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NYT Articles on Food, Drink, Cooking, and Culinary Culture (2005–2011)

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Very nice article like to see people's hard work pay off congrats . :biggrin:

that's also the scene in NYC the place's to go to for good comfort food like Lupa

Spotted pig , momofuku's ,Bar stuzzechini ,Sfoglia ,Gemma , Morandi ,Insieme and Company

Once again congrats to all mentioned in this article.


Con il melone si mangia , beve e si lava la facia

My Nonno Vincenzo 1921-1994

I'm craving the perfct Gateau Foret Noire .

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I, as many of our loyal France Forum members must have, read the November 27th IHT article by Michael Johnson, whose other fall contributions to the New York Times-lite have been on the piano and Stendhal, entitled “Want a good French meal? Don't go to France” and ignored it. (The print media are in bad shape, I know.) For “simple, honest cooking” in a “mid-range restaurant” he suggests we’d be better off in (gasp) the US.

I was inclined to let it drop until a respected friend, food critic and eG member asked me: “Did you see the badly written story……?” and I could no longer ignore it.

I don’t quite see it the way Johnson does. I look at some fine new mid-range places I’ve been to, just in the past month – Jadis, la Table d’Eugene + l’Assiette – and I challenge the NYT/IHT to come up with equivalents in the US delivering such food at under 100 € a couple including tip, wine and coffee.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I agree with you John. In NYC, certainly, it's very difficult (especially if one is drinking French wines :smile: ). Places like Redhead, Back Forty, 'inoteca and the like all offer good price/value...but there's no way they're offering the inventiveness of a place like Eugene. As good as the fried chicken is at Redhear, it's fried chicken. And Ssam Bar, where a good meal can be put together and come in under the limit, offers even less in the way of service and comfort...but it is where one will find the most thrilling combos.

Of course, you can have brilliant food (at lunch) at Jean Georges, Perry St., and other wonderful places that have been well documented.

In San Francisco, it may be possible - we had a wonderful meal at Canteen, that I believe may have come in right at that price point.

Japanese food may be the real way it's possible here in NY. The tottos are well known to deliver outstandingly tasty food at reasonable prices.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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For once, I think the article is spot on.

Not very well written perhaps, but not worse and certainly better than dozens of IHT or NYT articles that have been linked here in the past, either romanticizing the French dining scene, or gaping in amazement at the so-called "French paradox" (since when has eating normally been a paradox?), or speculating on why (affluent) French women (from the cities) don't get fat, etc. This one, at least, has the virtue of concision and certainly hits the nail.

It is true that the quality of mid-range and everyday dining in France and particularly Paris (which is the place I know best) has decreased spectacularly in the last years. Finding a reasonably priced, above-average meal has become an exception. The "je m'en foutisme" and "c'est pas ma faute" syndrom is a true fact, and three of us diners - all egulleters - experienced it again four times in Paris in the last 48 hours. One of us named "je m'en foutisme" as an explanation even before any of us had read the article.

I think another problem is that French chef have forsaken tradition for "creativity." "I have to control a lot of my young chefs who are too eager to be creative," Robert says.

This is spot on too, and too rarely acknowledged. The pursuit of creativity has been steadily killing French cooking for some time, throwing into oblivion many of the tours de main, techniques and recipes that have made French cuisine one of the tastiest, smartest and most civilized in the world. And sent many young cooks and chefs scratching their heads on how to secure three slices of zucchini on a swing on top of a slate cube in order to attract Michelin attention instead of mastering the art of jus, fonds, feuilletages, proper roasting of meat, cooking vegetables right, using cream, mixing tastes artfully, making a blanquette or a miroton — simply, cooking food for people to eat. What is called in French faire à manger.

It grieves me to say so because it might be fuel for outside reactions of the "France is through" type which personally I don't agree with, but I completely agree with the author of the article, although I would like to point out that it is still possible to find good food. But it is no longer as common and cheap as it used to be, and worse: it is no longer obvious, and is less and less part of our culture.

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...I completely agree with the author of the article, although I would like to point out that it is still possible to find good food. But it is no longer as common and cheap as it used to be, and worse: it is no longer obvious, and is less and less part of our culture.

