Those Wacky French

Look, I like and respect French cuisine as much as the next gourmand, but I think this is simple arrogance on the part of the French.

…around a half-dozen French chefs and culinary experts from the ad hoc ?French Mission for Food Heritage and Cultures? are preparing for war with weapons they know best.

They ate and drank their way through a three-hour strategy session recently to help their country face the daunting task before it: to persuade the United Nations to declare French gastronomy a world treasure.

Let me make this very clear: Gastronomy is an important part of each country’s cultural heritage. To imply or outright suggest that one is superior to another is the height of both arrogance and ethnocentrism. From my point of view, it also misses the point of gastronomy.

Food provides context, a historical reflection if you will, into a nation’s heritage. A great example is America’s fascination with the Dutch Oven, which gained popularity during the pioneer days 100 plus years ago. Or the Italians use of bread in their soup, providing evidence that the lower classes had to learn how to extend their foodstuffs. Or beer became prevalent in European countries that couldn’t grow grapes efficiently. I could go on, but I think you get the point. All food is culturally significant. From the article:

So by the time the roasted figs, the wine-macerated prunes, the chocolate mousse and the Earl Grey sorbet arrived in the private dining room of Guy Savoy, a chef with three Michelin stars, the men were in deep discussion about the magic of their country?s cuisine.

?It?s everything!? Mr. Savoy said. ?France is the only country in the world with such diversity!?

Except, Mr. Savoy, that figs and plums came from the Middle East, chocolate came from South America, Earl Grey came from South Central Asia (with a little help from the British), and sorbet came from Italy. The only French item listed above is the mousse, and even that has influences that extend beyond French History. Whipping eggs whites into a froth and adding flavoring is hardly a unique discovery.

Sometimes I think my own predilection for writing about anything except French cuisine is the result of the sheer arrogance they have about their food. This article only goes to cement that feeling.