The Ratatouille Conspiracy

Remember when the food critic, Anton Ego, reviews the restaurant the young Linguini has just taken over in the movie Ratatouille? Anton, who looks like a geeky Count Dracula, is served ratatouille. His first reaction is to dismiss it as peasant dish, but after the first bite he’s overcome with childhood memories. Ego has a jell-o moment. The movie hints that restaurant critics are in fact human beings and not blood-sucking creatures, but it’s all a fiction of course – they do suck big-time in real life… err.. blood, I mean they do suck blood.

err.. I meant my blog!.. My blog suck! I’m a blog sucker!!.. eh? O..Okay? Don’t review my blog pleaase!

Umm.. I like ratatouille, both the dish and the movie partly because I can relate to the story. My training in Paris kitchens as an apprenti was far from smooth and I had to deal with quite a few psychopath chefs and women with intimidating knife skills. The ‘merde alors!’ and the ‘putain!’ as well as the ‘trou du cul!‘ yellings of the chef did contrast sharply with the refined environment of the dining room but when you belong behind the kitchen doors you learn how to survive no matter what. And i used to think Rambo was cool, which helped also.
And the food, ah the food! The food was sublime of course which made the torture kind of enjoyable.
Where I don’t relate to the movie is that I’m not a redhead, i never dated a Colette and I don’t talk to ugly rats and i don’t care what you say… they’re all ugly! They’re yucky and hairy, and dirty and i’m sure the little bastards can’t cook. If i ever find one stealing a piece of cheese from me, i will, i will… AAYYAHHHHH!!

eh… nevermind!

So what exactly is the ratatouille conspiracy?


If you pay close attention you’ll notice the dish prepared in the movie is really a Bayaldi and not a ratatouille. The sliced vegetables over the piperade gently ‘confit’ in the oven in olive oil and herbs is a dish called Bayaldi and was invented by Michel Guerard in the 70′s. Thomas Keller later adapted the recipe and you can find his version of ‘Confit Biyaldi’ here. Let me show you the difference.

For the Biyaldi, a pipérade is made of peeled and finely chopped bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. The piperade is spread in a baking dish, then layered on top with thinly-sliced rounds of zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, and roma tomatoes, covered in parchment paper, then baked slowly for several hours to steam the vegetables.


A ratatouille has the same basic ingredients but the vegetables are diced and sauteed first individually in olive oil, garlic and herbs then covered with parchment paper and stewed together in an oven at 350′F for about an hour.

The parchment paper is removed from the top of the ‘confit Biyaldi’ so that the vegetables may be roasted. Once it’s done it looks like this…

Once you remove the parchment from the ratatouille it looks like this… Not the same thing, huh? A ratatouille is every bit as delicious but more rustic…


The Biyaldi is then portioned and a balsamic vinaigrette with herbs and piperade is drizzled on the plate around it. That my friends, is the exact dish that leave food critic Anton Ego speechless. SO STOP CALLING IT RATATOUILLE, DAMNED!! I DEMAND THAT THE MOVIE BE RENAMED BIYALDI!!


Both ratatouille and confit biyaldi improve with age so it’s wise to make it a day ahead and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Ahhh, i’m feeling much better after all this ranting. Cheers!

A quick note on wine from our expert Kirstin over at Vin de la Table:

“First, Biyaldi, because elegantly arranged vegetable dishes are the royalty of the summer vegetable world, and instinctively go before loosely tossed peasant dishes. With Biyaldi, I’d go for something fresh, mineral, and high-acidity that would fare well with the layered, clean, summery nature of the dish. A lemony Prosecco or Cava would be perfect, as would a lean Vernaccia from Tuscany. Although Ratatouille would be just as delicious with the aforementioned whites as would Biyaldi, I for some reason want to enjoy it with a red, like a Northern Italian wine that aches for tomatoes, like a Barbera, Lagrein, or a rustic, light Tempranillo. Farewell, and long live Biyaldi, the cellar mouse.”

Don’t forget to visit her blog!