Ahhh, but that's true in New York as well. It's also why the largest growth segment of the grocery industry is food that's ready to eat...people don't cook at home as much either.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I don't know the NY food scene well enough, but I would argue that the average quality of meals in France and in particular in Paris is plain bad. And I don't only mean middle range dining. The lack of serious, in my opinion, has spread widely and I recently argued that even l'Ambroisie was not spared. The most reliable restaurant in Paris is Guy Savoy but it is because of the scenography, not the food. Outside of Paris, I find that only some "dinosaurs" and a couple of extraordinary places can actually be trusted. Now to the extent of my limited international experience, Germans and Italian are still taking fine dining and good food much more seriously than the French do.

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My experience of eating in France has only be gained over the last four or five years thus I don't have any memory of how good it used to be. I may have been lucky but I tend to find I choose good restaurants (across all types/prices) approx 80% of the time in France versus a hit rate of maybe 30 to 40% in many other countries - even when using similar selection methods.

In essence I feel that the median level of cooking in France is still higher than many countries. Other countries are getting better and so it becoming easier to find good food, but remember they are coming off a very low base. As a result a few good restaurants get lionised and great trends are predicted (but we are still waiting).

The UK is a prime example: a massive increase in food literacy; lots of feted restaurants (and a few very good ones); and critics heralding the dawn of a new era. However, the reality is that outside London you need to travel a long way for good food, and need to be very wary of places with good reputations. Even London is patchy, much better than it was, but still lots of room for improvement.

One observation I would make is that the reasons cited for the decline in standards in France are exactly the same as are cited for the decline in standards in other countries i.e. lots of young British chefs are simply chasing Michelin stars and have not served apprenticeships to learn the basics.

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It’s been four years since I last visited France, but I recall the one thing that amazed me was how, with only a modicum of effort, I could find a great, cheapish meal. 35e at Les Adrets in Lyon got me a meal that would easily have cost $200 in Canada at the time. I had similar experiences in almost every town I visited on that trip. But this did take some effort. I terrible meal in Dijon taught me that lesson early on in the trip and I was better for it. I can’t help but think that many of these complaints come from a lack of adequate research or from those who are intimately familiar with all the mediocrities of France who come to New York and hit all the culinary highlights missing the plethora of terrible restaurants.

I think the above complaint about young French chefs being too focused on creativity applies as much here in NYC as it does in France. How often have we seen, on the boards nonetheless, traditional and “correct” French cooking get savaged? The pressure may not be from Michelin, but it exists in New York. There is a tremendous pressure for young chefs to be creative and strike out on their own here. This is the price of a vibrant, educated dining public. The same forces that give us the Momofukus also give us a number of unsuccessful restaurants by young chefs who try and make their mark too soon (call it the Top Chef disease). This could be the reason I find it difficult to find a good sauce in New York outside of the restaurants that are outside of my price range. And New York is easily the best food city I've ever lived in.

Two weeks ago in Montreal I had a tremendous four course meal at La Colombe for about $40 Canadian. My venison, in a rich, deep demiglace was everything that I love about French cooking. Montreal is a great city for culinary value. The art of the stock and the fond is not lost there. But, to get to La Colombe, you have to push along Duluth past some of the worst restaurants that I’ve ever experienced.

So, from my limited experience, I’ve easily found value in France, Montreal and NYC. I’ve also lived or spent significant portions of time in the past few years in DC, Toronto and Boston (which the city the article focuses on). How many good value restaurants have I found in those cities? Compared to the aforementioned places, zero and that’s not for lack of effort. Good food is hard to find wherever you go. But until you can get a good, reasonably priced meal outside of a few select urban centers, I would suggest that we don’t proclaim France dead quite yet.

My experience of eating in France has only be gained over the last four or five years thus I don't have any memory of how good it used to be. I may have been lucky but I tend to find I choose good restaurants (across all types/prices) approx 80% of the time in France versus a hit rate of maybe 30 to 40% in many other countries - even when using similar selection methods.

In essence I feel that the median level of cooking in France is still higher than many countries. Other countries are getting better and so it becoming easier to find good food, but remember they are coming off a very low base. As a result a few good restaurants get lionised and great trends are predicted (but we are still waiting).

The UK is a prime example: a massive increase in food literacy; lots of feted restaurants (and a few very good ones); and critics heralding the dawn of a new era. However, the reality is that outside London you need to travel a long way for good food, and need to be very wary of places with good reputations. Even London is patchy, much better than it was, but still lots of room for improvement.

