Pan Bagnat: Very Nice

I suspected I was mispronouncing it as the syllables stumbled from my mouth — a fact confirmed by the bartender’s boisterous (but good-natured) ridicule. Perhaps if I’d finished culinary school, I would have known it was not pronounced “pan bag not.” But I did not, so I did not.

Fortunately, I was on my second mid-afternoon beer at Story restaurant in Prairie Village, and my wounded food ego recovered long before the “wet bread” (the French translation for pan bagnat) arrived at my bar perch.

A specialty of Nice, France, pan bagnat is pronounced (pan ban-YAH) and is basically a deconstructed Salade Niçoise. Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen’s version consists of tuna confit, capers, olives, artichokes, and a decadent deluge of olive oil on his house-made focaccia. It was an absolute mess to eat, but crisp, balanced, and thoroughly delicious. I ended up eating the second half Primanti-style, with a crispy French fry in each bite.

So what have we learned today?

  1. It’s pronounced (pan ban-YAH).
  2. French fries make any sandwich better.
  3. Beer heals a wounded ego.

Class dismissed.

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