French cuisine is due a renaissance – that’s the view of a writer in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. What’s more, she thinks the new wave of bouillons will lead the way.
I saw the article, Gone to pot, in the paper’s weekly round-up, which they give out free at Eurostar’s executive lounge at St Pancras. (I commute back and forth most weeks, so I get to use the lounge as a perk of my loyalty.)
The piece, promoted on the front cover, caught my eye.
Its writer, Wendell Steavenson, says she felt she spent her childhood in Michelin-starred eateries in France. Happily for her, her father had eschewed the powdered egg of post-war Britain for French feasts.
She says she sometimes felt she’d been brought up on the cross-Channel ferry.
“Happily for her, her father had eschewed the powdered egg of post-war Britain for French feasts”
However, as an adult, when she moved to Paris in 2006, she quickly became bored by the lack of variety in French restaurants.
Here, it must be said, she has a point. In Lille, every restaurant serves carbonnade flammande and potjevleesch. In the south west, it’s duck and foie gras.
She blames Unesco’s addition of French gastronomy to its list of the world’s ‘intangible cultural heritage’ for its fall from favour. French food became a museum piece.
Restaurants – themselves a French invention – became stale and samey.
Back in the 18th century, they’d competed against bouillons offering cheap broths of offcuts, husband and wife-run bistros full of neighbourhood cheer and brasseries with their beer and choucroute.
“I’ll be sure to test out her theory – but not this weekend. We’re in Barcelona”
Over the years, bouillons, in particular, almost died out. But now, Steavenson says, they are proliferating again.
This time around, they are clean and modern – and you can have a starter, a main course and wine and still have change from 20€. They may even prove the saviour of French dining.
I’ll be sure to test out her theory – but not this weekend. We’re in Barcelona, visiting a friend.
So, instead of French cuisine, we’re enjoying Spanish fare. It’s a hard life.