Friday, 27 July 2007

Gastronomic oddity

Gastronomes across the land have taken heart this week, following the publication of a survey revealing that the French - of all people - have voted the British the most adventurous eaters. Which I think we can all agree is a fine and richly deserved nod from our Gallic cousins.

The eagle-eyed will spot some flaws in this logic of course.

The first being that French cuisine, beyond the ubiquitous snails and frogs' legs - both of which I've had and both of which are, in all honesty fairly non-descript dishes - is hardly the most exotic in the world. When you can buy bags of crickets as street food in southeast Asia, and British film crews visiting China pop along to film and chortle at the restaurants that serve all penis, all the time, a bourguignon of this and a coulis of that seems, well, rather tame in comparison. Anybody brought up in a western culture can't be defined as having exotic and adventurous tastes by dint of having eaten something French. The concept of adventurous in this context is completely flawed.

Secondly, the Brits who holiday in France are precisely the sort who are going to want to try out the food. Don't let this survey fool you into thinking we don't have lumpen proles who eat nothing but chips. We just don't send them to France; they don't like the fancy foreign food so they go to Spain instead where they can get egg and chips and turn the colour of broiled lobster in a matter of fifteen minutes. Ergo, the survey is clearly biased in favour of the middle classes.

And it is the middle classes who we all knew were driving this - not unwelcome - fad for decent food in this country anyway. Everybody else is stuffing themselves on frozen pizzas and ready meals.

So really, nobody has learned anything.

But the Brits can feel a bit smug that the French have made a concession in their favour. And maybe that's the point.

In other travel news, nouveau-middle class Russians are edging out the Germans at several resorts in Turkey. And the Turks are all for it; it turns out that the Russians, having lived a goodly proportion of their lives under a barbarically stupid economic system, have very low expectations when it comes to what counts as good service. So bingo, the Turkish resorts can keep offering crap service, the Russians are content as long as there's sunshine and plentiful vodka, and as for the more discerning German tourists. It seems they can find another place to lay their towels. Everyone's a winner. Except the Germans.

No comments: