Serrano Scallops and Coquilles St. Jacques à La Provençale
Today I’m just thinking out loud about how we give names to food.
When I first started making “coquilles St. Jacques à La Provençal” I followed Julia Child’s recipe religiously, just as I read it in her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and as I watched her make it on TV. I’ve never changed a thing and it’s always delicious, beautifully so. In this I agree with Mexican Chef Iliana de la Vega who always says that if you want to fiddle around with traditional recipes, for example, Mexican mole, go ahead and do so.
“Just Don’t Call it Mole!” I think that’s a good rule.
I took Julia Child’s recipe and surrounded the flavors with a background of serrano chile flavor. Solid flavor, but still a background. First I added finely diced serrano chile, no seeds no membrane, to the sauce. Second I served it with a white rice pilaf in which the liquid infused with serrano chile. The dish has an overall earthiness and lift that is in keeping with Texas and Northern Mexico. But I’m not calling the dish “à La Provençal.” I choose to call it Chile Serrano Scallops.
Today I’m finding recipes for “scallops St. Jacques à La Provençal” that include tomatoes, a quintessentially Mexican product. (Julia Child did not use tomatoes and so I never do.) But here’s the question: Should the tomato-inclined cooks name their dish ” “Provençal-Mexicaine” since tomatoes are a Mexican staple? No, because they are not copying any Mexican dish, they are making their own, but this time with ingredients available in a new and changing world. I’m in Texas and Northern Mexico where I keep out the tomato and add Serrano chile.
Voila , Chile Serrano Scallops!