Life: Savoyard Cuisine

I once made the mistake of trying to impress a guy in France by cooking a raclette, which is a traditional Savoyard dish made of cheese (in this case, raclette), potatoes, and some sort of grisly meat I had bought at the market. The dish stank, literally, and we both tried to gag it down. Even if you don’t cook this stuff yourself in the Haute Savoie region of France, it is everywhere. Cheese, potatoes, and meat have sustained this hardy alpine population for centuries, and if you’re going to visit Chamonix, you have to at least give it a try. So when my sister suggested we go out for a traditional Savoyard dinner to celebrate our summit of Mont Blanc, I agreed—reluctantly.

I knew it would be cheese, cheese, and more cheese, but we also discovered something wonderful and new. No, it wasn’t the fondue (our appetizer, and enough cheese to sustain a small French family for a week):

We were picking from the menu, and I saw the word “brasserade,” and thought—hmmm. It wasn’t something I had tried before and—to be honest—I didn’t know what it was, so I suggested that we order it. Minutes later, this neat little grill turned up at our table:

To our delight, we had at our fingertips what was like the French version of a Japanese hibachi grill! But what to do with it? Strips of lean beef were brought to our table, so we grilled those on the top, and to make use of the cheese plate, we sliced boiled potatoes and then smothered them in cheese, melting the dish in the warming area of the grill.

In short, I’d recommend the brasserade—in any country, but particularly in France, as it makes eating Savoyard cuisine fun. See, here we are smiling…

(and I won’t mention the pain of waking up in the middle of the night with cheese knots churning in our stomachs)…


3 responses to “Life: Savoyard Cuisine

  1. And I recommend that the next time we do the brasserade we drastically reduce the cooking time for those little niblets of raw meat…And we figure out how to do the cheese and potato properly, I want to avoid having the staff laugh at us. Aparently slicing the potatoes and covering them with cheese then melting was gauche. Oh the culinary pleasures of other countries…

  2. Thomas Ratner

    I used to live in Savoie, France (Albertville) and I’ve been looking for a brasserade. Can you tell me where to buy one in the US?

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