A farcical notion has emerged from France The French president Nckolas Sarkozy wants la cuisine française to be listed by Unesco, the UN agency, as part of the world’s cultural heritage. Now I do agree that they have contributed a large amount to world cuisine over the last couple of hundred years with great chefs like Escoffier inventing some of the great culinary dishes that we now take for granted. The French have not only contributed fantastic dishes but they also have also pioneered ways of producing ingredients that have raised the bar around the world. Just take fois gras for example, a standard in any fine dining restaurant around the world and 100% French in its history, current production methods and probably in the way it is served.
Nobody is doubting that the French have contributed so much to the food we eat today and the way it is prepared but to grant them protection under Unesco is a silly idea. I see it as a problem for the French themselves on two different fronts...
1.They are basically admitting that the food they have created is of great historical importance which means that it won't evolve as it has done. If you set very rigid ways of producing food into laws then you lose the reason it reached that level in the first place which was constant tinkering and evolution to ensure we ended up with the best product available after trial and error.
2.The French have been fighting a losing battle for 10 years now to remain as the most exciting and innovative country with regard to food and by signing up to this they have effectively lost the battle. New countries around the world are taking up the mantle and producing innovative food just as the French used to and they are not looking for any certification, quite simply the proof is in the pudding!
This sounds like a call to voters rather than sensible policy to me and I am sure that the arrogant French will lap this up and Sarkozy will gain the additional popularity he craves. I just think you should let the food do the talking rather than have some bigwig 1000s miles away certify food that we already know is amazing by quite simply placing it into our mouths!
Monday, February 25, 2008