Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Steak and Chips - - and that's all I want

I don't like complicated food, in general.

One of the things I liked about the food in France its simplicity.

I had a couple of lunches here:

The unpretentious-looking and strangely-named Pomme de Pain, just across the road from the almost unbelievably posh and beautiful Hotel Concorde Saint-Lazare:

I asked for a baguette Parisien, which is a baguette with ham, and a raspberry tart and a Diet Coke and here they are:

The baguette with ham was a fresh baguette. With good quality butter. And excellent ham. Nothing else.

The raspberry tart was a tart. With raspberries. Delicious.

In the evenings I ate here:

On Rue d'Amsterdam, just near the Gare St-Lazare.

Inside it looked more like a cafe than a restaurant:

The waiter was friendly, the service was excellent. I asked for steak and chips with a green salad and here it is:

You see the pattern? Does that look like steak, chips and a green salad? Oh yes it does. With chunks of fresh baguette and some butter as a bonus.

It was, seriously, the best steak and chips that I have ever had, only equalled by the steak and chips that I had in the same place the previous week. (I returned a week later on a purely investigative mission to find out if they could always cook them that well. They could).

I think that the French have learned something about food that many British haven't.

They can do simple food, cooked well, and they don't think there's anything wrong with that: there's nothing to be ashamed of in the simplicity of it.

In other eating establishments nearby, they did more complicated food, and for those who like that, I'm sure it was really good.

Whereas the British think that, in order to be good, food has to be complicated.

So in Britain a ham sandwich would have mustard or pickle or mayonnaise with it, whether you wanted it or not (and I didn't want it, thank you). And steak and chips would have some leafy bits, and some shredded beetroot, and peas, and mushrooms, and half a tomato - - but the steak and chips themselves just wouldn't be as good. Why not? I don't know. Except, as a French lady said to me last weekend, the French just won't put up with bad food.

Which is why you can go into the most ordinary-looking little cafe in France and eat something that's excellent. And is also why in Britain there is a vast assortment of dull and badly-cooked food.

I think it's time that, as a nation, we stopped settling for it.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

I must say that I have travelled widely in France and have often had very ordinary, disappointing meals. I just think you were lucky. You would be hard pressed to find a decent curry house in France. Britain has some of the best in the entire world.

10:04 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

You mean there are places other than McDonald's in Paris? I shall have to take this up with Silverback!

2:39 am  

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