Lyon is known for the quality and variety of its food. Restaurants abound! The most characteristic are called bouchons – a word of uncertain origin, either related to a bunch of twisted straw which came to appear on the signs of eating places in the 16th century; or the term for a cork in a wine bottle. (A bouchon can also refer to a traffic jam: we saw many more of those in Paris than in Lyon!).
However the name developed, it now refers to an informal eating place that features traditional cuisine of the region, such as sausages (andouillettes), soups, head cheese, herring and other fish, salad Lyonnaise and much more…generally quite heavy on the meat courses.
There are only a few dozen “official” bouchons, though many restaurants use the name in an attempt to attract tourists. On our last trip, we visited Le Musée which is attached to the Museum of Printing in downtown Lyon. The patron sat us at a long table, came over and sat beside us, and led us through the menu (in both French and English) with many jokes and a little teasing along the way. The food was fabulous. Here he is (with Laurie) enjoying himself. His much more serious daughter is in the background.
Traditionally, the patron had the right to toss a non-congenial customer out into the street. That’s what this plaque is about, which we found on another Lyonnaise bouchon named Le Garet. It reads (with tongue firmly in cheek):
Be careful: the saying “the customer is always right” doesn’t apply in a Lyon bouchon. Here, it’s the owner who is always right. He welcomes whom he wants; serves whom he likes; tosses those outside whom he doesn’t want to come back. If it’s you who is thrown out in front of the laughing regulars, don’t worry; you’re not the first to whom this has happened.
No kidding: the boss doesn’t care. He’s a man of character, who does what he wants. Trying to get on his good side just irritates him.