Over the past 50 years, Britain and France’s food fortunes have reversed, says Jonathan Miller in The Spectator. British food was once “comically terrible”: you’d go for a date at a Wimpy Bar and be lucky to get a packet of crisps at the pub. Now the UK is “the land of foodie innovation, with every cuisine in the world represented, deconstructed, reinvented”. As lockdown ends, a “cornucopia” of gastropubs, diners, dim sum joints and tapas bars will return.
Across the Channel, though, the French have descended “from the top of the culinary premier league to the relegation zone of shame”. Traditional brasseries are now “mere theatres”, serving industrially made pot au feu reheated by kitchen technicians on minimum wage. Employment codes make it too expensive to hire enough staff – and good luck finding a restaurant that’s even open, “given the limited hours and eccentric schedules of many”.
French eaters are also to blame: while the British have “shamelessly appropriated all the chefs and cuisines of the old empire”, the French show little curiosity for anything beyond steak and chips, cassoulet and duck confit. Aside from the kebab, which has been on a “relentless march” for 20 years. It’s known as the grec, and nearly a million are sold in France every day.
Ingredient of the week: goat’s cheese
Spring and summer are the best times to buy goat’s cheese, says Diana Henry in Waitrose Weekend. That’s when goats feast on fresh pasture – young grass, herbs and wild flowers – and this affects the flavour of the cheese. In the spring I make goat’s cheese tart and scatter chunks of mild goat’s cheese over asparagus. In summer “it can transform roast tomatoes” – scatter chunks on top and grill.