Sitting alone at my local French bistro last Saturday, I was squeezed into the corner amidst love-struck romantics and awkward first dates. Nevertheless I wasn’t feeling melancholy, for despite the nearby romanticising I had an even better date…Boeuf Bourguignon! With meat so tender and onions so sweet, it comforts the soul way more than any human companion could (not that I’m bitter or anything!).
To make this yourself you’ll need beautiful red wine, onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaves and importantly… beef! Served with your favourite carbohydrate (pasta, bread or mash) to ensure no gorgeous saucy goodness is left behind, heaven soon awaits for all the senses.
It’s this luscious melange, braised for hours, that has resulted in the stew’s popularity and transformation into haute cuisine. Despite its rustic appearance, today Boeuf Bourguignon is served in restaurants worldwide. On menus in Melbourne I’ve seen many modern versions: Paleo, Gluten-free and even Vegetarian!
It’s traditionally prepared using meat from Charolais cattle, a prized breed of France’s Burgundy region where the dish originated as peasant food, likely during the middle ages. In a region replete with wines and their grape-growers, cattle and their farmers; boeuf bourguignon truly reflects the region’s identifying produce, people and their vocations.
Boeuf Bourguignon became renowned following Auguste Escoffier’s publication of the recipe in the early 20th century. This exemplifies the importance of the written word to dissemination of regional cuisine, allowing many to experience another’s foods through the influence of recipe sharing. By enabling dishes to travel the world through print, one engenders the translation of their culinary and cultural practices onto others, thereby conveying their regional or national identity.
Without recipe writing and sharing, our multicultural Melbournian cuisine would certainly be at a loss. This came to mind as I enjoyed my Boeuf Bourguignon, miles away from Burgundy. How lucky we are to have such regional dishes at our doorstep.