Friday, August 13, 2010

Salad Nicoise - canned or fresh tuna?

Did you know that people have been debating the proper way to make a Nicoise Salad for decades? I know, can you believe it. (ha, just kidding) It's been the topic of conversation with chefs, critics and foodies for a very long time. I had no idea until now.

I read an article in the September issue of Wine Enthusiast about the "real" way to make Salad Nicoise. Certain people say the salad must not have any cooked elements, the tomatoes must be quartered, the original recipe doesn't include lettuce, and the biggest debate of all is around the tuna - canned tuna or seared Ahi tuna. According to the author, David Rosengarten, it's not really a Nicoise salad unless you use canned tuna.

Really? Really???? That's dedication to a salad. Whoa. It's a salad people!

So it got me thinking. What does it mean to be an authentic recipe? I get what it means to authenticate a painting or a gold coin. But how do you authenticate a recipe? It's possible we have the original recipe as recorded by the first person on the planet to come up with said concoction. But even with that, every cook has their own way and things taste different. It's not like we can pull out that original dish and take a bite. Cuz you know, it's been eaten and discarded in the porcelain god. You know, it's gone. Loooooong gone.

And who cares anyway?

Are all these foodies that have been debating the recipe for years saying that we can NEVER alter a recipe? Ever? That we have to make it exactly as it was originally conceived? Or is an authentic recipe the essence of the original recipe that makes it authentic. If we were only to use "authentic" recipes then there wouldn't be thousands of cookbooks out there. hmmmm. Hello?????? I think these people just miss high school debate class.

But back to the Nicoise Salad.

What does the word nicoise mean anyway? And how do you say it? Well, I'll tell you. It means "as prepared in Nice." So I wonder if everyone in Nice, all Niceans have any thoughts on the canned vs. fresh tuna debate. I did some google research and Elise Bauer, from Simply Recipes solved the pronunciation question (nee-suaz.) She also has a really yummy recipe on her site, and you can get it right here! And you know what else? I found restaurants in Nice that served the salad with Seared Tuna. TRAVESTY!!! Poor Niceans (which is pronounced NIECEEEANS. And yes, I made it up.) are eating Nicoise salad the wrong way. I guess I can't go to Nice now. They have no..........oh who am I kidding. I'm not going to Nice unless someone hands me a plane ticket and a wad of cash.

I will say all this talk about fresh veggies and tuna did get my taste buds watering for this salad though. I would like to make it with fresh seared tuna. Of course canned tuna is a lot cheaper. So we'll see. I know one thing is for sure. I won't be adding any anchovies - cuz they are hairy and yucky, and unless completely dissolved in a sauce or salad dressing, are just plain gross. People that say otherwise are lying. Don't you dare drape little smelly fish on top of my salad. Ickkkkkk. And I'll smack you if you get GOAT CHEESE anywhere near me. Let's not go there.

Bottomline, who cares if we change it? The Nicoise police will not be knocking on my door. It's going to taste good, and that's all that matters. And guess what?  My current favorite cookbook has a fab recipe. But I'm kinda digging the recipe on Simply Recipes. So I think we'll have to try that version.

So what do you think about all of this. Other than you think I might be going CRAAAAZY.

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