Pike Quenelle (Quenelle de Brochet)

Pike Quenelle, courtesy of Billy P

By Billy Pierre, Staff Writer

Whether you believe it or not, we are at the end of the semester. Many of you will travel – at least I hope so. So, if you are lucky to find yourself in France, consider making the trip to Lyon. I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful city last year, during a study abroad program. The experience was second to none, thanks to all the museums you can visit there, the ancient churches such as the Fourvière Basilica and the tasty dishes that I had the ultimate pleasure to savor in Lyon. Today, let me tell you about my experience when I had pike quenelle for the first time.

I still remember the image of my friend who was late for our gathering. He was running in the rain to join us at Palais St-Jean, one of the Bouchons Lyonnais located on rue St-Jean. Like the other students in the group, I was very excited not only because that dinner was free – the school had paid for us – but also because it would be the first time I was going to experience authentic Lyonnais cuisine. In fact, as I arrived at the restaurant, the first question that I asked the waiter was about the definition of a Bouchon Lyonnais. Without any hesitation, he explained to me that the expression refers to all restaurants that serve traditional Lyonnais cuisine.

His response had, of course, sharpened my desire. Since I had trouble deciding which of the Lyonnais dishes to choose, my professor, a native of Lyon, suggested that I should order a quenelle. I did not really know what it was, but he promised me that I was going to thank him afterward. So, I ordered a ‘pike quenelle’.

After a little over half an hour, my food was on the table. The wait did not feel too long, thanks to the salad I was having in the meantime. Just the sight of my quenelle inspired me with a great feeling of satisfaction. Served in an oval bowl, the food with a golden color aroused my appetite. On another plate, of rectangular shape, was served the rice that accompanied it. First, I wondered if you had to use a spoon and sprinkle the rice with the sauce in the quenelle, but my professor came again to my rescue. He taught me that an authentic Lyonnais would pour his rice in the bowl of the quenelle. Without hesitation, I began to eat in Lyonnaise style.

Eating in Lyonnaise style implies that it was necessary to accompany my dish with a glass of wine. I wanted it so much. But since it was a dinner for students, alcohol was forbidden. We understand that the professor wanted to avoid any problem with the university. However, I was curious to know which wine is usually served with the famous quenelle. Wines! It’s not just one. The magazine Vin-Vigne recommends the Château-Grillet wine while the Mâcon is advised by two other magazines. While the choice of wine lies in the preference of the consumer, it seems that a glass of white wine would be ideal in all cases. Indeed, Château-Grillet is a dry white wine, considered a product of regular quality in the Rhône vineyard. Mâcon is also a white wine. It is produced in the region of Burgundy.

The pike quenelle is a dish with one of the most sophisticated flavors. I look forward to returning to Palais St-Jean, or any other Bouchon Lyonnais, to finally have an idea of the taste that results from the combination of the quenelle and a glass of Mâcon.

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