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French fury as celebrity chef adds forbidden ham and mozzarella to pan bagnat

A celebrity chef has provoked outrage in Nice by adding honey chicken, ham and mozzarella cheese to a cherished local speciality, the “pan bagnat”, a bread roll traditionally filled with tuna, olives and egg.

Thierry Marx, a Michelin-starred exponent of molecular gastronomy, was accused of desecrating the Riviera city’s proud culinary tradition by offering patrons of his restaurant at Nice airport a choice of ham and mozzarella or honey chicken fillings, in addition to the traditional ‘pan bagnat niçois’.

One furious Niçois tweeted: “Where’s the whipped cream? Band of Nazis!”

The protests were led by Franck Viano, who organises cooking competitions and has set up a Facebook group called “Cuisine Niçoise Collective” to defend local specialities against “non-purist influences”.

Mr Viano rejected claims that he is stifling culinary creativity. “We are not ayatollahs,” he told French television. “Niçoise cuisine should continue developing, but we must not alter recipes that are written down and well known.”

Top chef Thierry Marx trespassed on the traditional recipe 

Credit:
 JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Surprised by the impassioned outcry, Mr Marx, a former marine paratrooper, quickly retreated. He has now agreed to change the name of his sandwiches so they are not confused with the authentic ‘pan bagnat’.

Having countered Mr Marx’s affront to their cuisine, the purists soon took offence at what they saw as another “perversion” of a Nice speciality, the ‘pissaladière’ —  sometimes considered to be akin to Italian pizza with a thicker dough, although traditionalists claim the two are unrelated.

Hélène Darroze, who has restaurants in London and Paris, and was voted the world’s best female chef in 2015, incurred their wrath by adding cherry tomatoes, rocket, parmesan and herbs to her version of the ‘pissaladière’, traditionally topped with anchovies, onion and olives.

“This is a disgrace,” one Niçois posted. “You might as well add ketchup too!” 

Mr Viano is lobbying Unesco to recognise the cuisine of Nice as part of France’s cultural heritage after discovering that French law would not allow the ‘pan bagnat’ to be protected under an “appellation d’origine” — a certification for French agricultural produce often used for wines and cheeses.

Nice is jockeying to have its produced recognised

Credit:
 Fraser Hall/ Robert Harding World Imagery

Mr Viano has released his recipe for a traditional ‘pan bagnat’, which he stipulates must contain nothing more — and nothing less – than the following ingredients:

A bread roll no wider than 20 cm; half a tin of tuna in olive oil; a hard-boiled egg; three tomatoes; a green pepper; an anchovy fillet; a few black Nice olives; basil leaves; some radish; a small piece of celery; two small spring onions; two ‘Poivrade’ artichoke hearts; a few ‘févettes’ (tender young broad beans; salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil.   

As for pissaladière, the dough base is usually topped with caramelised onions, black olives, anchovy fillets and ‘pissalat’ — an anchovy paste made with olive oil and flavoured with cloves, thyme, bay leaves and black pepper.

However, France’s reputation for gastronomy took a knock in January when shoppers came to blows in supermarkets across the country over cut-price jars of the chocolate-and-hazelnut spread Nutella. 

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/17/french-fury-celebrity-chef-adds-forbidden-ham-mozzarella-pan/

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