petite anglaise

September 7, 2004

curry cravings

Filed under: miam, missing blighty — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:51 am

Walking past the ‘Le Gange’ restaurant this morning on the way to drop off Tadpole at childminder’s, I was overcome by a sudden craving for an ‘English style’ curry. I won’t say an ‘authentic’ curry, because I’ve never been to India or Pakistan and doubt whether what passes for a curry in the UK bears any ressemblence to what the natives eat. I suspect not. But it definitely beats the dishwater one is served on this side of the Channel.

If you order a dish claiming to be ‘au curry’ in a French restaurant, be prepared for a non-descript, creamy sauce to which a teaspoonful of curry powder has been added. The curryhouses of Paris – few and far between as different immigration patterns mean that North African couscous emporiums outnumber them 50 to 1 – are little better. I know because I tried them all in the final weeks of my pregnancy. The helpful midwife suggested sex, exercise, nipple tweaking and spicy food as strategies to force my overdue Tadpole out into the world. Not being able to face options 1 and 2 at that stage, I became acquainted with every takeaway in the city of lights and ate curry morning, noon and night for a week. The Tadpole was unimpressed.

Following this extensive research I can report that:

¤Chicken curry in France tends to contain ‘dark meat’ and bones. Not a nice bit of breast like in the UK. The bones are so small that you have to wonder whether the chicken was underage, or face up to the possibility that you are eating a pigeon or rodent.

¤It is very rare to get anything ‘correctly’ spiced. Despite trying a wide variety of dishes which claimed to be ‘hot’ I never once tasted a curry which lived up to this description. Or that had any depth of flavour. I’m no Madhur Jaffrey, but I remain sceptical as to whether fresh spices ground in a pestle and mortar were involved at any stage in the proceedings.

¤You can’t get a peshwari nan for love nor money. Flavours are plain, cheese (with some sort of dairylea in it, yuck) or meat flavour.

Incidentally, Le Gange claims to offer both Indian and Pakistani specialities. That strikes me as a bit odd. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the two countries were not the best of friends?

In case you were wondering, I did also try the tweaking. It did not have the desired effect either, but it kept me occupied.


  1. There was a time, before 1948, when India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were all part of one country. Then the British left, and there was a partition along religious lines. So there.

    Comment by scaryduck — September 23, 2004 @ 12:53 pm

  2. Thank you Mr Duck, that was illuminating. I should have paid more attention in history lessons.

    Comment by petite anglaise — September 23, 2004 @ 12:53 pm

  3. I feel your pain.

    Comment by Vit — September 23, 2004 @ 12:53 pm

  4. I already dread the day I’ll have to go back home, leaving behind all those lovely peshwary nans and chicken vindaloos. Definitely a gastronomical awakening [not sure about the spelling, there…]

    Comment by Emilie [mimile] — September 23, 2004 @ 12:54 pm

  5. You can’t get properly spiced food here in Wild West Montana either. The Chinese food mostly tastes like Chung King out of a can. As for curry, they’ve never heard of it. Meat, gravy and potatoes wrapped in a pie shell–pasties–is the favorite food.

    Comment by Emily — September 23, 2004 @ 12:54 pm

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