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Mon 4th Apr, 2016 was...

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4th Apr each year

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This is the day we celebrate a dish that so many of us are familiar with in one incarnation or another, but very few of us have any knowledge of the history of, or even what its name really means! This delicious dish is most basically described as a piece of cheese wrapped in a piece of ham stuffed in a butterflied chicken breast, breaded, and fried. It’s a wonderful combination of flavors and preparation techniques, which has created an iconic dish that always calls back to the restaurants and cafes of Paris.

One of the things you can do to celebrate this day is investigate the many different takes on this recipe from across the world. The recipe is simple enough that it’s unsurprising that it has crossed the world in one form or another, incorporating itself into just about every culture. You can even find instances of it in cultures where the pork aspect is forbidden, so they simply replace it with beef, and leave the rest of the dish intact.
One of the little known facts about Cordon Bleu is that it merely means that the French believed this dish to be of prize winning quality. “Blue Ribbon” being the direct translation, and the implication being much the same as it is in any county fair. This is the impact it had on them, that there was no other name appropriate for this dish than “First place”.

As a celebration of this day, and its auspicious dish, you can try one of a variety of popular variations. There are many, depending on which part of the world you’re calling from, and looking to. The most basic in variations is the chicken being baked instead of fried, which is what seems to be the most common in the Americas.

One variation not commonly known of outside of its home of Switzerland is the Schnitzel Cordon Bleu. The primary difference here is that the meat is thinned out, breaded, and two Schnitzel are put together with ham and cheese between them, the variant here also lies in the selected cheese. Ironically, rather than the Swiss cheese so popular in the French and American versions, this variant instead uses Emmentaler or Gruyere for its dairy portion.

A similar variant comes from Hungary, where veal is used in place of the chicken, but the filling is the same. Rather than being folded as a pocket, instead it is rolled with cheese and ham inside of it. It’s popularly served with mashed potatoes, French fries, or rice, though it’s not unheard of for any other vegetable to accompany the meal, along with breads.

On days where food is celebrated, it’s always good to try to bring a little bit of this days special food into the office, just to spread the joy and flavor of the world’s cuisine. One wonderful way to do this is to create a batch of smaller versions of the food. Cordon Bleu bites are often made by creating bite-size versions and rolling them into bread crumbs, which are deep fried while skewered with a tooth pick.

With all the varieties of Cordon Bleu of the world to choose from, there’s no reason you can’t bring in a selection of flavors from around the world. What better way to celebrate Cordon Bleu day than by introducing all your friends and co-workers to this surprisingly multi-international dish! Even better, you can show them how it doesn’t have to be a complicated dish to prepare, and can share your special recipes with them!

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