Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines)-Paris (Paris), 09/20/2020

Sunday was the 21st and last stage of the Tour de France 2020, taking place in a region that I know particularly well, starting from Mantes-la-Jolie, less than 10 miles away from where I had my secondary house, a former barge-horse barn on the Seine river, passing by the area of Versailles where I had been a student from the age of 11 to 23, and finishing in Paris, on the Champs-Élysées where I had my office for 15 years…

The beautiful aerial footage of the peloton passing by my alma mater during the stage enticed me to pay a tribute to this historical school located in Saint-Cyr l’École, a few miles away from Versailles. Historical, I reassure you, not because I studied there from the 6th grade to my senior year, but because it was built in 1684 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the Versailles palace’s architect on the request of Madame de Maintenon, the king Louis XIV’s second and secret spouse. Under the name Maison Royale de Saint-Louis, the school initially aimed at educating and accommodating young girls from impoverished noble families. It pursued this purpose till the French Revolution when it became a military hospital (1793-1800). Napoléon, who knew well the site as his sister had been a student in the Maison Royale transformed it in a military high school, under the name of Collège militaire de Saint-Cyr, and then, as he was in need of trained officers for his extensive war campaigns, in a cadet military academy, making it the French equivalent of West Point founded at the same period. The École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr, as this became its name, fulfilled this mission of training officers till WWII. General De Gaulle was a cadet there, as well as my grandfather in the late 20’s. On July 25, 1944, it was severely damaged by the Allied Air Force targeting some ammunition warehouse and, mainly, the strategical position of Saint-Cyr on the road from Normandy to Paris. The school remained a field of ruins till 1959 when its most famous alumni, Général De Gaulle newly elected as France’s president, decided to rebuild it as a high school reserved to military brats. The school reopens under the name Collège militaire de Saint-Cyr in September 1966, when the young “me” was one of those first “brats” (under the number 0009) to integrate the totally renovated, and in fact not yet finished, school…

And by the way, the stage finished by a victorious sprint on the Champs-Élysées of the Irish arrow and green jersey Sam Bennett…

After this long preamble, you might be hungry and asked what is on the menu in Paris?

If Paris is undoubtedly the word's gourmet capital (sorry if I am a bit biased!), there are not that many dishes that could be originated from Paris: croque-monsieur, steak frites, French onion soup and a few other ones representing what is called the Bistrot cuisine, as well as some sweet specialties such as Saint-Honoré, Paris-Brest, macarons... In fact, Paris borrows and concentrates the specialties from all the French regions, current and past (the "colonies").

I propose you today merlans en colère (which translates by "angry whiting"), one of those Paris specialties and an iconic dish of the no less iconic Le Fouquet's restaurant on the Champs-Élysées, here we are again... Nobody knows why this whiting is angry, but given that it fiercely bites its tail, one can tell that it has a real fit...

Please note that, given the fish size and the deep frying process, you can easily eat the heads, the tails and the bones: in fact, they are very crispy and, I should say, delicious. A very trendy no-waste recipe then!

* During the Tour de France, combining two of my passions, biking and cooking, I will try to present (almost) every day a recipe from the route followed by the peloton.

Levels of difficulty








5 minutes

5 minutes

Ingredients 4 servings

§ 8 small (and needless to say fresh) whiting

§  Flour

§  Deep frying oil

§  S&P

§  1 lemon


To piss-off whiting, follow those easy steps:

§  Just coat them in AP flour,

§  Remove the flour in excess

§  Bend the fish so that it bites its tail and maintain it like that with a toothpick or the like,

§  Fry for around 5 minutes in a deep-fryer or a skillet. Adjust the time depending on the fish size, but it is better to use small whiting like those pictured where 2 whiting make 1 serving.

§  Place them on a paper towel and serve them with a tartar sauce for instance.

§  Simply serve them with steamed potatoes or, like here, with chopped Savoy cabbage and kale cabbage rapidly cooked in (a generous quantity) of butter, and a wedge of lemon.