Cervelle de Canut is a Lyonnaise speciality, which literally translates to ‘silk worker’s brain’. The rather insulting name got its start in the 19th century when Lyon was renowned as the silk weaving capital of France; at the time, there were over 100,000 looms in business which accounted for 75% of Lyon’s industry. Silk workers, known as ‘canuts’, were looked down upon as lowly laborers and revolted against the owners over low wages and exhausting work conditions in 1831 then again in 1834, resulting in a six day siege that ended with 300 being killed and 10,000 laborers deported.
I am not sure if it’s my need for a great story, but bizarre dish names like this inhabit a particularly fond place in my heart. When compared to the Italians, who seemingly dominate the field solely with great pasta names like the macabre strozzapreti, or priest chokers, to the brutally honest, maltagliati, which literally translates to badly cut, the French are rank amateurs. Nonetheless, Lyon seems to have some great dish names.
Cervelle de canut is made from creamy farmhouse cheese mixed with shallots, herbs and oil that tastes great spread over toasted bread, cucumbers, radishes and even chips. The next time you are craving a great party dip try my easy recipe.
Cervelle de Canut
Cervelle de canut is a simple cheese dip that tastes great spread over toasted bread, cucumbers, radishes and even chips.
- 2 cups fromage blanc
- 1 clove garlic mashed
- 2 each shallots peeled and diced fine
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon chives chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- to taste sea salt and black pepper
Mix fromage blanc, garlic, shallots, herbs, vinegar and oil together, season and serve.
Fromage blanc is a fresh cheese similar to yogurt and can be found near specialty cheeses in grocery stores. I have substituted fresh goat cheese, cream cheese mixed with a little heavy cream and even thick Greek yogurt in this dip.