 

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  • Manggy

    Hey man! You’re back?! :) That Remy picture made me laugh out loud! Very timely joke, heh heh :)
    I’m not sure the movie may have attracted as many casual moviegoers (as in, those who are not just waiting for the next Pixar movie to come out, or kids) if it was called “Confit Byaldi”! For another thing, you won’t be able to sneak in the word “Rat!” But no matter what the name of the dish you’ve prepared here (yes… I know… confit byaldi), I would snap it up in a heartbeat! Gorgeous!

  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    Thanks for the clarification. Haven’t watched the movie, but no matter. I want that confit byaldi.

  • _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver

    Oh! When I saw the movie, I thought they were just “fancifying” the dish by doing the pretty slices. Liars!

  • Kirstin

    I’m sure that it was really ratatouille by default, like, when a thin hair of a rat gently falls into a biyaldi, it automatically becomes a ratatouille. Adds some peasant flavor, Thomas Keller likely supposed.

  • Michele

    Did you know that it was adapted from a Turkish dish called imam bayaldi (“the imam fainted”, presumably because it was so good)?

  • waliz

    ha, lucky i watched the movie already..so i knw wht u mean…!i though thy called it ‘rat’atouille because it has been made by the Rat!

  • Colloquial Cook

    Té, mon grand, si tu t’avises de faire de la ratatouille avé des aubergines japonaises, tu vas t’en prendre une, peuchère.
    Blague à part, biyaldi, tian ou rata, tu livres pour midi à Paris? Comment, non?! ;-)

  • Clumbsy Cookie

    The mouse with the lipstick made my day! Lollllll! I know you allways cook with a mouse over your head, don’t try to come here and pretend you don’t do it. All of you french chefs do it! I know it and thanks to the movie the whole world knows it! Don’t worry I won’t tell the big bossman.
    Anyway, I was a tag confused when I saw the movie beacuse I allways knew ratatoille and the diced vegetable kind, like the Spanish pisto ranchero. Thanks for clearing that out!

  • foodhuntress79

    Geeky Count Dracula and a rat with a lipstick- hahaha- I was taken by the humor of this post! But really, I don’t see the relationship between swearing in the kitchen and cooking food- and large egos- and blood sucking critics. Hey,we’re only cooking!

    What a colorful dish! :)

  • miss.cupcake.face

    Entertaining & educational all in one! You should be a teacher, although… that lipstick seemed a little Sidewalk Sally-ish to me… :)

  • Mary Coleman

    I love this recipe. I’m so glad you posted it. Perfect time of the year for this.
    The pic of Remy with the lipstick caused coffee to leave mouth unexpectedly.

  • Peter M

    I like your method with the parchment…you “smarteuse”!

  • Norm Schoen

    I did an adaptation that I presented as a “grilled ratatouille” :http://eatrdie.blogspot.com/2008/08/grilled-ratatoullie.html
    btw-you can flat ass cook!

  • rose

    I’m not a chef but I love to cook and I love your blog. Could you clarify something for me? What exactly is Confit? My French great grand mother use to make several dishes with confit in their tittles. Like duck confit. She simmered duck in rendered duck fat. Or chicken in chicken fat. And so I thought confit was something cooked in it’s like rendered fat. Would you clarify the word for me. Thanks

  • Adam

    Yo man, glad to see you back to work with the awesome recipes, and even a bit of cooking lesson. Who would of thought the title of Ratatouille is actually a conspiracy theory? I feel decieved… and the only rememdy is some actual ratouille, or maybe that nice apple tart you made.

    Ok, a football game and a beer would help too :)

  • My Sweet & Saucy

    I do always learn something from you…would’ve never known!

  • Darius T. Williams

    Sooo – who cares what it’s called right…just as long as it looks and tastes good. Yours qualifies!

