French cuisine

It’s not all about French cuisine

Do the French still pour scorn on British food?  The answer is yes and no.

Many French people still cringe when they evoke memories of school visits to England. Say the word ‘jelly’ and a look of horror will appear on their faces. Soon you will hear tales of bright green peas flavoured with mint, sandwiches for nearly all meals and that nightmare of British culinary culture; boiled meat.

More favourable associations include ‘le five o’clock’, that quaint British custom, as the French see it, when everybody sits down to have tea and scones in the late afternoon. ‘Le petit déjeuner anglais’ also has it fans, although most French will stop at the idea of eating poached haddock at eight in the morning, even in the cosy comfort of a farmhouse bed and breakfast.

Of course, in Britain, it’s very chic to eat out in French restaurants and French bakers are becoming so common in London as to be almost unremarkable. Recently though the tide has turned and some typically British foods have been crossing the Channel.

When on holiday in France and eating out, you’ll often find the English term ‘crumble’ on the menu. Fruit crumbles have become a firm favourite in France, despite the fact that the French usually prefer cold desserts. Savoury crumbles are also popular and cookery books devoted to the preparation of crumble recipes can be found in the cooking sections of most French bookshops. By the way, in French the word is masculine. It’s ‘le crumble’, pronounced with a French ‘r’ sound, of course.

Typically, when adopting a British recipe, French chefs often add that little French touch, in order to ‘sublimer le plat’ as they say and thus make it their own. Somehow it always looks and tastes so much better!

Cheeses, such as cheddar, can now be found on French supermarket shelves, as can ‘les muffins’ and those beloved chocolate digestive biscuits.  Cottage cheese is probably just there as a sop to expatriates. I’ve yet to find a French person who has actually tasted it, yet alone liked it. Remember to ask for ‘le cottage’ when you’re seeking it out.

There’s still a long way to go before other British dishes climb to the heights of popularity achieved by ‘le crumble’. But, it’s definitely a start.

You can discover other recent food trends in France in Food and French, the latest Pocket Guide from Kolibri Languages.

Pam Bourgeois



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