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French Food Quotes

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“It is ironic that Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who defined French cooking for several generations, did so in London after moving there in 1890....His 1903 book 'Le guide culinaire' became the professional cook's textbook, explaining French cuisine for the next seventy years.”
Mark Kurlansky, 'Choice Cuts' (2002)

“In the 20th century, the French managed to get a death on the myth that they produce the world's best food. The hype has been carefully orchestrated, and despite the fact that the most popular food in the last quarter has undoubtedly been Italian, the French have managed to maintain that mental grip.”

Clarissa Dickson Wright, 'Food' (1999)

Escargot - "Nobody is sure how this got started. Probably a couple of French master chefs were standing around one day, and they found a snail, and one of them said: 'I bet that if we called this something like "escargot," tourists would eat it.' They they had a hearty laugh, because 'escargot' is the French word for 'fat crawling bag of phlegm.'"
Dave Barry, 'Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need' (1991)

“Nouvelle cuisine was so specifically French that it was, and still is, misunderstood in the rest of the world. You have to be dominated by Escoffier before rejecting him becomes meaningful.”
Mark Kurlansky, 'Choice Cuts' (2002)

“Even the coeur flottant merveilleux aux fraises, presented with a great flourish, made little impression, for it was no more than what may happen to the simple, honest dish of strawberries and cream once it falls into the hands of a Frenchman.”
Dr. Watson in 'Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara' by Alan Vanneman (2004)

“We then spent the next three hours consuming a meal of grotesque opulence. Despite my service under General Cathgart, I had never before borne the full weight of haute cuisine. Each dish was more fantastical than the last. One can only conclude that it is the special purpose of French cookery to dissolve the entire substance of a dish into polish, so that no trace of the primeval beef, pork, or chicken remains, converting the whole into a sort of puree raisonne that can then be shaped and reshaped by an abstract and extravagant fancy far closer to architecture than cookery, a fancy whose sole intent is to remove from its creations all taint of the hearth and kitchen, not to mention pasture and field.”
Dr. Watson in 'Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara' by Alan Vanneman (2004)

" ignorant and pretentious bunch try to improve on what is already the finest..... The improviser sets himself up at the stove just as he does anywhere else. With his eyes turned to heaven instead of on his saucepans, he drops in a pinch of curry powder here, a spoonful of brandy there, and somewhere else, something even worse - a few drops of custard! He uses any old stuffing, he dribbles in some frightful additive. . .. Old words, classic terms, and traditions are all flouted by these priests of improvisation - it seems that we are a long way removed from the discreet combinations of flavors, thought out at length, that were once the basis of French gourmandise. . . ."
Colette (Sidonie Gabrielle), French novelist
Prisons et paradis, Hachette, 1933

"If I had magic powers, I should like to wave my golden fork over the confined cookery of Europe and enlarge it to infinity; I would like to . . . offer French nationality to the many hardly known but delicious foreign dishes; ...I would like to put the whole of natural history on the spit, in stews, in fricassees, in court-bouillon, in grills,..... "
Fulbert-Dumonteil (Jean Camille) 1831-1912
French writer.

"In the state of society in which we now find ourselves, it is difficult to imagine a nation which lived solely on bread and vegetables."
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)

"Light, refined, learned and noble, harmonious and orderly, clear and logical, the cooking of France is, in some strange manner, intimately linked to the genius of her greatest men."
Rouff [Marcel] (1887-1936)
French journalist and writer

"Bouillabaisse is only good because cooked by the French, who, if they cared to try, could produce an excellent and nutritious substitute out of cigar stumps and empty matchboxes."
Norman Douglas, British novelist (1868-1952)

"The French approach to food is characteristic; they bring to their consideration of the table the same appreciation, respect, intelligence and lively interest that they have for the other arts, for painting, for literature, and for the theatre. We foreigners living in France respect and appreciate this point of view but deplore their too strict observance of a tradition which will not admit the slightest deviation in a seasoning or the suppression of a single ingredient. Restrictions aroused our American ingenuity, we found combinations and replacements which pointed in new directions and created a fresh and absorbing interest in everything pertaining to the kitchen."
Alice B. Toklas

"A good dinner is a rare thing today. Gastronomy is like poetry: it has fallen into a complete decadence...
The causes of this decadence are well known: thoughtlessness, fatuity, overweening ambition are only small and ordinary sins; the most complete self-abandonment, the absence of convictions, greed, these are what have troubled the limpid sources from which gastronomic delights should flow with an enchanted murmur.   
The present generation eats and knows not how to eat . . . It is the enemy of that grande cuisine which was France's glory. The chefs are the cause of this indifference which is blamed on us. They have muddled everything, spoilt everything, exhausted everything."

Courrier de Paris, 3/27/1858
(As quoted in Larousse Gastronomique, 1961)

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French Food Quotes