My grand-père Loulou used to say, “Une année c’est comme une glace à l’eau, ça fond vite.” (A year is like a popsicle, it melts quickly).
Twice a week, (the original) Loulou was making my lunch. It was like an institution. I was the last of the grand-children, so he was already well-trained and already nostalgic, I think, about ending this cycle with me. Everything was well-organized–the timing to go to the farmer’s market, the butcher, the bakery for my sweet. Every cousin was always saying the same thing after every meal, “Merci Loulou, c’était très bon.” Loulou was always eating standing up, close to his oven–as if he were being punished. Cooking seemed something very serious to me, at this time. Once, I had to stay because I wasn’t eating my salad, so finally I kept my salad under my tongue and went to the bathroom to spit it out.
But all that’s just surface. Loulou & I were best friends. That’s true. My after-school snack was a time when our generational gap was disappearing.
I often go through his recipe book and this salad was the first thing I made that I had never tried from him. That’s what makes it so special to me. It feels like discovering something for him–something he had meant to make, but never got around to–it feels, in a way, like keeping his spirit alive.
It’s a good seasonal salad because it uses the first radishes of the Spring, the last apples of the Fall, smoked trout from the Winter, and the bitter endives that see us from Winter to Spring.
(The young) Loulou introduced this salad to me last Winter in the mountains, using just endives, an apple and this yoghurt-y, mustard-y dressing. It was bitter and sweet, tart, creamy and crunchy, and I remember him saying, “You usually make it with trout.”
Trout! One of those foods I enjoy when it’s presented to me, but hardly ever seem to seek out. Before making this salad this Saturday, even after seven-months of living alongside the biggest lake in (Western) Europe, I’d yet to really explore all the trout & trout-like (we used the unique-to-these-Alpine-climes white-fish fera in our version) possibilities here. The smokiness of the fish is a truly lovely addition and takes this salad to next-level, all-you-need-for-your-picnic-lunch status, for sure.
I’ve finally tried this salad (the original) Loulou’s way, after a year (that did, indeed, go by as quickly as a melting fruit bar) of making it the way (the young) Loulou introduced it to me.
And this is what’s special to me–how recipes can evolve as they’re passed from generation to generation, and how they can keep the spirit of a person, a connection or a conversation between two people alive.
Merci Loulou, c’était tres bon!
Sometimes I feel like the descriptor "sustainably caught" is simplifying something that is, in fact, quite complicated. Aquaculture (or fish farms) can be (but are not always!) problematic and the consumption of wild, line-caught fish can be linked to aquaculture's (not always responsible) expansion. I'm not sure what the right answer is (and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!), but we live in a region where line-caught lake fish are a-plenty so we chose some wild, line-caught fera for our version of this salad. Feel free to make adjustments (substituting roast chicken for fish, for example) according to what's available in your region.
- 3 small endives, chopped
- 1/2 sweet apple, diced
- 2 handfuls radishes, chopped in half
- 1/2 fillet of smoked trout or another smoked white-fish, sliced in small pieces
- 4 tablespoons yogurt
- 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt & pepper
- Chop endives, apple, and radishes and place in large salad bowl.
- Slice fish in small, bite-able pieces and add to bowl.
- Mix yogurt, mustard, oil, lemon and salt and pepper in a jar and shake until emulsified.
- Pour over salad, mix and enjoy.