When it comes to grabbing a quick lunch, French people like to keep things simple: a delicious bread filled with carefully selected ingredients. A review of the most “beret-compatible” snacks, to eat while watching upcoming tennis tournaments and football competitions in the best possible manner.
The ham sandwich
The worker’s must-have! Following the example of one small village of indomitable Gauls, it still holds out against the “Hamburger” invader. Millions are sold every day in France. And for good reason! The ham sandwich is the easy solution to sate appetites. Provided it is prepared on the spot, with half a surdough baguette, with a crispy crust, cut in two halves, spread with farmhouse butter at room temperature and with cooked ham, sliced neither too thin nor too thick. Is that all? OK, you may add some gherkins, or some home-made persillade: chopped parsley and shallots, sunflower oil to bind and a pinch of red wine vinegar. And if you are dying for something hot and meltingly soft, choose the inauthentic but mouth-watering ham (and cheese) croissant, the mix of the most famous French sandwich and of the most famous French pastry.
Along with its counterpart, the croque-madame—with an extra fried egg—, they are emblematic of the fast and hot meals eaten in a bistro. The recipe is simple but, as always, overlooking one step would be inconceivable: you need two slices of bread, high quality cooked ham and one slice of PDO Comté cheese. And finally home-made bechamel sauce. To serve 2, melt 0.70 oz butter and add 0.52 oz flour. Let it brown slightly before adding 8.5 fl oz milk infused with laurel and nutmeg. Let the sauce thicken for a few minutes, stirring over a gentle heat. Sprinkle with grated Comté cheese, then toast under the grill. It’s ready! A nice twist consists of replacing bechamel sauce and use melted onions, cooked until golden in olive oil and seasoned with pepper, or even of replacing the ham and cheese with slices of pear and Roquefort cheese. Cook this croque-monsieur (cut into triangles) in butter in a frying pan until golden.
The pan bagnat
This sandwich was created in Nice and used to be the breakfast of fishermen and blue-collar workers; it soon became the emblematic southern snack. Just as the salad also from Nice, its supporters don’t all agree on the ingredients used in the authentic recipe. So just create your own recipe, keeping the Mediterranean idea in mind: open this bread roll, remove some crumb and add a generous quantity of olive oil. Here is the “pain baigné” (bathed bread) in the Occitan language. Fill with sun-drenched crudités: juicy tomatoes, small peeled fava beans, mesclun salad mix, sliced cucumber or zucchini, crunchy radish, etc. Then add: drained oil anchovies, basil, luxury line-caught tuna if you can afford it, soft-boiled egg, picholines, etc. A taste of Southern France The match can start. Whatever the result, you are all set!