Wednesday, June 3, 2009
An Ode to Mâche
There are times I wish I had paid more attention in High School English, perhaps I would then be able to write an ode to mâche. In the US, you might catch a reference to mâche on a French menu, or from Martha Stewart but here in France it is everywhere - even the discount grocery store. It is eaten throughout the winter, until the more delicate spring greens are available. I am seeing it less and less as the summer approaches. Although I appreciate the respect for seasonality here, I do want to get my fill of mâche before heading back to SF. Mâche grows in tiny clusters, which are preserved during the picking, sometimes you'll even see roots! The tear drop shape is also reminiscent of lamb's ears and it is sometimes called "lambs lettuce" in English. The taste is mild, reminding me of spinach but not as chalky. The crispy stems combined with the tender leaves makes a perfect salad, with only a mustard vinaigrette as an enhancer. I'll bring a container for a picnic with the dressing on the bottom (whole grain mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper) then mâche on top, and just mix it there to prevent the leaves from getting to wilted.
Although thought of as just a salad green, I wanted to see what else it could do. Turns out it wilts nicely, just like spinach, and you can throw it in at the end of any dish. The other month, when cheap favas were abundant at the market, I did a fava bean and mâche risotto. Or even with some scrambeled eggs, instead of spinach. If you can get your hands on some while it's still available, let me know what you do with it!