The skull and cross bones would be an ideal pennant for the carnivorous pike. Several feet of scaly flesh surmounted by a fierce head made monstrous by a mouthful of stilettos gives ample credence to this fanciful title. It will come as no surprise to hear that this predatory beast does not come quietly and, when eventually it is caught, will have the last laugh on the successful fisherman in that, having so many small bones, it is practically inedible. “Kinell” would indeed be a suitable oath for the Anglo angler when becoming aware of such a nightmare chewing its way along his line on the way to his arm. I am not a fisherman but, if I were, I would throw the rod, hook, line and sinker into the river and head for the hills…or a riverside pub to have a vengeful fish and chips. Le Meres de Lyon were made of sterner stuff finding something worth cooking even in the lowliest pieces of offal so, the word inedible not being in their dictionary, they were not slow in finding a way to separate bone from flesh in order that the noble brochet might appear on their bouchons’ menus next to the traditional brains, tongue, bollocks and tripe. The flesh of the cooked pike is passed through a tamis and then bound together with egg and breadcrumbs. This is then formed, with dexterity and spoons, into soft pillows which are gently poached in simmering water. The swollen “quenelles” are then napped with the crayfish and wine based sauce Nantua before being passed under a hot grill. I chose to eat my quenelle without the first passing it under the grill and, luckily having another quenelle about my person, passed that one under the grill. Both were very good and I am indebted to those smart Lyonnaises who know more than a thing or two about cooking. My delicious examples came from the celebrated Charcuterie Sibilia whose range of wondrous products is mouth watering.
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