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Is French cuisine really the best in the world?

A Connexion reader challenges the country’s gastronomic credentials

French cuisine at its finest; ratatouille made of zucchini, aubergine, peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes Pic: margouillat photo / Shutterstock

Nick Inman made a good point about Gallic assumptions of gastronomic excellence in the July issue. French food, either from a supermarket or restaurant, is subject to the same huge latitude of quality in both its ingredients and preparation as anywhere else. 

Fruits and vegetables

Fruit and vegetable selections are generally limited and highly seasonal, although this is an instance of the French way of 'treading lightly' on our ravaged planet, and not demanding that exotica be flown halfway around the globe.

Regarding French cheeses, although there are some class acts, I have rarely seen a decent bit of Stilton for sale. Only an utter philistine would claim Roquefort is even in the same league.

Read more: Camembert, Roquefort, Brie: Can I bring French cheeses into the US?

Different meat options

However, my personal bête noire is French meat. Not only the quality but the preparation. Yes, I buy most of my meat in supermarkets, but I am frequently annoyed by the standards of basic preparation. 

Lamb, for example, has to be minutely inspected before cooking to remove shards of bone. As for beef, in many otherwise good restaurants, steaks are routinely tough and not enjoyable. It seems that before any bird or animal can be offered for human consumption, it has to have reached the absolute end of its productive life, no matter how old.

However, we should continue to celebrate the uniqueness of each country's cuisine and applaud those many dedicated producers and chefs who excel in their vocations (though they may shed a tear at never being able to compete with Nick's mum).

Paul Dinsdale

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