London mayor takes aim at French with cake jibe
The mayor says Britain would always beat France in attracting big business as their people have an instinctive flare for innovation.Davos – London mayor Boris Johnson took a gastronomic pot shot at the French on Thursday over attracting big business, saying Britain would always beat France -- using cakes as ammunition.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the eccentric former journalist teased President Nicolas Sarkozy for "seeking to have designs on London's pre-eminence in financial services".
The French leader gave the keynote opening address at the Davos conference on Wednesday, pledging to re-design the global economic architecture when his country takes over the Group of 20 (G20) presidency next year.
"Well I say to him that he should look to the safety of his cake industry," he said, citing the case of a London cake and pudding maker, Gue, which he said sold five million pounds' worth of its products to France every year.
The "genius" of the British company was to give itself a foreign-sounding name, fooling the French -- who are notoriously proud of their gastronomic tradition, he said.
"The French consommateur would not readily be persuaded to buy 'Waltham Forest cake,' and so what did they call it? 'Gue' -- thus bamboozling the poor people of France into thinking that it was Austrian cake.
"That instinctive flare for innovation, for value-added, that means in my view London will always be the place for cutting-edge service industries," in particular for the finance sector, he added.
He concluded: "To the French I say: Let them eat cake" -- the English version of "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," a reported put-down by 18th century French Queen Marie Antoinette when told that the peasants had no bread to eat.
Johnson was speaking at one of the numerous corporate-sponsored events held on the sidelines of the annual WEF meeting, which brings together some 30 national leaders with 2,500 business and cultural chiefs.
AFP / Expatica