One of the perks of my former job as a Law Slave (i.e. legal secretary) was the little booklet of tickets restaurants that I received each month with my paycheck. French law requires that firms that do not have a subsidised cafeteria must supply employees with these tickets which can be exchanged for a set value of food. Mine were more generous than some, giving me 9.20 euros per day for my lunch. That said, I was working near the Champs-Elysées, where lunch is not cheap. All this is to explain why I am very familiar with the standard salads available in Parisian cafés. I ate in a lot of cafés and I ate a lot of salads. There is the salade d'Auvergne, which will probably include some country ham and Cantal cheese. The Parisienne, which is sometimes ham and cheese and sometimes chicken, tomato and egg. My favourite was the Périgourdine, which at my favourite café was so decadently fatty as to make a salad unhealthy: foie gras, confit de canard (fatty smoked preserved duck), country ham with thick slabs of fat on the edges and preserved gésiers (gizzards, sounds gross perhaps but I am totally addicted to them). You could hardly see the green beans, salad and tomatoes under all that meat. Thank heavens I do not live in the Périgourde.
One salad that seems to vary more than most with the taste and inclination of the chef is the salade océane: I've seen it with little pink potted shrimp, watery canned tuna, surimi (though not all at once). As I stood in line at the market last weekend, I spied some lovely plump pink cooked shrimp lying on the rapidly melting ice and bought a few hundred grams for the Critic's and my lunch. Then I saw a gorgeous rotisserie chicken and bought that for lunch too. The combined effects of going shopping before breakfast and a two week heat wave can lead to this kind of thing: I wanted to buy everything (and smelled) gorgeous, but especially the ones that didn't involve any cooking. So the Critic and I had warm roasted chicken for lunch, and I looked for something interesting to do with the shrimp the next evening for dinner. A nice cool oceanic salad.
Salade Océ ane
I always feel a bit silly giving a recipe for a salad. Mostly it's just "assemble these ingredients together and make them look pretty". The originality - if any - is in the decision of what to include.
Assemble these ingredients on two plates and make them look pretty:
Gorgeous juicy shrimp from the market (I cheated on the photo - we had a lot more than two shrimp each)
Soft tasty salad (I used feuille de chêne, cleaned, spun and ripped in big pieces
6-8 lightly steamed new potatoes, cut in large hunks
2 ripe tomatoes, cut in eighths
1 large spring onion, cut in thin strips
1 cup cucumbers, cut in small cubes
4-6 anchovies (if you are so inclined)
and for the vinaigrette:
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
a dash of salt
1 Tbs herbs: chives, parsley, thyme, basil, chervil and shallots (I use a frozen mix from chez Picard, the frozen food store)
Serve with soft buttered bread, a bowl for the shirmp shells and lemon slices. It's a great summer dinner or lunch, cold and healthy and yet filling.