Food & Drink

The Interpreter

So, What Exactly Is Lyonnaise?

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Every so often, you come across a curious piece of menu jargon. It sounds familiar. It looks familiar. Maybe you’ve even consumed it a time or two. But what the heck is it, really? Great question.

Sounds like a job for The Interpreter.

The word: Lyonnaise (lee-oh-nays).

Its origin: Lyon, France.

What it means: In the style of Lyon.

What it really means: A dish cooked with chopped, often caramelized onions. Or, when modifying the word “sauce,” it refers to a gravy comprised of white wine, vinegar and onions. So... think onions.

Where you’ve seen it: French restaurants, brasseries and the occasional grandmother’s house.

How it usually appears on menus: Potatoes lyonnaise; sauce lyonnaise; salad lyonnaise.

Fun fact for dinner conversation: “The invention of sauce lyonnaise is often attributed to Duke Philippe de Mornay, a French Protestant writer who served as Henry IV’s right-hand man from 1577 to 1582.”

Appropriate response: “Okay. Pass the potatoes.”

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