 

One observation I would make is that the reasons cited for the decline in standards in France are exactly the same as are cited for the decline in standards in other countries i.e. lots of young British chefs are simply chasing Michelin stars and have not served apprenticeships to learn the basics.

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My experience of eating in France has only be gained over the last four or five years thus I don't have any memory of how good it used to be.

I'm not sure why I, the Yankee, am defending French chefs, so much, but I think as the "oldest living Civil War veteran," the idea that the 1930's and 1950's were "the glory years" and "we've lost the touch" really misses what is good when it works; good product, a respect for, but not hide-binding, of tradition and good price-quality which our friend Pierre keeps pounding away at. Come on youngsters, the Good Old Days weren't all that good - frites were soggy, tomatoes yuck and bread industrial.

I too love Perry Street + Mary's, both of Bilboa's great museum restos and pretty much everything within 40 km of Girona/Gerona, a lot of great Slow Food places in Italy; but like Pti I'm not quite willing to say "France is through". A "kick in the shins" as another of my friend/colleagues said, is deserved, but like Mark Twain, I think "The reports of [its] death have been greatly exaggerated."

The French are, unfortunately, great lovers of morisité and schadenfreude; buck up, suck it up, we'll survive.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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The French are, unfortunately, great lovers of morisité and schadenfreude; buck up, suck it up, we'll survive.

I beg to differ, John. This has nothing to do with loving morosité and making general comments about "the French" leads nowhere. It's about refusing morosité, and there is indeed nothing to be cheerful about in today's French restaurant scene. This decrease in overall quality and disappearance of the truly reasonable and palatable meal is unfortunately very real. And I need not mention how prices have rocketed.

Bistrots, not so long ago, weren't hip, overpriced places which critics and bloggers hunt down and pounce on as soon as they appear — they were unpretentious, cheap or at least moderate places cooking real food for working people having lunch. Ironically, places like that have gradually disappeared as the "bistrot" hype was rising. Even today's "bon rapport qualité-prix" is hardly as honest and functional as it was then.

There is a restaurant problem in France nowadays and I believe the author of the article speaks honestly of it, though I can't verify how his comparison with French chefs in the New World is justified.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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I think another problem is that French chef have forsaken tradition for "creativity." "I have to control a lot of my young chefs who are too eager to be creative," Robert says.

This is spot on too, and too rarely acknowledged. The pursuit of creativity has been steadily killing French cooking for some time, throwing into oblivion many of the tours de main, techniques and recipes that have made French cuisine one of the tastiest, smartest and most civilized in the world.

We may have the opposite problem here in Italy. Slow Food, with all of it's good intentions, has created a "rite of tradition" which seems to have removed the need for experimentation from modern Northern Italian cooking. Sure there are exceptions like Combal Zero in Turin but what we are generally eating here are the same dishes we have always eaten but plated in the modern style. Fortunately, because labor prices are still reasonable here there is still a great deal of hand-work in Italian cooking so you really get the sensation that the food has been made by the hand of a real and (hopefully) caring chef. At least the prices are quite reasonable, we usually pay between 20 and 30 euros for half-a-dozen hot and cold antipasti, a pasta course, a main course, a cheese course, desert, coffee, water and a grappa. Wines usually begin at 8 euros with few over 25 euros.

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We may have the opposite problem here in Italy. Slow Food, with all of it's good intentions, has created a "rite of tradition" which seems to have removed the need for experimentation from modern Northern Italian cooking.

I just finished reading Living in a Foreign Language by Michael Tucker: Atlantic Monthly, NY 2008 and I must say it reminded me of why I like this sort of food.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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We may have the opposite problem here in Italy. Slow Food, with all of it's good intentions, has created a "rite of tradition" which seems to have removed the need for experimentation from modern Northern Italian cooking. Sure there are exceptions like Combal Zero in Turin but what we are generally eating here are the same dishes we have always eaten but plated in the modern style. Fortunately, because labor prices are still reasonable here there is still a great deal of hand-work in Italian cooking so you really get the sensation that the food has been made by the hand of a real and (hopefully) caring chef. At least the prices are quite reasonable, we usually pay between 20 and 30 euros for half-a-dozen hot and cold antipasti, a pasta course, a main course, a cheese course, desert, coffee, water and a grappa. Wines usually begin at 8 euros with few over 25 euros.

