Hey Soupers,

So, it has been a while since I had a good culture clash with my French friends here in Lyon. Who would have thought that it would have been a soup that would bring it on? You learn something every day in a French kitchen, and generally, you don’t see it coming.

Since the economy tends to slow down in France this time of year as families escape to beach-front towns and other vacation hot-spots all over the world, the restaurant currently only offers a limited menu and no buffet. As a result, less food needs to be prepped, and I get more time-off.

I enjoy working, but I don’t miss the 66-hour weeks. Even the Chef is taking his vacation during this slow season, which is not great for me because it means that I am on my own dealing with certain cooks who think that they own the place. A few of them assume that my language deficit correlates with my cooking skills (false), but I use this to my advantage. If they try to correct me on something that I know I’m doing correctly, I simply pretend that I don’t understand them and finish the task my way.

Of course, most of my colleagues are wonderful, and I enjoy talking to them about my culinary program at home. One of the major things I am looking forward to when I return to the States is my Senior Practical Dinner. It is sort of a final project for which I will have to pull-off a multi-course, themed meal for eight people of my choice. I like to throw around ideas for the menu items I might serve and get my colleague’s reactions. This led to an interesting discussion about Vichyssoise.

In America, we are taught that Vichyssoise (a cold potato, cream, and leek soup) is a traditional French soup. But, if you ask the French about it, they will look at you like you’re talking about burritos.  I found this out the hard way.

I was shocked by the reactions of my co-workers when I brought up Vichyssoise. Not one of them had ever heard of such a dish! It actually made me a bit hot and caused me to question their knowledge of their own cuisine. That is until I did a little research.

Turns out that while the French use a lot of potatoes and leeks in their cooking, and probably do make soups with them, the name of the dish and the service style was most likely formalized by a French Chef, Louis Diat of the Ritz Carlton in, get this, New York during the 1900s. He named the soup Vichyssoise after Vichy, France a town not far from where he grew up. The verdict is still out on the facts because Internet resources can be sketchy, but I think I might be on to something here… It sure explains the looks I got.

I know I said I would do more traveling in the coming weeks, but I thought it might be a good idea to explore and appreciate Lyon. I mean, it has been my home base for the few months, but usually when I am here, I am working so much that I don’t get the chance to explore.

While I was out I wanted to try a new restaurant, and I was going to attempt to find a place that served something other than French cuisine. It’s hard to deny myself all the French food I can stand while I am here, however, so I settled on a modern French restaurant called La Clé A Noa.

I like to eat well, but I also can’t afford to blow half of my paycheck each time I go to a restaurant. Luckily, I have learned some secrets to stretch my Euros. One of the best ways to experience the cuisine at a restaurant is to order the menu du jour. This usually consists of three courses of some great, seasonal dishes and is generally quite reasonably priced.

My meal at La Clé A Noa for example only cost me about 15Euro. I started with a salad of mixed greens, hardboiled egg, tuna, cucumbers, and poppy seed vinaigrette. Next came a filet of halibut with coconut milk sauce, served over a bed of rice and mixed vegetables. At that point, I was starting to feel full, but I knew that the best was yet to come—my grand finale: delicious chocolate cake with a warm fudge center served with a crème anglaise and raspberry sauce.

I’m sorry for making your mouths water Soupers, but as a culinary student, I feel that it is my duty to eat well and embrace flavor and technique.

Well, that just about covers my lazy week in Lyon, but I will surely have more adventures to fill you in on soon!


Read all of Coty’s experiences in Lyon by clicking here