Raymond Sokolov, then of Newsweek, was the first English-language journalist to notice and write about the radical things that were happening in the kitchens of French chefs in the early 1970s. He spotted Paul Bocuse and Michel Guérard well before the rest of us had any idea what was going on – indeed, he ate his first eye-opening nouvelle cuisine meal in 1969 at Les Frères Troisgros in Roanne. What made it so different? First, his saumon à l’oseille was plated up in the kitchen by the chef himself, not served from a silver platter by the waiter; second, the salmon was not the usual thick steak of fish, but escalope-thin; third, cooked only for seconds, it remained moist; and fourth, its sauce not only had no flour, but was very obviously made from the cooking liquid, some butter, very little cream and a chiffonade of sorrel alone.
Any good cook is capable of producing this dish today, but when the Troisgros served it at the end of the 1960s, and even when Caroline Conran’s Englished version of it appeared in this country (as late as October 1980), it was strikingly novel. Having been on the Paris bureau