And, frankly, who needs more than that?

Experimentation/innovation is fun and exciting; some of it does find a way into mainstream practice on a larger scale and the best of that lives on, and becomes part of the history of cooking — which is a long steady line of innovations; for instance puff pastry and beurre blanc were innovations once.

But innovation for innovation's sake - a recent, and IMO dated, phenomenon - is a different matter: one may wish for it, one may desire it, feel excited by it, but who really needs it in the way one needs good food to keep living a balanced life?

Also - a much overlooked point I believe - the ability to innovate is a rare human quality. It is a form of talent. Not everyone has that talent. You can prize innovation, admire it, but you can't institutionalize it and make it mandatory for everybody. Now, everybody is expected to innovate and the fact that very few actually can never seems to be recalled. But institutional innovation becomes boring academism even before you've had the time to breathe, while a good traditional dish in its best expression is never boring or academic. Some restaurant critics will dismiss a good table with the condescending words "zero innovation", or rather will excuse themselves for having had a great time while the food was not particularly creative. But it is like expecting everybody to be Picasso when being a very good construction painter is no less noble and useful, and in its own way generates as much happiness for mankind.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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The "je m'en foutisme" and "c'est pas ma faute" syndrom is a true fact, and three of us diners - all egulleters - experienced it again four times in Paris in the last 48 hours...

Could you please translate this French for me?

On my part - I think there are places to eat in the world other than New York (and Paris - the NYT sometimes acknowledges the existence of the latter :smile: ).

I am not sure why. But - as I have gotten older - I have become much more appreciative of simple preparations of wonderful ingredients - as opposed to creativity simply for the sake of creativity. 20 years ago - the creative stuff by chefs like Robuchon still tasted like delicious food. Today - I find more often than not that "creative" means I have to think about it more than I enjoy how it tastes.

But there are many places to find food like this. Large parts of the US (although I am particularly partial to the food in northern California and the Pacific northwest and BC in Canada). Japan. France and Germany on our last trips. I've not been to Italy for a long time - but I am a really good Italian cook - making my sauces from scratch (too lazy and it is too humid here most of the time to make my own pasta). And I'm sure all of you could add dozens of other countries/cities. I am particuarly partial to fish and things like sausages. Hence my appreciation for places like the western US - Japan - and Germany.

You know what I really hate. Going to a place and being told that I have to work and study to try to enjoy the food they're serving. Life is too hard these days (maybe it always was) to study how to enjoy my dinner. I am a decent home cook and one of my regrets in life is I don't have enough time to make things like veal stock. Robyn

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But it is like expecting everybody to be Picasso when being a very good construction painter is no less noble and useful, and in its own way generates as much happiness for mankind.

One thing that is interesting about Picasso - and probably useful when thinking about chefs and cooking and creativity - is that - as a young man - he was an extraordinary figurative painter before he started doing what we normally think of as "Picasso paintings". In other words - he could make a great buerre blanc before he did the painting equivalent of Fernan Adria. Robyn

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And, frankly, who needs more than that?

When all the restaurants serve the same dishes with only a few degrees of separation and alternative ethnic restaurants are few and far between, you begin to crave something a little different from time to time. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Piemontese cuisine but how many times a week can you eat agnolotti?

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And, frankly, who needs more than that?

....you begin to crave something a little different from time to time.

Well put. I never like the binary argument of traditional versus innovative, I see that there is a need, and room for a very broad range of cooking styles. When I think two of the best meals I have enjoyed I find it hard to choose between L'Auberge de L'ill and the Fat Duck. Both superb for very different and contrasting reasons. Life is so much richer for the variety.

I would argue very strongly that innovation is not a very dated phenomena, in fact I would argue that one of the problems with a lot of French cooking is the lack of innovation especially in the middle ground of cooking in cities like Paris. Is French gastronomy constrained by an inate conservatism, the sense of heritage and tradition? In Spain I see a great balance between respect for tradition and the celebration of modern innovative cooking which results in a very healthy, vibrant food culture. Do the French dining public constrain the ambitions of the truly talented and therefore snuff out the passion in young chefs?

