Civilisation : La Grande Bretagne et l’Europe
Has British food become trendy?
Greasy food, unusual, doubtful combinations, unattractive appearance: British food hasn’t got the best reputation. Even worse, according to some rankings, it would be the worst in the world. It seems like those clichés are hard to tackle. For many years, English cuisine seemed to be odd, not suitable for every palate; but things have changed now, many foreigners have a very different opinion. According to a study by Visit Britain (a British tourist agency) amongst 26.000 people in order to find out what tourists taste in British foods as found that Russians, Irish and Americans are the most positive, though French, Italian and Spanish citizens keep on giving poor reviews to British food. Besides, a majority of those people agree with the sentence: “I have always wanted to eat an English breakfast”. Russians are the most enthusiastic about it, while Germans are quite reluctant. The French however are average. And yet, English breakfast is somewhat surprising, consisting of: a hot beverage (usually tea), orange juice, toast with butter, jam and marmalade, but also baked beans, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, and sometimes black pudding. So of course, it might be an issue for some gourmets. This meal is not the only one suffering from a bad reputation; tourists are really reluctant to try the famous “jelly”. This sugary, colourful see-through jelly is England's pride and joy. Usually served in small glasses, this mixture is mostly prepared as a dessert, but sometimes it finds its place in the main course, as a side dish, with meat and vegetables. This is the reason why this union is pretty scary for French tourists, less used to sweet and savoury food. British cuisine also has to deal with another cliché: the high use of fat, and particularly cooking oil. For that matter, even English people joke about their traditional fish &chips: some of them say the paper around it is better than the food itself. However, in the last decade, it seems like the trend tends to go to this cuisine, despite being criticised by a lot of people. A great majority of those people haven’t actually visited the United Kingdom yet. If we take another look at the Visit Britain study, tourists who came to the United Kingdom haven’t got the same idea when leaving. “Simple”, “surprising”, and
“different” are the adjectives they use the most to describe English meals. Indeed, despite some unpleasant combinations, English breakfast is “absolutely exquisite”. Brunch is only a variation of this breakfast. As far as fish and chips are concerned, lots of the French are crazy about them. This specialty is now served in some restaurants in Paris. On top of it, this English gastronomy has received quite a lot of starred chefs, such as Alain Ducasse or Hélène Darroze.
However, this elitist cuisine is not people’s favourite. In fact, after Marks & Spencer, the British fast-food chain Prêt à Manger has set up in Paris, near the Champs Elysées. The opening was of course a pleasure for English expatriates and tourists, but also for French citizens more and more fond of British specialties. As Maxime Bathier explain in his column in Le Point: nowadays, quite a lot of French people are willing to try Lancashire Hotpot, pies and cupcakes. According to Alice Quillet and Anna Trattles, anglo-french chefs at the Bal Café, there is two reasons to this trend: “we have noticed a come-back of the traditional and local meals in England, more and more revisited by young chefs”. They also add: “They have more freedom too; they have no obligations, while in France the cuisine is really settled”. We notice and understand very quickly that English food is now famous for its simplicity and the noticeable taste of its ingredients. Yet, English gastronomy has a complex history. Influenced by former British colonies like India, English meals often combine simplicity and exotic flavours. Both chefs insist on...
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