Have you ever heard of cervelle de canut before?
It is one of the most interesting and surprising food discoveries I made when I was visiting Lyon (France) for a couple of days last summer.
Does Lyon ring a bell?
It is the culinary hunting ground of one of France’s most famous top chefs by the name of Paul Bocuse. You surely must have heard of Bocuse before! Well Lyon is a lovely Paris like city that is near the rivers Rhône and Saône.
So what are some food specialties that you shouldn’t miss here in Lyon?
There’s this veal trotter lentil salad or “salade de pied de veau aux lentilles” in French. Also “quenelles de brochet sauce nantua” or simply fish mousse quenelles in a creamy crayfish sauce. One of my favorite Lyon dishes!
And then we also have the salad Lyonnaise of course!
Cervelle de Canut (French Fresh Cheese Dip)
This French cheese dip is a refreshing explosion of flavors in the mouth.
It is clearly meant to cleanse your palate after a Burgundy dinner. Indeed, you can find this whipped cheese on the dessert menu!
But I don’t want to frighten off some taste buds here.
So today I’m preparing it as an appetizer. More like a dipping sauce with toasted bread and a fresh tomato salad. Freshly sliced radishes also match perfectly with this cheese spread.
If you find it too runny, add more quark cheese.
For anyone who cares: the name of the dish in French literally means “the silk weaver’s brain”.
There were plenty of poor weavers in Lyon long time ago. This city used to be an important hotspot and commercial center for the textile business a few centuries ago.
So was its name more of a macabre tribute or an ironic joke that the upper and richer bourgeoisie invented to amuse themselves with during high tea?
Anyway, this recipe is a no brainer for sure.
- 7 oz quark cheese (200 g)
- 4 tbsp cream
- 1 small shallot chopped
- a handful fresh chives chopped
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Add the quark cheese and cream to a bowl and then add the the garlic paste, the freshly chopped chives and shallot.
Drizzle with the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season the quark cheese with a little pinch of pepper and salt to taste.
Stir the cheese again. Then check the seasoning and add extra pepper or salt to taste if necessary. Put the cheese in the fridge for 5 minutes. Serve chilled.