I love France for this traditionalism and the respect for historic food culture, I love the small markets and the strict controls of production, I love classic bistros and brasseries. But is this the love of France the "museum" rather than France the vibrant, innovative nation? It is an interesting paradox that French technology is world beating in many areas, but food must be traditional.

I also disagree with Robyn's conclusion that innovative cooks are not masters of solid technique. From my experience of restaurants like Mugaritz, El Bulli, The Fat Duck and Maze, these chefs have a very strong grasp of classic techniques on which they build their innovation. A lot of the techniques these types of chefs use are extrapolations of classic techniques. They may be using different ingredients to stabilise sauces or create gels but this is only possible because the chef has a deep understanding of how all of the ingredients work together.

Maybe I have been lucky but I have never felt I had to "study to enjoy my diner". my experience has been quite the opposite, the innovative chefs have usually produced whimsical and amusing food that is designed to bring elements of surprise and fun into the meal.


Edited by PhilD (log)

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Well put. I never like the binary argument of traditional versus innovative, I see that there is a need, and room for a very broad range of cooking styles. When I think two of the best meals I have enjoyed I find it hard to choose between L'Auberge de L'ill and the Fat Duck. Both superb for very different and contrasting reasons. Life is so much richer for the variety.

Stating that I could express a love of traditionalism versus innovation in such a binary way would be misreading me not a little.

I am by no means a traditionalist. For instance, I am of the mind that Ferran Adria is one of the two or three greatest chefs alive (reasons would be too long and complex to write here). However, though I do not worship tradition, I do know the exact value of some of it, as compared to the pointless fuite en avant (blind rush forward) that the stress on systematic innovation has brought into French restaurant cooking. And the latter, indeed, may be hype, or an economic asset, or just plain conformism (a little-studied fact), or just the paradoxical but very real notion that everybody should be original in the very same manner, but it may by no means be considered a need. Unlike the actual, natural process of innovation in cooking which is merely its evolution process.

Not to mention, of course, a large number of absurd, unbalanced, self-conscious, gimmicky, overpriced and sloppy restaurant meals where "la forme" has been preferred to "le fond". This number is rising and yes, I am worried about that

I respect innovation as it should be respected — as a phenomenon that has always been part of the history of cooking. I think I made that quite clear. The distinction between innovation in itself - which is a permanent element of cooking throughout the ages - and the contemporary worship of innovation eclipsing other more essential qualities - which is, as I wrote, a dated phenomenon and one that will probably not last forever -, is essential.

It is the frenzy of innovation for innovation's sake, throwing back values like taste, coherence, and pleasure into secondary status, that I think is dangerous and might well, at length, harm the very practice of cooking, period. When innovation is considered the first, or even one, valuable criteria, yes, that is harmful and the effects are visible everywhere, from the dreadful display meals prepared by écoles hôtelières for journalists, all verrines (anything served in a glass), sophisticated plating, and botched up tastes and textures, to the totally boring "performance" cooking put forward by some young French chefs who openly declare working only for the Michelin stars (I met some), not forgetting innumerable, tasteless, perfectly plated, perfectly glassed, and perfectly insipid dishes that have invaded the mainstream food landscape, in collective catering for instance.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Bear in mind that it has been three years since we were last in Paris...

I was discussing this thread with my wife today and after I explained the topic she replied, " they just need to go where the common people eat". Simple enough I thought. So what about the common restaurants in Paris? Can you find your cassoulets and daubes there? I can appreciate that higher-end restaurants are in pursuit of the avant-garde to help justify a bigger price tags but what about the back-ally bistros? Have they all gone Hollywood too? We used to love to go to Clignancourt looking for antiques and eat at the little bistros. The food was always traditional cheap and good.

Also, I can't help thinking that there will eventually be a reaction to all of this pretentious cuisine and I can't imagine Parisians will ever forget their traditional cooking. Dining in Paris has always been subjected to fads, I still remember 20 years ago when there was a cous-cous restaurant on every corner. Hopefully this too shall pass.

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I also disagree with Robyn's conclusion that innovative cooks are not masters of solid technique. From my experience of restaurants like Mugaritz, El Bulli, The Fat Duck and Maze, these chefs have a very strong grasp of classic techniques on which they build their innovation. A lot of the techniques these types of chefs use are extrapolations of classic techniques. They may be using different ingredients to stabilise sauces or create gels but this is only possible because the chef has a deep understanding of how all of the ingredients work together..."

