Whenever you talk to students about what they miss from home, the immediate response is “home-cooking.” Most of my friends with who I’ve discussed the exact dinner I miss agree that home-made lasagne is unequivocally the cherry on top of our cherished home meals whose recreations in a crummy student test are far inferior.
So when I dine out, I think long and hard about whether to order the lasagne. Can a resto chef really put my Mum’s lasagne to shame? And if he or she did, wouldn’t that cause far more anguish than it’s worth? Generally, I prefer to stay safe and order something else, gambling on unknown ingredients and combinations to preserve the sacredness of the lasagne.
However, there is a sort of compromise that has been made, as I discovered and tested at Simeone dell’Arte in Bordeaux for my friend’s leaving meal. Perusing the menu, I came across lasagne, and my mental pen put a line straight through it. Then, lasagne came up again, only this time it was a spinach and salmon lasagne. Umming and ahhing followed and then the waitress took our orders and that was that.
It arrived as a tower of buttercup, rose and grass, with a moat of melted butter around it. Un peu de trop – the salmon in the lasagne had covered the buttery requirement by itself. But, it was very attractive. Sweet and flaky too, the salmon hit the mark, and rather than being swamped by creamy béchamel, it held its own. Stepping from a ledge of salmon to strands of spinach was very comfortable and all in all I enjoyed it hugely. Overall, this pescatarian lasagne was less brawn and more streamline, but it lacked the bubbling robustness of a beef lasagne.
If some of you remember, I went to Simeone dell’Arte earlier on in the year and was taken to new levels of choux-induced highs when the profiterole dessert arrived as an elephantine cloud of soft pastry, stracciatella ice cream and chocolate sauce. Naturally we ordered it again, if only to shock everyone. It worked. The French do French food well, but this is definitely my most favourite Italian place to eat. Unless I’m eating beef lasagne, in which case you can find me chez moi.