Paris resident, chef, and chocolate expert David Lebovitz is stateside this summer, on a book tour for his latest cookbook. And after living in France for a number of years, he can’t help but compare the state of food in America versus the food in France. Guess which comes out the winner?
The food revolution that’s taken place in the past few decades in America has meant a number of excellent restaurants have opened everywhere … and it’s pretty amazing the quality of products that are available in America nowadays.
So it gave me pause to wonder why this kind of food is rarely, if ever, found in restaurants and most markets in Paris anymore. (Save for pricey, starred establishments.)
Oh, David admits to France’s culinary skill and heritage, but the upstart Americans may be beating their mentors at the same game. “While the French were resting on their well-earned laurels, garnered from mastering cooking techniques and developing various repertoires during the last few centuries,” writes David, “the Americans embraced the concept of cuisine du marché and took it to the next level by giving the ingredients more prominence than the techniques used to prepare them.”
Many of his musings have to do with the state of midrange French food, be it the offerings in the local supermarket, or the fact that most product is brought up from Morocco. The pinnacle of French cuisine continues to soar high, but what about the middle? “I simply can’t recall the last time in Paris that I … ate French Fries that were actually made with real, freshly-cut potatoes,” writes David. “And served crisp, cooked like someone cared about how they tasted.”
The post has elicited a number of comments, many of them in support and favor of French produce and cooking. “[T]here’s still plenty of exceptional cheeses, wines, sparkling-fresh seafood, chickens that taste like chicken and hand-harvested salts available in France,” writes David. “But when it comes to fruits and vegetables, why is it so hard to get a simple tomato salad in the middle of summer made with sun-ripe French tomatoes? … Are there everyday restaurants that feature vegetables that are locally-grown and cooked simply with care?”
Sign me up for the job of flying out there to find out. I mean, someone’s got to do it.