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Balanchine and Nicoise salad


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11 replies to this topic

#1 Birdsall

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:03 AM

A friend asked me what was in a Nicoise salad, and even though it is one of my favorite salads, I couldn't remember all the ingredients, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and the entry says that it is rumored that Balanchine may have influenced the creation of it when he was working in Monte Carlo. Just thought this little tidbit of info might be interesting to someone besides me. I never thought there was a possible ballet connection to Nicoise salad!

#2 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 11:15 AM

Posted Image

#3 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 08:21 AM

Oh, I'd love to know.... it's one of my favorite dishes, and when I was first in France (not eating meat....) one of the few things I could order without problems.

#4 Birdsall

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:08 AM

Oh, I'd love to know.... it's one of my favorite dishes, and when I was first in France (not eating meat....) one of the few things I could order without problems.


It does have tuna though. But some restaurants create a version with salmon also. Do you eat seafood? I was vegetarian for 3 years until my sister died, and I love vegetables. After she died all my priorities changed in life and I didn't care about the things I did before. Now I eat whatever, although 95% of my meals are probably vegetarian by sheer accident simply because I prefer eating that way. I love seafood but I can take or leave beef, poultry, and pork.

#5 Quiggin

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:19 AM

I always had salad nicoise in Los Angeles made with Belgian endive and thought that was the way it was done until I made a trip to Aix en Provence one year (on People Express, $99) and had it served with radicchio, which I misguidedly thought was a neat variation of the original ...

Anyway it’s a charming idea that Balanchine was present at the creation of salad nicoise, perhaps alongside Auguste Escoffier, whose recipe Elizabeth David in French Provincial Cooking quotes.

The divine Elizabeth says:

The ingredients depend upon the season and what is available. But hard-boiled eggs, anchovy fillets, black olives, and tomatoes, with garlic in the dressing, are pretty well constant elements in what should be a rough country salad, rather than a fussy chef’s concoction.


She also mentions Pan Banis

which is served in Provencal cafes with a bottle of wine when a game of boules is in progress. The ingredients vary according to what is in season, or what is available. There may be anchovies, gherkins, artichoke hearts, lettuce. Probably it is the origin of salade nicoise which is made with the same variety of ingredients, but without the bread.


Unfortunately the idea of what is simple and what's in season doesn't hold anymore. Here's Salade Nicoise (2):

Tunny fish in oil, the flesh of tomatoes, diced anchovy fillets. Seasoning of tarragon, chervil, and chopped chives, with or without mustard. E[size=2]SCOFFIER[/size]'s version



So maybe the question should be: which of Balanchine’s ballets most closest approches his method of making salad nicoise. Perhaps Jewels is could be thought of as three versions: mache, radicchio, and belgian endive (or, more respectfully, witloof).

Is Balanchine's version in the New York City Ballet cookbook that Tanaquil Le Clercq wrote?

#6 Birdsall

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:45 AM

Stop! You're making me hungry!!!! LOL

#7 kfw

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 04:33 PM

The pianists Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale have a Cooking with Balanchine section in "The Gold and Fizdale Cookbook," and it includes a Salade Olivier, George Balanchine. Here's the ingredient list: cucumber, German-style dill pickle, roast chicken, boiled potatoes, peas, mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, hard-boiled eggs, capers, black and green olives, and tomatoes.

They write:

Balanchine always felt that shopping for cucumbers was a serious business that required great skill and lightning action. "I watch big, fat ladies fighting to get the biggest, fattest cucumbers which are lousy and I stand behind them, like eagle, on my toes. Then, when I see tiny, green, firm young cucumbers, I swoop down and pounce on them and fly home."



#8 Marga

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 07:45 PM

Is Balanchine's version in the New York City Ballet cookbook that Tanaquil Le Clercq wrote?

No, unfortunately.

#9 Marga

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 07:51 PM

They write:

Balanchine always felt that shopping for cucumbers was a serious business that required great skill and lightning action. "I watch big, fat ladies fighting to get the biggest, fattest cucumbers which are lousy and I stand behind them, like eagle, on my toes. Then, when I see tiny, green, firm young cucumbers, I swoop down and pounce on them and fly home."

Actually, Tanaquil LeClercq wrote that paragraph in the Balanchine section of The Ballet Cook Book..[font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif][size=4] Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale are quoting her![/size][/font]

#10 Mashinka

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:04 AM

The worse Salad Niçoise I ever had was in a cafe in Monte Carlo where tinned sweet corn somehow got into the mix. I thought with Nice just up the road it might be rather good, I suppose I was naïve in that belief.

#11 Birdsall

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 03:58 AM

The worse Salad Niçoise I ever had was in a cafe in Monte Carlo where tinned sweet corn somehow got into the mix. I thought with Nice just up the road it might be rather good, I suppose I was naïve in that belief.


I got a can of Del Monte fruit salad (or the Italian equivalent) instead of fresh fruit salad in Venice, Italy!!! I was shocked. Maybe b/c I was a tourist, but I felt like tossing it in the canal!!!! Too scared there are laws about that and I would be arrested!

#12 pherank

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:21 PM

I'm shocked by how many different versions of the Niçoise Salad there seem to be in the world (maybe I shouldn't be). I used to make this dish quite often for dinners with friends. The most essential ingredients that I knew of were, niçoise olives (naturally), flaked tuna, sliced hard or soft boiled egg, green beans, and small fingerling potatoes (but this could just be diced potato). (Anchovy fillets are also used a lot, but are not my cup-of-tea.) All over a bed of spring greens and baby leaf spinach, and crumbled goat cheese on top. Cherry or diced tomatoes, and julienne carrot are a nice addition. Oh and the traditional dressing is a mustard dressing, but I used to make a really 'powerful' garlic, shallot, mustard and honey dressing that people seemed to like. Now I'm wondering where I wrote down that recipe...


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