Is food taking the place of verbal expression?
For centuries France, the city of love has held the title for culinary mastership. In the past, Paris the most visited city in France received their delicious ingredients in their world renowned dishes from the countryside. This is no longer the case. Parisians grocery stores and markets are being supplied with products from all around the world. This could be the reason for the slight deviation from traditional French meals to more exotic international cuisines. The traditional Parisian meals are mainly based on Beef, veal, lamb or pork — braised or stewed. This is a part of the attraction of Paris, wonderful history, beautiful architecture, and it’s high quality cuisine.
But is this true? At the beginning of 2014 accusational headlines worldwide, announced that French cuisine is a fraud. The meals being served were not made in France, but in fact frozen cuisine from other European and Asian countries. Approximately 70 percent of the restaurants in Paris were using ready-made meals, yes the duck confit you were raging over could possibly be found at Picard for far less than you paid for the cook to reheat it. France’s stellar culinary tradition has been fading away for decades, the decline in cuisine evolution is partly to blame. The decline in Cheese and Wine consumption has dropped by more than 50 percent compared to past decades. Coca Cola has become the new glass of red wine. In fact, France has become McDonald’s’ second most profitable market in the world. The end of the 1980’s French food began its departure from being renowned and regal delicacy to old fashion, dull, and over the top for no reason stated by ex-food critics for Adrienne Gale.
“ I have been a sommelier for 26 years in and around Europe. I witnessed the self destruction of the Cuisines and wine in this region. This was once the most visited cities in the world, it would have been nice to say thank you in the early days by making a foreign dish or offering a foreign wine on the menu. The French pride of not seeing the value in anything not french is what has kept them in the stone age. The tour started to see last, hence the decline in tourism. Paris is no longer the number one most visited city”.
Has Paris become a Bah Humbug predictable food city? Upcoming Parisian Chefs Christophe Durant said “the real excitement is in Lyon, San Sebastian, New York, Rome, London, and Tokyo. The chefs in those cities aren’t afraid to be different. They want to put a distinct mark on their dish, like a trademark. In France when you are different you are wrong, it’s unacceptable… and I am French so I know”. Has France turn over a new leaf? Christophe Durant: Yes, the tourism has declined in recent years. Did you hear London is now the number 1 most visited cities? Outrageous! Because of the Friendly people and beautiful architecture.. The food there is horrible, you cannot eat buildings”. Was it the news of demotion that has caused France to step up to the proverbial plate?
Apparently it was, Paris is showing signs of rejuvenation, but too much surprise its not because of Parisian chefs its because of Young foreign chefs. The city’s most sought after dining spots are now owned and operated by young hipster chefs from around the world. Places like Au Passage, run by Australian, British, and a Filipino chef, similar to Bones, where chef, James Henry, who use to be the head chef for Au Passage is also Australian. One would think that these foreign Chefs would be collectively serving their native foreign dishes, but they are not. Except Daniel Rose, the American-born chef of Spring restaurant in Paris is serving traditional Mexican food.
These Bistronomes are serving cuisine with a perfected Western technique. Many young chefs around the world are coming to Paris to join the food movement going on here. Is the Bistronomy movement and these chefs reviving the artisanal spirit that has vanished from the French food culture? Yes, This is the electric shock not only Paris, but France needed. Composing fresh new menus based entirely on what’s available in the market on a given day and cultivating relationships with individual vendors, is what’s happening now in this new sector of cuisine. A local Vietnamese-American Chef in Boulogne Parisian suburbs “sourcing and finding purveyor is a nightmare, I am used to using one to two suppliers in New York or even Oregon where she is originally from”.
It could be worse in the 1990’s and earlier, the idea of an American, Mexican, Biracial Vietnamese, or Australian chef, owning a restaurant in France that serves French food would be a no go for Parisians. This concept would have been dismissed and laughed at. But the new wave of technology that has bridged the gave of time and space around the world, has sparked a yearning of adventurousness in Parisians. They are tired of the monotony of the same old thing night after night… day after day…
Let’s take a step back says Chef Roddrick Stein (Private house chef) “ Bistronomie isn’t a new concept, this movement began in the late 1990s. It came about because many new chefs wanted to own a restaurant but due to the economy, then could not afford to open the no longer necessary seal of approval Michelin star restaurant. Instead, they opened no fuse bistros like the ones in the American movies, serving upscale food at modest prices. But that was it, they ambiance was perfect, but the food was boring. So If anything we can say the movement is about the new freedom to cook how you want”.
Creatively renamed the “New Revolution” movement. Having the freedom to do whatever you like. Has given patrons today variety, and a burst of oxygen to the social settings.
“The Gastronomy is the strongest cultural movement right now in Paris,” Laura Wiess, of Popup, a new concept coming to Paris from the USA told me recently.“ Food is taking the place of music for this generation, what do people who remember feeling when they hear — Elvis, Guns and Roses, fab five Freddy, Big daddy Kane, Roots, Nas, U2, The police, The Beatles… — Yes, I know a strange mix of artist but these are only a few of the artists that stamped the soul of the world. Most people can tell you the date, time, what they were wearing, and where they were when they heard their favorite song from Queen, Beach Boys, or Frank Sinatra (bear with my Artist selection I am trying to cover everyone).That is what Food is doing in this generation. Music is losing its flare. The passion for a cronut surpasses the words from the song they downloaded on iTunes yesterday. This is because what’s being sung or rapped today is not entirely relatable and its sad and unfortunate”.
First, it was the Chefs who liberated the kitchens from the stuffy classicism of Escoffier in the late 1960’s. Now its the young patrons turn by taking control of France’s culinary Scene and changing the future by making it what they want on their own terms. What about those not on the same page with the new changes in the food scene? Many group the new found changes in the food revolution with the flood of fast food conglomerates coming from America. In the past ten years American food chains have been slowly creeping onto the streets of Paris. MCDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Bagelstein, Chipotle, Starbucks, Five guys, and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).
Is America to blame for the frozen cuisines that many Parisian restaurants were passing off as house maid? Edith Kailine a Canadian Expat agrees that “ French restaurants had no choice. They had to figure out a way to keep up with the menu request and rising cost of food. The economy tanked and everyone turned to fast food”. If this is true, and Parisian chefs and restaurant owners neglected their culture to make end meet; what’s to say it won’t happen again? Sommelier, Richard Giroldini “ I use to live in Paris, born and raised by Italian Parents. I left Paris in 1995 and moved to Chicago, mainly because my career wasn’t going anywhere. During the fifteen years I worked as a sommelier no restaurant wouldn’t even think of offering imported wine. But things change, as time went by, not that long after I moved to more and more menus started featuring wines from New Zealand, California, Chile… Paris started to open up.
What’s Next for the food scene?
Chef Christophe Durant believes “skies the limit, as long as we stay true to the movement by keeping our integrity as Chefs and by keeping the integrity of our product. Paris is a fresh new blank canvas, Chefs have Any Chef can come here and have the ability to connect through sharing of our individual stories on our own terms with any choice of ingredient will aid in helping to bridge and heal social and cultural isolation”.