The story on how Lyon became the Capital of Gastronomy
So now I will tell you more on how it has happened that Lyon become the Capital of Gastronomy. Next time I will tell you who the Paul Bocuse is and what those bouchons are all about and why Lyonnais are so proud of them! At the end time I will introduce you to the Lyon’s Traditional Dishes and I would like to leave you with the List of My Top Lyonnais meals recipes. They will be very handy if you would like to impress others with…so French, so Lyonnais, so tasty and different to any other cuisine or just to treat yourself as well. So, how does it sound to you? I hope you will like my little journey to the French cuisine observed & experienced & reported from the best (for food) place – Lyon!
Have you realized that the history of Lyon’s cuisine is dated back to the ancient times! Lyon was back then called the Lugdunum and it was the capital of the Three Gauls.
It all started with the wine as since the 2nd century BC, Lyon has been doing the wine trade. The Middle Ages brought to Lyon many fairs and inns, which influenced the city’s culinary. But the real and fundamental beginnings of the Lyonnais best cuisine started in the sixteenth century. During that time the agricultural products from this region of France have been used by the Florence cooks, here in Lyon. But what those Florence cooks have been doing in Lyon in 16th century? Well, apparently, it was Marie de Medici, the wife of King Henri IV, who brought Italian cooks to her court. They prepared dishes which impressed everyone. They combined the Italian cuisine with the Lyonnais regional products. This made the regional specialities of Lyon area of the best quality and they even gained the royal status. That is why thanks to the location and the access to such a variety of products, Lyonnais cuisine became a crossroads of many regional culinary traditions.
Because Lyon is surrounded by some of the finest raw materials in France.
At the north of Lyon there is the vineyards of Beaujolais; the lakes of Ain. This is a place from where Lyon gest the best quality carps and crayfish. Then there is Bourg-en-Bresse which provides Lyon with top quality chicken. And this is just the beginning as there comes more: the famous Charolais beef comes from located nearby Charolles. When we are exploring more, at the South of Lyon there is the Rhône Valley – the home of Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu. The West of Lyon, it is the farmland of Monts du Lyonnais and beyond we have the Loire Valley which is very important to Lyon for its pork.
But moving forward, another very important element which designed the Lyonnais cuisine were so called ‘Lyonnais mothers/‘Les mères lyonnaise’.
It does sound interesting and mysterious, doesn’t it? Well, Lyonnais mothers are the nickname for the middle-class women, former house cooks who left their homes after la revolution française to work mainly for Lyon’s rich. Additionally to this, they started preparing popular, simple meals for the canuts, silk weaving workers. They created new culinary traditions and they become very, very popular in Lyon and outside the city. And when this happened, even the General de Gaulleas VIP has arrived to Lyon to try Les mères lyonnaise’ meal. For more than a century, les mères lyonnaises were more famous than all the personalities of Lyon.
Like for example Mère Fillioux who become very well known for her volaille demi-deuil (truffled hen), she opened her own bistro and taught the culinary craft to another culinary iconic figure – Mère Eugénie Brazier.
The first woman to get three stars from Michelin in 1933 for her restaurant & bistro. She has been even called the second mayor of Lyon and as you might know she trained young Paul Bocuse. So more less, Les mères lyonnaises revolutionized the kitchens of Lyon but also the whole France.
And from this moment Lyon become of the interest to the world of the gastronomy, many food critics and typical gourmets started to visit Lyon. So then another important moment in the Lyonnais cuisine history took place.
In 1934, the gourmet Maurice Edmond Sailland, usually known as Curnonsky, who had spent several weeks each winter in Lyon declared that Lyon was the “capital of gastronomy”. From this significant date, Lyon is continuing to hold this gastronomy reputation.
Because with such a popularity and reputation, mères lyonnaise used a moment and started to expand their horizons. They opened their own restaurants, giving birth to culinary traditions that remain till today. They inspired other cooks, baker and chefs. They came for the internships and to learn from meres lyonnaise. This is how the great chef of Lyon, the best chef of France has begun his career.
Paul Bocuse and now traditions and learnings are being passed over to new culinary lovers. There has been set up L’Institut Paul Bocuse and L’École Vatel. These are schools where you can learn the trade, there is the France famous top culinary competition organized in Lyon which keeps the culinary standards very high.
And after having an internship in one of the Lyonnais top restaurants, bakeries, you will be sure to gain the best experience ever and you will be sure to get a job anywhere else easily.
Nowadays, Lyonnais cuisine is defined by its simplicity and quality. It is famous and in other parts of France and abroad. It is a real Capital of Food, wouldn’t you agree?
With such a history and origins, with so many Lyonnais who care about the food traditions, who love to eat but especially enjoy the food, who love to cook, bake and cherish food….here will come more…the Pope of French Cuisine, The Lyonnais Bouchons and Lyonnais Specialities. But all of this is not to make you hungry but excited and ready for the unforgettable adventure with France and its amazing (Lyonnais) cuisine….so stay patience and tuned for more articles to come and in the meantime…Bon appetite!