Who doesn’t like a little romance? The Culture and Cuisine Club believes without romance the world would be a pretty dull place. We are excited to share with you a recipe from world traveler and prolific romance author Jackie Weger. Jackie is not only successful in her own right, but has made it her business to assist other writers in marketing and promoting their work. She believes in paying it forward. And now in the author’s own words…
How many lark’s tongues make a meal?
I have eaten strange foods. I once was the guest of a family who lived on the top of a mountain in a dry Pacific rainforest. No electricity, no ovens in the thatched-roofed kitchen—all foods prepared fresh and on a native stove built of river rock and sand. I was served the choicest part of the meat. Boiled chicken head. Eyes intact. Beak intact. Little tongue sticking out. Yes, I ate it. One does not offend when one is the guest of honor. I have since learned to make chicken feet soup. Do not forget to cut off the nails. It is wonderful and tasty. The feet do startle guests when they find them in the bottom of the bowl.
On another note of cuisine and another continent: Many French people speak English if one is on a tourist route. However, off the tourist grid where I prefer to travel, you need to know a little French. Thank goodness, I had spent many a weekend and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, which gave me a heads up to order un café au lait. Every server in every tiny village or sidewalk café or bistro gets it—in spite of my Southern drawl.
You cannot get through Paris and its environs without sampling the foods. You can eat grand by shopping in open-air vegetable and fruit markets, the tiny bakeries and chocolatiers or street vendors—which I did. Lunch was often in museum cafés and I did not go out for supper. An apple, some grapes and a small loaf of bread or a meat pastry and perhaps some cheese sufficed as I soaked my sore tourist’s feet and hung out the tiny hotel window watching the locals on the narrow, cobbled streets—an entertainment all its own.
Nevertheless, late one night I did get hungry. I somehow lost my goody bag of fruits and cheese and followed a gaggle of natives to an outdoor café. Tables were tiny and elbow-to-elbow. My dining companions were an archeologist from the UK, on his way to another adventure in Egypt and his long-suffering wife—on her way back to the UK to hold down the fort, raise the kids and earn money to support her adventurer, certainly the worst half, on his escapades. The chat up was interesting and a writer never knows where we will find a character to make an on page visit, so I didn’t glance too much at the menu, and ordered une salade de poulet (chicken salad), a glass of house wine.
I do not like to order tossed green salad in foreign countries because it never comes with dressing, except perhaps vinegar and oil. I like blue cheese. However, I soon learned un salade de poulet de France is not chicken salad USA.
The salad came and it was monstrous. In a bowl. An entrée served with a quarter cup pitcher of vinegar. Not. The pitcher was vinegar sweetened with local honey—served hot. The salad had fresh greens, boiled, sliced eggs, crispy slices of chicken light and dark, grand slices of vine-ripened cantaloupe and tomatoes dotted with cracked pepper. Who knew? The hot honey watered with vinegar enhanced the flavor of every tidbit in the salad. And then a surprise. At the very bottom of the bowl, les pommes de terre sautées(diced and crisp fried potatoes)—still warm and gently flavored with honey-vinegar.
It was to this day the best salad I have ever tasted and so easy to duplicate. The salad was not salted and I did not add a grain.
Here’s what you need:
Large wooden bowl.
Salad greens—your choice.
Two boiled eggs shelled and quartered.
Fresh cantaloupe, four generous slices.
Sliced cooked chicken white and dark. Sauté in olive oil.
Potato diced—boiled for two or three minutes—drain and sauté in olive oil until tender. Don’t worry if not browned.
¼ cup of white vinegar.
While ‘building’ the salad allow honey-vinegar mixture to warm over low heat. Do not boil.
Here is what you do:
Layer the bottom of the bowl with a large lettuce leaf. A must have to catch any honey mixture that settles.
Put a couple of heaping spoonfuls of potato in the middle of the leaf.
Add salad greens to cover potatoes. Add chicken slices. Add tomato quarters. Add egg quarters. Add cantaloupe slices. Sprinkle with cracked pepper.
Place hot honey-vinegar mixture in a cruet ready to pour over salad once served.
The French serve every meal with bread. American crackers of any description, however fancy, will not do for une salade de poulet.
A warm French loaf, sliced or whole makes the meal. Do not use butter because it greases the palate and you want your taste buds open to receive the wonderful, sensuous and unexpected mingling of flavors.
Marie Antoinette could have easily dined on the same salad. Along with lark’s tongues—a favorite of royalty on all continents.
Did you know that honey is the only food in our universe that does not go bad? It has shelf life of a thousand years and more!
I will be making this salad in the near future for sure.
To learn more about Jackie and her books visit her blog http://jackieweger.com/
Her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jackie-Weger/e/B001JS2M62/
E Novel Authors at Work blog: http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/