Editorial: Why I don’t like French salads

Published by Thursday, November 3, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Jonell Galloway

We all know what a Francophile I am, especially when it comes to food and wine.

But there is ONE thing the French do which really gets on my nerves!

In the first place, rare is the restaurant that uses good lettuce. Mesclun is considered some kind of luxury, and now that I’ve lived in Switzerland, I’m accustomed to eating the wild greens and mesclun fresh from the mountains. So the supermarket lettuce in France is really not to my liking.

The other thing that really annoys me is that they just throw a bit of mesclun on top of the salad, and the bowl is invariably too small to allow one to mix the greens and the vinaigrette without spilling it out onto the table, so I inevitably end up feeling like a klutz.

Of course, Julia Child’s Niçoise salad, when made with top quality, fresh, local ingredients, is impeccable. Ironically and unfortunately, Nice is about the hardest place to find a good Niçoise. The tomatoes are invariably hothouse from Holland, even in the middle of the summer, and the green beans are frozen in the height of the green bean season.

My conclusion is that French restaurants most often just throw salads together, and don’t consider it real cuisine, so they can’t be bothered. But if you really like or yearn for a salad, this is disappointing, especially since the salads are overpriced, as if they were “real” cuisine.

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  • Elatia Harris
    July 29, 2012

    Tell it, Sistah! They have no understanding of the subject at all. I have never had an excellent salad in France, no matter what I have been willing to pay for it.

  • Ruby
    July 30, 2012

    Funny – France is where I learned to love salad! But the difference may be that it wasn’t the restaurant salads, it was the homemade ones that swayed me. Growing up, our salads were always a predictable mix of tomato, lettuce and cucumber. In France, however, I learned that single-ingredient salads could be fantastic, such as just tomato, just cucumber, just lettuce or (my favourite) just grated carrots. And, going back to the restaurants, it was in a Basque restaurant in Paris (Chez Gladines) that I discovered you could put hot things like sausage, potatoes and poached eggs into a salad and make a hearty meal of it. May be the exception, but what a life-changing revelation!

    • Jonell Galloway
      July 30, 2012

      The French seem to love them. I’m spoiled living in Switzerland, becazse I get fresh wild greens straight from the mountains and I’m just can’t eat the lettuce you get in cafés in Paris anymore.