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A wartime courtbouillion: The vicomte de Mauduit’s Truite Au Bleu.

From They Can’t Ration These, from 1940, a book by the vicomte “to show where to seek and how to use Nature’s larder.” Back then he was right to add that “in time of peace and plenty people overlook or ignore” wild foods, but not anymore. This simple courtbouillion would be equally at home on the best tables of London or New Orleans today, or on yours. For up to four fish.


  • a rainbow or other small trout per person, gutted and cleaned
  • enough water to cover the trout
  • some sliced carrot
  • some peeled and sliced onion
  • about ½ lemon sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or a couple of sprigs fresh
  • some whole peppercorns
  • salt


  1. Bring everything but the fish to a boil and simmer the courtbouillon for about ½ hour.
  2. Slide the trout into the stock and simmer them until just cooked, usually in no longer than 6 or 7 minutes.
  3. “Serve the trout,” as the vicomte advises, “with a little melted butter and plain boiled potatoes.


-He also recommends keeping the stock for soup, and you should.

-If you cook more fish, add more ‘aromates’ in proportion.

-De Mauduit would fit right into the contemporary craze for the freshest foraged ingredients:

“Go and catch the trout, bringing back a water-tank with you. When caught, put the fish in the tank to keep them alive, then transfer them to the simmering stock…. ”

-Apparently the vicomte believed that trout, like woodcock, require no cleaning.

-And where, in rationed wartime, did he find that lemon?