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French purists outraged as McDonald’s puts potatoes in Salade Nicoise

McDonald's in Italy has been ridiculed by the French after it emerged that it was adding potatoes to its Salade Nicoise. But Italy's version of 'McDo' is not the first to provoke a salad war.

French purists outraged as McDonald's puts potatoes in Salade Nicoise
Photo: McDonald's Italy/AFP
It's all very well experimenting with recipes, but HOW DARE YOU PUT POTATOES IN A SALADE NICOISE?
 
Well, that's how the French have responded after McDonald's Italy did exactly that. 
 
 
Yes, that's the offending dish above, which contains “Patate” (potatoes) as the ingredients list show. 
 
Many of you will no doubt be saying: “Hold on what's wrong with that, I always put potatoes in my Salade Nicoise?”.
 
But traditionally the salad, a popular summer dish in France that originates from Nice, did not contain potatoes and so traditionalists will balk at the idea of including potatoes or indeed other cooked vegetables like green beans.
 
As far as we can tell at least, the traditional recipe includes: Tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, anchovies, and an olive oil dressing.
 
When the internet noticed that McDonald's Italy was adding potatoes to its “Insalata Nizzarda”, it started what we can only refer to as #NicoiseGate. 
 
The local Nice Matin newspaper reported on the story with the image of American actress Taylor Schilling screaming and apparently in tears. 
 
It called the recipe a “scandal”, running with the headline “Now McDonald's in Italy is mistreating the Salade Nicoise” (see below). Le Parisien newspaper called it a “sacrilege”.
 
 
Some French internet users continued the outrage, sharing pictures of people in tears, and taking the chance to call the Italians crazy.
 
One commenter went as far as to write “Je suis la salade Niçoise”, a nod to the “Je suis Charlie” slogan that became iconic after the terror attacks in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in 2015.
 
And we can't just blame the Italians. A quick search around Europe shows that other McDonald's stores offer potatoes in their Salade Nicoise (including the one in the Netherlands, for example, which even looks a lot more appetizing – see below). 
 
 
But perhaps traditionalist Salade Nicoise fans need to get with the times. 
 
British chef Gordon Ramsay, who calls the salad “the finest summer salad of all”, also adds potatoes.
 
The foul-mouthed Brit's own recipe – shared here on the BBC good food guide – includes 300 grammes of small new potatoes, which he says should be cooked until soft, then halved and sizzled in an oily pan until golden and crisp, then added to the salad.
 
Apparently the man who should be blamed for potatoes and green beans being added to the salad is famed French chef and cookbook author Auguste Escoffier born near Nice in 1846.
 
In reality a quick trawl of the internet reveals there are dozens of different ways to make a Salade Nicoise and rows over what ingredients to put in are decades if not centuries old.
Debates rage online over anchovies versus tuna or olives versus green beans and to be fair, if you order a Salade Nicoise in Riviera restaurants you are likely to get a different version each time, food critics point out.
 
Ronald McDonald is not the only person who has been blasted for innovating with the salad in recent years.
 
Last year French Michelin-starred chef Helene Darroze was blasted online by purists for posting a Salade Nicois recipe that included cooked potatoes and green beans. She was accused of massacring the recipe and was warned that it is “dangerous to innovate”.
 
 
Partly as a result of the controversy and debate traditionalist cooking enthusiasts in Nice set up their own defence committee to protect local food – including the salad.
 
The group, the Cercle de la Capelina d’Or – which doubles as a cooking school, worked to raise awareness about the dishes, sharing “horror” stories about when ingredients like mayonnaise or corn managed to find their way into Salade Nicoise recipes. 
 
Members insist that a Salade Nicoise tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, salted anchovies, tuna, spring onions, Nice olives, plus basil. It's acceptable, they say, to add broad beans, artichokes, and green pepper.  
 
As for Italians, well international recipe scandals have worked both ways recently.
 
Italians went mad when France had the absolute audacity last year to reinvent pasta carbonara… by adding creme fraiche. The cheek!

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FOOD & DRINK

Five of France’s new Michelin foodie hotspots

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Local vegetables and fruit are the stars of the dining show at Villa La Coste, with meat and fish playing an accompanying role. A three-course lunch menu is €75, while a full dinner menu is €155.

Domaine Riberach: La Coopérative – Bélesta, Ariège 

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