World-renowned chef, author and Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Lyon, France, in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, April 27, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.
If you want to get a bird's-eye view of the importance of the gastronomic traditions of Lyon, France, look no further than the primary school lunchroom in the suburb of Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu.
Sloppy Joes? Pas ici. Think pumpkin soup, chicken blanquette and fromage blanc, all crafted by head chef Marie, who personally comes to the table to serve each of the more than 300 children.
Chef Daniel Boulud grew up on a farm here, attended school here, started washing dishes here - his love of food began here. Now, he's a culinary luminary in his own right, with an eponymous Michelin three-star restaurant, Daniel, in New York City and a growing family of award-winning restaurants around the world.
In the April 27 episode of "Parts Unknown," Anthony Bourdain travels to the gastronomic capital with Boulud to dig up the roots of the region's longstanding tradition of world-renowned chefs.
The second largest city in France "believes absolutely in the power of food," Bourdain asserts.
That conviction is evidenced in the intricate details of a pâté en croûte or perfectly spooned quenelles de brochet (pike).
Fueling Lyon's food tradition is the brigade de cuisine, the military-style hierarchy instituted by Auguste Escoffier: Put your head down, work your way up and always, always answer, "Oui, chef."
The system is a bridge between past and present, master and student.
"A major trunk of the tree," Bourdain says, is Monsieur Paul Bocuse. Boulud worked at Bocuse's flagship, L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, as have many other great chefs.
For Bocuse, the masters were Fernand Point and La Mère Brazier. Eugénie Brazier is the godmother among the boys' club of "la nouvelle cuisine." She was the first chef to have two restaurants each receive three Michelin stars.
"Her influence runs right through every kitchen that's come since, and her graduates carry on her recipes and her traditions," Bourdain says.
Invite a little Lyonnaise magic into your own kitchen with this savory recipe from one of the region's favorite sons.
Stuffed Cheese Pumpkin with Gruyère, Bacon and Walnuts
Daniel Boulud: "I come from six generations of farmers and tavern owners near Lyon, in the heart of France. At the farm, we ate what we grew long before farm-to-table became fashionable. This built the foundations of my love for the freshest products, and particularly for the natural rhythm of the seasons. My memories of growing up in the tiny village of Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu are tinted with the recipes of my grandmother Francine and my mother Marie.
I can still see my father selling slices of pumpkin (we called it potiron or citrouille) at the market in the fall because, in France, most people just buy a thick slice to make a soup or perhaps a gratin. My mom, however, would take the whole [pumpkin], cut a large circular cap with a sturdy knife and spoon out the seeds. Then she would stuff the glorious pumpkin with chunks of toasted bread, shredded cheese, bits of bacon, mushrooms and walnuts. She warmed some heavy cream, poured it inside and cooked the whole shebang in the oven. The bread would absorb the cream and the pumpkin flesh would 'feed' itself on this delicious gooey cheesy mélange.
We used a large spoon to dig in. It’s so simple - the humble cooking at the farm, the ideal dish for a family gathering around the table.
The bacon came from our pigs, of course; we grew the pumpkin, we made the bread. My roots reach deep into the countryside, the terroir of France. My grandmother’s recipes became legendary in the family; to this day we recreate them with great pleasure, but this particular dish is my mom’s, and the memories are delicious."
Meanwhile, with a small serrated paring knife, remove a circular cap wide enough to later fill the pumpkin with stuffing (approximately 10 inches in diameter). Cut the sourdough bread into 1-inch-thick slices and toast. Lightly rub the toasted bread with the clove of garlic.
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper-towel-lined-plate; keep the bacon fat in the pan. Return the pan to medium heat, and add the mushrooms. Sauté until tender, about 3 minutes, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. When the cooked kabocha squash is cool enough to handle, remove the flesh with a spoon and cut into a rough dice.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and cream with the ground spices, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the inside of the pumpkin with salt, pepper and the paprika. Begin filling the pumpkin by starting with a layer of bread, then half of the bacon, half of the walnuts, half of the pumpkin seeds, half of the chives and half of the cheese. Pour in about half of the cream mixture and lightly press down. Repeat with remaining filling ingredients to reach the top of the pumpkin. Pour in the remainder of the cream mixture to reach the rim. Return the cap to the pumpkin and transfer onto an aluminum foil lined baking tray.
Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the cheese pumpkin is cooked though. Serve warm, scooping a bit of the cheese pumpkin from the sides along with the filling.
For more on the art of French cooking, pick up a copy of "Daniel: My Kitchen."
Previously on "Parts Unknown":