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Even the French don’t like French food any more

Les grenouilles: pas bien. Getty

There are certain things so shocking “they can only be said by close friends”, says Sean Thomas in The Spectator. So given the French and the Brits are such old pals, I feel I can give them the truth: “I’m sorry, mes amis, but your food is the worst in the world.” Take the menu degustation, or tasting menu. This is the “essential emblem of aspirational French cooking” – yet invariably consists of “several long painful hours of elaborate dining faff”, as some middling chef “relentlessly strains, foams, quenelles, macaroons, and basically destroys 98 tiny dishes of quite decent ingredients”. And it’s all so repetitive, especially in the provinces. Having the same local speciality over and over again – foie gras, pickled duck colon, whatever – has become the “quintessential French holidaying experience”.

The locals don’t bother with it – they eat fast food like the rest of us. (“There are more McDonalds in France, per head, than anywhere in Europe.”) So why has la cuisine Francaise become so bad? The main problem is the “Great French Culinary Tradition”, which makes French people think they must be good cooks “by sheer ancestry”. They’re so pleased with their cuisine they’ve had it Unesco-listed, which means innovation is now impossible – try adding spice to a soufflé and you’ll be “locked up on Devil’s Island”. Thankfully, there is still one dish the French haven’t screwed up: the classic crumbly croissant, with jam and a good café au lait. It’s just a shame that to eat well in France, you need to “have breakfast three times a day”.