In her book My Life in France, Julia Child gives a rapturous account of her first encounter with French cuisine: sole meunière for lunch at a restaurant in Normandy. ‘The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter,’ she writes. ‘It was a morsel of perfection.’ Yet, mysteriously, there is no recipe for sole meunière in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One. Why did Child omit this supremely elegant dish?
Sole meunière / Sole meunière
Could it be because it’s too simple to prepare? Sole meunière, after all, is fish dipped in flour and fried in butter (with a little French trick or two to lift it from the ordinary to the sublime). Its name betrays its humble origins — the word meunière derives from moulin, or flour mill. Nothing fancy here. But as Child recalls in My Life in France, written with Alex Prud’homme, the sole meunière she tasted in Normandy was fish ‘of a higher order than any I’d ever had before.’ Indeed, she says, that first lunch was ‘the most exciting meal of my life.’ And, as you’ll see when you make this dish, that’s no fish story.
Like Julia, I was completely blown away by sole meuniere when I first had it in France.
It is hard to believe that something so delicious is so simple to cook.