    -DTW
    http://www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

  • Mike of Mike’s Table

    Ah, good to know…heck, I’d never even heard of biyaldi. Now I’m craving both–seems like another thing for the to-do list. They both sound delicious

  • Kate / Kajal

    i havent seen the movie yet :(
    I think the confit biyaldi looks way prettier :)

  • Psychgrad

    Oh cool. I didn’t know that. I think people have been confusing the two for quite a while. I recall people making a big deal about how Ratatouille did a good job of paying attention to detail, but this seems like a pretty big oversight. I propose, you start a letter-writing campaign to get the name changed. DOWN WITH RATATOUILLE!

    Or…don’t.

  • Lori

    We here at Recipes to Rival did Confit Biyaldi. I so thank you for that clarification. I was wondering why there was two names. I wish I had known before. But anyway both of yours look amazing! I say why did they not research this and put the real thing in the movie to begin with! Damn Hollywood! Oops I think that was my T and T talking.

  • §pinzer

    once again you’ve made me fall in love with you…r blog!

    am loving this post yum!

  • Angela

    Ah-Ha! I’ve always wondered why there were two preparation styles for ratatouille. Now I know, they are different dishes! Thank you. Gorgeous photos!

  • peter

    If they make a sequel, you should be a consultant. I’m sure you could handle all the trous du cul in Hollywood just fine.

    This is perfect for what my garden is producing right now.

  • Gloria (Canela)

    Dear Zen really love you!! and make me laugh a lot!! I love Remmy but you have reason!!! But your Byaldi is georgeous!!! love it!!! and the rat ja! with lipstick!! love too!
    Well, I love your dish and your pictures!! Thanks by make me laugh today!!! I think the blogs hoe your are wonderful!! xxGloria

  • Jan

    That looks so yummy! Love the post!!

  • cook eat FRET

    hiya – fun post. but all i can say to ratatouille or byaldi or any of it is that last year i joined a csa and i made it about 4 times – just to use up the produce that kept coming at me… now i can’t even think of eating it – i’m good for the next few years on that dish!

    but… great post. great pics. you are adorable…

  • Heather

    I need to use my summer squash and tomatoes badly. What would it be called if you bakes the Biyaldi with a bechamel poured over the top? Just gratin?

  • Christopher

    According to Wikipedia, Confit Byaldi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confit_byaldi” is a type of ratatouille.

    “Despite the delicate preparation and presentation, like most ratatouilles, confit biyaldi improves with age overnight in the refrigerator.”

    Confit Byaldi also appears on the page for ratatouille – “American chef Thomas Keller invented a contemporary variation, confit byaldi, for the 2007 animated film Ratatouille.”

    Perhaps the movie isn’t as inaccurate as you say – especially since Thomas Keller was the food consultant for the movie. He was asked how he would prepare ratatouille if a renowned food critic were to order it, and this is what he responded with.

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    “A rat with lipstick is still a rat.” You kill me.

  • TavoLini

    hahahahaha lipstick ;)

    I love that you made the distinction between the two–I do NOT have your training, (and have never heard the term Byaldi) but I was also slightly bewildered at the appearance of said “ratatouille” I’ve only had and prepared the rustic type.

    Byaldi looks like a meal worth tackling, though.

  • Zen Chef

    Manggy, Oh yea! See i almost forgot the movie is about a rat. :-)

    JS, go see the movie. It's good!

    TS, well they did fancy it up. Both versions are good though!

    Kirstin, I never thought about that! hehe. Thanks for the wine pairing. :-)

    Michele, really? Is that the translation? That's awesome. Thanks for making the point!

    Waliz, rats can't cook! C'mon!! :-)

    Claire, Shhhhh! Dis a personne que j'ai utilise des aubergines Japonaise. C'est un secret! ;-) Et pis non je ne delivre pas a Paris! hehe

    Rita, i've got a mouse on my head right now who's helping type. :-P

    Enrisa Marie, i know! Why are we taking ourselves so seriously all the time? Look at Zenchef, he doesn't care! hehe

    Miss cupcake! Yes, there was only one red lipstick available at the shop. Not the classiest either. hehe

    Mary, watch out with that coffee. Like i said before, this blog is not insured!! :-)

    Peter, smarteuse? Is that a Greek word?