I didn't say that (and I realize some of these chefs have excellent training and solid technique). But the restaurants you mention are basically "best of breed" (except for Maze - which I'm not sure is in the same genre as the other places). I have had the misfortune of dining in some places which were far from "best of breed" (maybe they were the "runts of the litter"). Robyn

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Bear in mind that it has been three years since we were last in Paris...

I was discussing this thread with my wife today and after I explained the topic she replied, " they just need to go where the common people eat". Simple enough I thought.

Indeed, that is the point: is it really that simple?

Judging by your and your wife's comments it sounds like it has been much longer than three years since you were last in Paris.

I do not know what exactly you mean by "common people" but the thought of not being just that never occurred to me. So if Mrs. Swiss Chef could tell me where I should go eat, I'd be delighted. Because it has become much more complicated than it was a few years ago.

To make a long story short, and to sum up what I have written extensively elsewhere and perhaps even in this very thread, the "common people" restaurant has vanished long ago. Now "common people" who cannot necessarily afford an overpriced néobistrot on a regular basis - but used to be able to afford lunch a regular bistrot on a daily basis when there was such a thing as a regular bistrot - eat lunch at their company's restaurant when that is available - and however common I am I cannot share that with them -; or ruin their health eating sandwiches hastily, or go to the MacDonald's or the like; or go to cheap, bad cafeterias; but the days when they were able to lunch on a navarin d'agneau at the corner bistrot for 50 francs, quart de vin rouge included, is long gone. Now this kind of fare is for the "bobos" and it costs 50 euros.

So what about the common restaurants in Paris? Can you find your cassoulets and daubes there?

The answer is no. The common restaurants in Paris, or those that can be thus designated, no longer sell cassoulets and daubes, and cassoulets and daubes, when they are at all served, are no longer served in common restaurants. Now that you mention it, I am not even sure where a daube may be found in Paris except in my kitchen when I decide to cook one. Cassoulet is less hard to come by (but seldom stellar. Paris never was the capital of cassoulet anyway.)

Dining in Paris has always been subjected to fads, I still remember 20 years ago when there was a cous-cous restaurant on every corner. Hopefully this too shall pass.

I hope the gods hear you. To quote Mrs. Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, "let us hope all this lunacy is just a trend".

But you're actually spot on when you mention the couscous restaurants. They are still there allright, fortunately. By the way they are not a fad but a permanent feature, being part of the French culture and related to the part of the French population (nationals or not) of Maghrebi descent, which whom France shares history as well as food. Although not so many of them are really good (but many are decent), they are the last refuge of "common" cooking (common being understood as "meant to be shared by everyone", "for the people"), together with many cheap, good Asian (I am not meaning the disastrous "take-away Chinese" places that have replaced charcuteries), African places, etc.

As a matter or fact, the best quality-price ratio in Paris and in many large cities is still intact at non-French restaurants. For 60 euro you order 6 dishes for 2 and have a scrumptious Cantonese feast at Likafo (a Teochew/Cantonese restaurant on avenue de Choisy); when the dishes arrive you never think you will finish them and you soon find out that you have wiped out every one of them. You leave the table contented, happy and not much poorer. This no longer happens in Paris bistrots, but it used to be common.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Ptipois - I was thinking of wriitng an answer like yours - but thought I didn't have enough experience to be credible. I can only say that after spending a week in Paris recently - I agree with what you say. There are some exceptions - like we had good omelets at a reasonable (for Paris) price in the 8th near our hotel.

But it is important to emphasize - for Paris. About 8 euros - 11 US dollars - for an omelet and some bread - that's it. Not even a sprig of parsley. By way of contrast - we have lots of places where we live where you can get the omelet and a side of meat (bacon/sausage) - grits or potatoes - some type of bread - and coffee or tea for about $6-7.

I think that average people in France earn about what average people in the United States earn - give or take a few euros or dollars - and the average American cannot afford to spend $11 for lunch every day at work (not to mention that the omelet plus bread isn't a meal many larger younger men would find satisfying). I suspect the average French person can't afford it either. Which is probably why McDonald's at La Defense was the most crowded restaurant we saw in the complex. Robyn

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