• France edition
 
Anglos would 'be upset if Gallic gastronomy died'
One of France's top chefs says the country must protect its food culture. Photo: Valery Hache/ AFP

Anglos would 'be upset if Gallic gastronomy died'

Published: 17 Mar 2014 14:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Mar 2014 14:40 GMT+01:00

French gastronomy is so unique that Unesco took the step of ganting it heritage status. But times are changing it seems and French culinary habits and dishes and dishes are under threat, the country's top celebrity chef Alain Ducasse says. 

The French way of eating is one of the primary cultural and economic assets of the country and France must be "very, very vigilant" when it comes protecting that crucial bit of Gallic heritage, Ducasse says.

In an interview with French magazine L’Express, the renowned chef, whose global restaurant empire holds a total of 18 Michelin stars, said France can be seen as hedonistic or indulgent for its way of eating.

“I know of no other people in the world able to spend as much time around a starter, main course and dessert menu and have as main topic of conversation what we ate the day before, what we are eating now and what we will eat tomorrow,” he told L’Express about the French food obsession.

Yet people’s growing fear of what they eat, either due to concerns over allergies, dietary restrictions or recent food quality scandals have put the French model under threat.

“If our way of eating disappeared, Anglos would be the first to get upset,” he said. “In order to protect the cultural exception that is our cuisine, we must, without sinking to alarmism, be very, very vigilant.”

The chef said the best way to protect France’s culinary heritage is to not lose sight of the fundamentals: the quality of the products, correct cooking and seasoning and a willingness to allow oneself to experience pleasure while eating.

However, Ducasse does recognize the world of food is changing and even admitted the importance of a North American trend.

“We are working more and more under the pressure of clients who are ‘locavores’, which is the name given to an American-born trend that consists of eating only products grown or raised within several hundred kilometres,” he said.

“This new concern compels us to take our responsibilities seriously regarding the limited resources of our planet and the environmental impact of our materials," Ducasse says.

Ducasse’s words come as the French way is under assault in kitchens and restaurants across the country.

“In the land of gastronomy, fast food has become the king,” wrote French magazine Le Point in 2013,  when news broke that sales at fast food outlets had for the first time outperformed traditional sit-down restaurants.

With €34 billion in sales, that figure represents 54 percent of the market and reveals a huge jump compared to 2011 when purchases of burgers, hot dogs and pizzas represented 40 percent of the overall market.

More bad news for traditional French food came earlier this year when a study showed one out of every two sandwiches sold in the country in 2012 was a burger, up from one in nine in 2000.

Though perhaps in a sign of a cultural shift, but perhaps not a complete meltdown of the country’s reverence for the sit-down meal, sit-down restaurants accounted for a quarter of the 970 million burgers sold in the country last year.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Jean Jaures: France pays hommage 100 years on
Francois Hollande takes a coffee in Cafe du Crossaint where Jean Jaures was assassinated 100 years ago. Photo: Yoan Valat/Pool/AFP

Jean Jaures: France pays hommage 100 years on

On Thursday France paid tribute to one of its greatest political leaders who was assassinated in a Paris café exactly 100 years ago. Politicians on the left and the right are still fighting over the legacy of leftist hero Jean Jaures. READ  

Gaza crisis
Paris set for pro-Israel demo amid tight security
Up to 6,000 pro-Israel protesters march through Marseille. Paris will see its own pro-Israel march take place on Thursday. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP.

Paris set for pro-Israel demo amid tight security

France’s main Jewish organization has appealed to all the “friends of Israel” to turn out for a rally outside the Israeli embassy in Paris on Thursday. High security is expected after weeks of pro-Palestinians marches that ended violently. READ  

Air Algérie crash: To ID victims 'may take years'
It may take years to identify the remains of the passengers killed in the Air Algérie crash. Photo: Sia Kambou/AFP

Air Algérie crash: To ID victims 'may take years'

Identifying the remains of the 118 people killed last week when an Air Algérie flight crashed in Mali, including 54 French nationals, could take "months and maybe years," an Algerian police official said on Thursday. READ  

Air France tests unusual luggage check-in system
Air France will let some passengers skip bringing their bags to their airport this weekend. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

Air France tests unusual luggage check-in system

Scores of passengers flying on Air France this weekend won’t need to bring their bags to the airport if they don’t want to. As part of a pilot programme they can instead check their luggage in central Paris and then proceed to Charles de Gaulle empty-handed. READ  

French hospital opens wine bar for patients
The wine bar will be open to patients and their friends and relatives. Wine bar photo: Shutterstock

French hospital opens wine bar for patients

A hospital in south-central France has come up with an unconventional (not to mention extremely French) idea to try to improve the lives of terminally ill patients. It has opened up a wine bar that will offer "medically supervised" wine tasting. READ  

'The French among the world's stingiest tippers'
Are the French stingy tippers? Photo of a bill: Shutterstock

'The French among the world's stingiest tippers'

The French have never been big on tipping, but according to a new survey they increasingly pay what they owe and not a penny more. An expert has an interesting explanation, which has nothing to do with the French being cheap. READ  

French ballerinas offer lessons in Fukushima
French ballet dancer Dorothree Gilbert (R) of the Paris Opera giving a lesson to Japanese children in Fukushima. Photo: Antoine Bouthier/AFP

French ballerinas offer lessons in Fukushima

A group of French ballet stars from the renowned Paris Opera donned tutus and tights in the shadow of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and twirled their way into the hearts of local students. READ  

'Exorbitant' estate agency fees capped by new law
France is finally capping the fees real estate agencies can charge renters. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

'Exorbitant' estate agency fees capped by new law

Starting in September France is finally going to cap the sometimes outrageous ‘agency fees’ renters have to pay when signing the lease for a new apartment. It will mean paying less for some, but not all French ‘locataires’. READ  

France condemns Israeli shelling of Gaza school
France has condemned the deadly shelling of a UN school in Gaza by Israel. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP

France condemns Israeli shelling of Gaza school

France's president condemned the Israeli shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that killed 16 people who had sought refuge there. It was the second time this week Israeli artillerie hit a UN school in Gaza. READ  

Facebook: Dad hits baby, posts photo of injuries
Facebook photo: Shutterstock

Facebook: Dad hits baby, posts photo of injuries

Parents of a one-month-old baby in France have been brought up on abuse charges after hitting their child because he wouldn't stop crying and then posting photos on Facebook of the beaten infant "for fun." READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Nudity on the beaches of France: Dos and don'ts
National
Hospital opens patient wine bar with 'medically supervised' wine tasting
Society
Will France ban this violent Jewish fringe group?
Culture
Why are the days of going topless in France coming to an end?
Travel
Reckless or adventurous? US dad takes his two children up Mont Blanc
National
From manure to money: Ten bizarre facts about the French Parliament
Culture
Tourists picnic with rats in Louvre gardens
International
Is France really Europe's biggest public spenders?
National
Could your job in France soon be done by a robot?
National
Why you should think twice about feeding stray cats in France
National
And the new redrawn map of France will look like...?
Politics
Is French President François Hollande about to tie the knot?
International
Want a long-term visa? You may soon have to take a French test
International
Votes for foreigners: 'France would be giving up its sovereignty'
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se