Être un cordon bleu
Cordon bleu is one of those phrases that like to play double duty. It has a similar core meaning in both French and English, but it's used in different contexts.
In French, it literally translates to blue ribbon, and traditionally refers to a person who excels in culinary arts. When someone is called a cordon bleu, it means they are a highly skilled and accomplished chef.
Now, the English speakers, being the clever language acrobats they are, thought, "Why stop at just calling chefs cordon bleu? Let's turn it into a dish!" Et voilà, chicken cordon bleu was born. The chicken isn't just cooked, it's a culinary masterpiece: chicken breast filled with ham and cheese, breaded, and then usually baked or fried to golden perfection. It's like the culinary equivalent of rolling out the red carpet for your taste buds; a dish so exquisite that it calls for a fancy name!
The origin of this expression dates back to the 16th century when King Henry III of France established the Order of the Holy Spirit. The members of this prestigious order wore a blue ribbon as a symbol of their distinction - because, let's face it, nothing says "I'm fabulous" like a pop of blue! Over time, the term cordon bleu became associated with excellence and skill.
Fast forward a few centuries to 1895 when culinary genius Marthe Distel founded a cooking school in Paris and decided to name it "Le Cordon Bleu." Suddenly, being a culinary superstar became synonymous with having the skill to rock that metaphorical blue ribbon.
As to the dish, it first appeared as Veal Cordon Bleu and might have originated in the French-speaking part of the Swiss Alps. There are mentions of cordon bleu as a "schnitzel" filled with cheese in Switzerland in the 1940s, and the name was first mentioned in a cookbook in 1949.
Its chicken counterpart, on the other hand, is definitely American. The first reference to Chicken Cordon Bleu appeared in 1967 in The New York Times.
Ta grand-mère est plus que bonne cuisinière; c'est un vrai cordon bleu!
Your grandmother is more than a good cook! She's a gourmet chef!
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