My Parisian Restaurant Map

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Chicken Oyster!

While deciding what to eat last week at a little bistro in Levallois, in the west of Paris, a really bizarre looking word-even for French-caught my attention. On the menu was written:

Salade de sot l'y laisse, facon Cesare.

Now my French is not awful, but I had as much difficulty pronouncing sot l'y laisse as I did the first time I saw the word moelleux. (A moelleux is basically a gooey half-baked chocolate soufflĂ©, and is a word that I use way too often, trust me.)

Feeling rather adventurous, and having been reassured that it's not an innard- phew!- (see my post about riz d'agneau...ahem), I decided to order it. What arrived was a large salad with a creamy dressing, and roundish bits of brown chicken meat, with a thin squiggly line of marbled fat in the middle. I have the impression that it could have been prepared better, and maybe in some other places it's just heavenly, but for now it's probably the most inoffensive piece of French mystery meat that I have tasted so far.

Further research then informed me that sot l'y laisse  literally means 'only idiots leave it behind', with the idiot being the person who is carving the roast chicken. In English people refer to it as the chicken oyster, since it's supposed to be the best kept secret of the chicken, but most idiots don't know it exists so they throw it out with the rest of the bones, and apparently to the French this is so horrifically appalling that they literally named that piece of chicken 'only idiots don't eat me'. How French.