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French Food Goes Down - NYTimes.com


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Sad truth

"Which only means that restaurants in the home of la grande cuisine have become much like they are elsewhere. If you want a meal out featuring great ingredients prepared fresh and with skill you can find one, but you have to be very diligent, very lucky or willing to spend big; the vast majority of restaurants disappoint."

Even worse:

The people of France appear to have lost faith and even interest. They spend most of their restaurant dollars at chains, and they no longer trust that restaurants make a majority of their dishes themselves.

...

Sadly, they’ve devised just about the dumbest fix imaginable, the “fait maison” (“homemade”) logo, which looks like a roof over a skillet and is to be placed next to dishes that are made in-house. Of course the devil is in the details, and the law has several exemptions — including frozen food. Thus, farm-raised, antibiotic-laced, slave-labor-produced and frozen-and-thawed shrimp from Thailand can be legitimately logo-ized, as long as they’re cooked in-house, as can frozen vegetables from anywhere in the world — again, as long as they’re cooked in the restaurant that’s serving them.

I’ve nothing against frozen vegetables. (Oh, French fries are exempt from the exemption; you can’t put the logo next to potatoes unless you’ve peeled them yourself.) I’ve nothing against charcuterie that isn’t made by the chef serving it. I’m all for real cooking on the premises, too. But the question is not “where is it made?” so much as “how?” and “with what?”

Why is great restaurant food the exception not the rule?

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