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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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POLITICS

Paris Agriculture show returns for 2022 event

The Paris farm show is back after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Set to be held one month before the presidential election, the 2022 event will be politically loaded.

French President Emmanuel Macron checks the quality of a cow during the Paris Agriculture show.
French President Emmanuel Macron checks the quality of a cow during the Paris Agriculture show. The event returns in late February after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. (Photo by Ludovic Marin / POOL / AFP)

The organisers of the Salon de l’agriculture, an annual farm show held in Paris, have announced that the 2022 event will be held from February 26th – March 6th.

The 2021 edition was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic – and the 2020 event was cut short – and there had been fears that this year would suffer the same fate. 

“This edition will not be like the others,” wrote the organisers in a statement, out of “respect for the health guidelines.” 

Mask-wearing rules, added ventilation inside exhibition tents and special measures to facilitate tastings during the pandemic will be implemented. Visitors will need to hold a valid health pass. 

The event falls just over one month before the first round of the presidential election, set for April 10th – and candidates will be sure to milk the opportunity to score political points. 

The event is the annual highlight of the agriculture sector – which employs about 759,000 people in France – and many more rely on the agricultural sector indirectly for employment. The sector was valued at €81.2 billion in 2021.

“This is a highly anticipated event, not just for the farming community, but also for citizens, political leaders and the media,” wrote the event organisers. 

Former President Jacques Chirac pioneered the use of the farm show as a political event, visiting almost every year from 1972- 2011. 

Former President Jacques Chirac inaugurates the 2007 Paris farm show.

Former President Jacques Chirac inaugurates the 2007 Paris farm show. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / POOL / AFP)

In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron spent 14 hours strolling through the farm show, shaking hands and speaking with producers. This marathon visit set a new record for a sitting president. 

Previously, Francois Hollande is reported to have paid a 10 hour visit, Jacques Chirac 5.5 hours and Nicolas Sarkozy just four hours. 

The Local visited the show in 2020 to find out why it was so important for politicians to attend. 

READ MORE Why petting cows at the farm show is crucial for French politicians

The event, which is held at the Porte de Versailles in the south of Paris, isn’t just for farmers and politicians – it’s hugely popular with the public and thousands of people usually attend. 

The full ticket price is €15, for children between 6-12 it is €8 and children under six can go free. There are also group discounts available. 

Tickets can be bought online here and at the venue itself. 

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