixings, then he’d turn to stir a pot on the stove. It was all open to view if you peered into the back.

His wife was scurrying around the front of the house with menus and carafes of water and house wine.

“English menu?” she asked, figuring quickly that the tall blonde she’d seated didn’t appear to be French.

Fortunately there was a menu in English. The items would have been hard to explain in French.

 

Yes! I ordered the Bouchon de l’Opera salad…

Bouchon de l'Opera salad

Bouchon de l’Opera salad 

Veal’s nose and cow’s foot and all…

It reminded me of the andouillette at the markets in Uzes. Unlike the cajun variety of andouille, the French sausage is made from pork intestines (chitterlings) and stomach (tripe). It was just a bit more unusual to see it served here with pieces of herring.

My main course, or “plat,” was another extraordinary taste-test: home-made pike quenelle — a mixture of creamed fish, bread crumbs and egg served in a cream sauce.

 

Pike Quenelle

Pike Quenelle

 

 

Tripe with cornichon "mayonnaise"

Tripe with cornichon “mayonnaise”

Tripe: another bouchon plat choice 

Tripe (cow’s stomach), breaded and pan-fried. It was served with a cornichon (gherkin) “mayonnaise” that tastes much like tartar sauce.

 

Served with vegetables

Although it was quite in disguise, pumpkin was a side dish. Alongside, a French variety of potato pancakes. IMG_4318

 

 

 

For dessert …

There was no way that I was going to finish the night without a dessert. Below are just two of the choices –terrine glacée au chocolat noir and the tarte tatin et sa confiture de Beaujolais nouveau. Fabulous!

13 replies »

  1. I’ve never been to Lyon but I really admire your bravery and trying the classics the region is so well known for. I would do excatly the same thing. Maybe I can schedule a naughty weekend away and eat at this restaurant- it looks great! Did you stay with a friend? I find Lyon accomodation can be quite expensive..

    • Do it! You’ll love the museums, the shopping and the cathedrals. It’s really beautiful. I stayed in an AIRBNB apartment that I really enjoyed. It’s a bit away from the business area, but not a bad walk at all. And the exercise is needed after all you’ll eat! Don’t miss the Lyon Halle… what a spread of fabulous foods! Enjoy https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2017746

  2. Deborah you have once again done a wonderful job of exposing the food to the rest of us mortals who would probably not be as aggressive in their choice of menu items as you–but perhaps!! Have a great Thanksgiving and hello to all in Uzes!!!

  3. Lyon is up there as one of the top places we want to visit (we live near Uzès), particularly to try its food. Thanks for this blog, Deborah – it’s highly enlightening! See you soon, Judith

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