    Norm, my ass is flat?? Is that what you're trying to say?

    Rose, there are two definitions for 'confit':
    1. Meat, such as duck, that has been salted and then cooked and preserved in its own fat.
    2. A condiment made by cooking seasoned fruit or vegetables, usually to a jamlike consistency.

    Adam, have a steak, watch a football game and drink a beer instead. hehe

    Sweet & Saucy, i'm glad! Thank you!

    Darius, thank you too!

    Mike, both are really delicious indeed!

    Kate, yes the confit Biyaldi looks pretty hot! :-)

    Psychgrad! YES! Let's start a petition! :-)

    Lori, they did research it for the movie. I'm just poking a little fun at them. hehe

    Mr Spinzer, thanks for stopping by! Did i ever tell you that picture is freaking me out! hahaha

    Angela, Thank you! and thank you again for stopping by! :-)

    Peter, i heard that before. Hollywood is made of 'trou du cul!'. hehe

    Gloria, you're too sweet! I'm glad it made you laugh. hehe

    Thanks Jan!

    Claudia, btw i emailed Food network! hehe. Thank you! Make this next year. :-)

    Heather, anything with bechamel over the top is a gratin! :-)

    Christopher, i was just poking a little fun. I know Thomas Keller consulted for the movie but i can tell you for sure he didn't invent the dish. The exact same thing was on the menu (as a side dish) of a 2star michelin i worked at in Paris back in 1994. It was already called Bayaldi (and as a previous commentor mentioned Bayaldi has its roots in middle eastern cooking, which i didn't know). Both dishes are similar for sure but the cooking method differs, the same way creme brulee is similar to pots de creme, but not the same. Thanks for your input!

    Susan, oops! Did i!? hehe

    Tavolini, try to make it one of these days. It's worth it! :-)

  • Tenina

    OH my dear Zen, how I love to settle in with your blog on Sunday nights and have a laugh and a drool! I am making a Bayaldi regularly and never knew it! I serve it as a salad cold and add avocado. It is beautiful to look at and delicious! SO now I know what to call it!

  • Nina Timm

    I loved the movie and I love Ratatouille. I also thought it was called that because of the rat!!! Brilliant dis and movie!!

  • Claude-Olivier

    heu, tu as aussi un lafite je ne sais plus quelle année ??? car il boit ca notre critique ! ciao

  • Emiline

    Such good information! I didn’t know any of this. The pictures are GORGEOUS.

    Sorry we didn’t get to meet up in NYC, but it was a hectic and crazy schedule! I didn’t have that much free time. I did tour culinary schools while I was there, and I’m definitely interested in going.

  • Chicopea

    I love all the colors going on in this dish. Thanks for sharing that with us Zen! I haven’t seen the movie but definitely want to now. I’m glad you escaped the women with the crazy knife skills!

  • Jenny

    I can’t believe with 2 little boys that I still haven’t seen Ratatouille. Your dish looks beyond incredible. Can’t wait to try it.

    Was in your neck of the woods last week. LOVE NY! Really want to go back. You been to Artisinal? I don’t remember the crossroads, but it was really great food.

  • §pinzer

    i know, you did ;)

  • Sweet Charity

    Hilarious post… totally bugged thew shit out of me too. Thank god for short memory.
    On the plus side, the label on the bottle of wine the critic drank is accurate, and the pairing is pretty fabulous.

  • We Are Never Full

    great post. love the “comics”. thanks for the lesson, too. beautiful dish!

  • Tartelette

    Looks like I need to make you my ratatouille :)
    Although I am weak in the knees looking at yours! Gorgeous!!

  • One Food Guy

    Ah biyaldi! It definitely looks much more elegant, I’d like to try and make that myself, it seems sort of easy. I have a mandolin that I can use to slice all the vegetables, and the assembly just takes a little attention. Great post! Thanks for the clarification, I’m going to feel smart the next time ratatouille is the subject of conversation!

  • Giff

    a rat with lipstick isn’t a hockey mom? wait what? kthxbye

    long live peasant food!

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