Cervelle de Canut

Over at the Hungry Writer, I’ve been posting about my travels through France earlier this year. If you’re interested, you can find the collection of posts here.

One of the highlights in three weeks of many highlights was a few days in Lyon. Lyon has an amazing food tradition that is partly the result of the silk trade in the city. This dish is named after the silk workers and translates loosely to silk workers brains – meaning that it’s soft. It was, perhaps, an indication of the dubious esteem that the silk workers were held in by the more affluent in society.

In any case, the silk workers would start work at stupid o’clock and by mid-morning would be needing a snack. This snack was known as machons (there’s a little upside-down v over the a) and consisted of something like this, probably some charcuterie, and red wine taken at a Bouchon. And yes, they’d be back for lunch.

We had this herb-flecked cheese dip served over boiled potatoes in Lyon, like in the photo below, but it’s also good on baked potatoes or slices of toasted baguette.

If you want to be really authentic have it with a glass of red wine or, better still, a communard – a Lyonnaise classic – red wine with blackcurrant liqueur (creme de cassis).

What you need

  • 250g cottage cheese or quark. Choose the full-fat version.
  • 50ml creme fraiche. You can also use non-sweetened greek style yoghurt if you like.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chives, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

To serve: boiled peeled baby potatoes or potatoes baked in their skin, or sliced and toasted baguette

What you do with it

  • Place the cottage cheese and creme fraiche in a bowl and mix together.
  • Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Stir through the shallot, chives and parsley.
  • Cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour





Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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