Quenelle from the East Side of France

Quenelle is a salty dish made with poached fish or chicken, and typically semolina (or bread dough), water, eggs and milk. The mixture is fashioned into small football-shaped bundles and immersed in a sauce, typically tomato, béchamel, or crawfish. The most popular quenelles, found in supermarkets and homes alike, are made with a fish called brochet (pike). The word quenelle comes from the German knödel (meaning boulette, a ball of dough or dumpling). Mentioned in an ancient culinary treaty, quenelles were originally a Roman dish. While they are popular in many countries in Europe, this dish is also typical of some French regional cuisines, especially in the Lyon, Lorraine, and Alsace areas. French King Louis XV supposedly feasted on this dish, though the version of quenelle heate at court was probably not the one we typically encounter in our plates today. During the Second World War, the dish was made without the fish and meat ingredients. Today, quenelle does not only designate the food: in France, it also references a contentious gesture, popularized by the French comedian Dieudonné. In a skit that criticized “the religious establishment”, he joked that the dish looked like a suppository. The comedian then made a gesture with this imaginary quenelle (an “up yours!” gesture), which some saw as an inverted Nazi salute (and thus antisemitic).

Quenelle in crayfish sauce

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