French Food – Putain Merde

Jun 15, 2016 by

French Food – Putain Merde
Crepidules in a “risotto” (the worst and most expensive meal)

French food. The pinnacle of food. The food the rest of the world aspires to. Food the rest of the world compares it’s own to. Food that has an aura. Food beyond criticism. The best food in the world.

Finally after many visits I flipped.

But thinking back, I couldn’t think of a good meal I’d had – on any of my visits. I’d been intimidated into not admitting that actually the restaurant food is not very good. Intimidated by the reputation. Intimidated by those-that-know-about-food-who-say-it’s-the-best-food-in-the-WORLD.

Well it’s not. Not by a long shot. Not for a long time. In fact, it’s very mediocre and the service is even worse and the uppity attitude of those serving is insufferable.

Great coffee, good baguette, confiture and an intrepid visitor

But French produce is the best in the world. French supermarkets are amazing. Small French cafes that serve simple food like crêpes and galettes are fabulous. French bakeries are off the scale. French touristy cafés that serve coffee (even though they screw you for a grande crème ) serve great coffee, they also serve great dressings on good salad. But after that it goes downhill rapidly.

Road kill and a bearnaise out of a packet with a bloody awful aftertaste, frites in a basket…

And I’m talking about across the board – tourist traps, up side streets – up your arse restaurants as well as normal restaurants populated by locals. It doesn’t matter. You NEVER get any vegetables with your meal apart from overcooked limp green beans. I have searched menus to find them listed as sides and I have failed. You get goats’ cheese as a starter in every restaurant, f*cking duck every which way on every menu in the country. You get “steaks” (road kill) tough, chewy, grizzly and tasteless, small “turned” potatoes that are as appetising as a bar of soap, pink sausage type (all it needs is a face) meat.

Turned soapy potatoes served with rice?

To be fair the meal pictured above apart from spuds and rice on the plate and no vegetables was actually very good and was the cheapest we had – €11 for 3 courses! The fish was beautifully fresh and perfectly cooked and the sauce was so good I wanted to pick up the plate and lick it. I also had fish served so stale and overcooked I should have gone into the kitchen and hopped it off the chef.

Galette with emmental, ham and egg

When in Brittany you have to try a galette. They never disappoint. In fact you could probably live on them.

Another thing I have observed over the years – do not under any circumstance order a foreign meal – risotto, carbonara, pizza, gnocchi because what you will get will not bear any resemblance to what you expect. In fact the French are so bad at foreign food it is almost a parody.

Very strange gnocchi on Brittany Ferries

However, the buffet selection on Brittany Ferries was amazing. The desserts particularly. I went into a sugar coma afterwards.

 

 

 

Those prawns……..

In conclusion, I think the way to go in France is self-catering. Buy fresh crusty bread and patisserie in a small local bakery, buy fish and vegetables in a market, buy cheese in a cheese shop, buy some of the best charcuterie in the world, and spend hours wandering around a huge Carrefour. Then nab a local and bribe them to tell you the best restaurants in the locality and go press your nose against the window for at least two nights before you try it (lèche-vitrine).

 

Poissonnerie -fabulous fish shops

 

Wonderful greengrocers but supermarkets just as good

 

Only in France – a dedicated butter shop

 

Weekly market in St. Malo

And on the way home finally a great meal in a gastropub – Harte’s in Kildare with pleasant, efficient service.

Moroccan chicken lemon and tahini dressing, sweet potato, bulgar and kidney beans

I actually think restaurant food in Ireland has far outstripped France – across the board. Where we have yet to catch up and catch up quite a way – is reintroducing good bakeries, fishmongers, specialist food retailers, in every rural town. We are quite a way behind in this respect.

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