Skirmish in Anglo-French food feud
A British celebrity chef is stirring up an Anglo-French culinary spat with his claim that wine-lovers have better selection in British supermarkets than in some of France's finest restaurants.
British chef Rick Stein says French only hurt themselves by drinking French
"You've only got to go into any UK supermarket to see how enthusiastically we have embraced all the different wines of the world," television chef Rick Stein told this week's Radio Times magazine.
*quote1*"Meanwhile, the French stick doggedly to their own stuff, and while they still make the best, they're missing out on all those lovely Australians and New Zealands and Chileans they could be enjoying," said Stein, who recently returned from a tour of southwest France to research his latest television programme.
"The best French wines are still the best in the world," conceded Stein. "But for every one really good French wine, there are 10 bad ones," he added.
Do the French uncork too many of these?
But comments like these have been heard more and more often amongst international 'foodies' from long before the recent G8 summit. And they do indeed hit a nerve among sensitive French winemakers, who increasingly feel under siege.
The export market for French wine has been declining for several years against viticulturists from other wine-making regions. The phenomenon started in the low-cost category, but now even the premium wine categories has been invaded -- as the French tend to see it -- by foreign competitors, notably from both California and Australia.
Is Chirac sorry he started all this?
But Stein didn't stop with criticising the French tendency to drink French.
Stein, who appears on the BBC and whose award-winning restaurant is based in Cornwall, southwest England, also suggested that British regional dishes are just as good as their French counterparts, even though the French have a longer tradition as food connoisseurs.
"A well-cooked Lancashire hotpot or Welsh cawl (chicken and vegetable broth) is every bit the equal of a French cassoulet or a poule-au-pot," he said.
Take that, M. Chirac, who may well have lived to regret his joke at the expense of British cooking.
"We can't trust people who have such bad food," Chirac is reported to have commented.
The British expatriate press in France has speculated that Chirac's joke may have back-fired and helped lose Paris its Olympics bid in favour of London.
Copyright AFP with Expatica France
Subject: French news, cuisine, cooking, Rick Stein