petite anglaise

October 4, 2004

feeding time

Filed under: miam — petiteanglaise @ 10:57 am

I had some guests over from England this weekend. As usual, deciding what/where to eat became a thorny issue. France being renowned for its gastronomic delights, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it should be easy to keep guests fed and watered. Not so in the case of most of my guests I’m afraid.

Take this weekend, for example. Our visitors were down to earth Yorkshire folk who like plain cooking: nothing spicy, no garlic, meat burned to a crisp. The type of people who when they go on holiday prefer to play it safe by eating at restaurants serving only English food. Oh, and they don’t like cheese. Sacrilege in a country producing over 350 different regional cheeses

After much agonising over a choice of venue, we went to a wine bar I like at Châtelet (only to discover my guests could only tolerate lager) and I instructed the waiter to please cremate their steaks until they were black and not a single drop of blood could conceivably be wrung out of them. I winked conspiratorially and asked him to apologise to the chef, as I’m sure this was against everything he stood for. For once my request was taken seriously: the meat was still pink, but I didn’t have to send it back to the kitchen for extra cooking. I held back (with difficulty) from ordering an assortment of cheeses for myself with a glass of red. I suspected the aroma might offend.

My sisters and several of my friends in the UK are, quite unhelpfully, vegetarians. A dirty word as far as most French people are concerned. My own brief flirtation with vegetarianism in my teens ended during a visit to a French pen friend. There are a few whole food/organic/veggie type cafés in Paris, but most French restaurants don’t have a single vegetarian option on the menu. I took one veggie friend to a lovely bistrot in my neighbourhood only to discover that they wouldn’t even cook her an omelette. She ended up eating some boiled vegetables in stock – all the while eyeing up fellow diners’ plates nervously. At the next table someone had ordered a steak tartare (raw minced steak with raw egg poured over it) and even my fish arrived with its head on and bulbous staring eyes, which didn’t help matters.

So on the whole I tend to dread taking Brits out to dinner. Can you blame me?

petite anglaise wrote this post whilst polishing off one packet of Walkers roast lamb and mint sauce flavoured crisps, followed by one packet of Walkers roast beef and yorkshire pudding flavour crisps. Bliss.

13 Comments

  1. Call themselves a restaurant? Didn’t they have any ‘cow heel pie’, ‘tripe-barnoldswick’ or ‘offal surprise’ to make those Yorkies feel right at home?

    Comment by alfie — October 4, 2004 @ 12:43 pm

  2. doesn’t surprise me at all. I once had a visiting friend who insisted she WOULD eat anything we put in front of her and wasn’t going to be all fussy. We went to a FISH restaurant. To everything on the menu she asked “has this one got bones in?”

    I must order my ma to send me some roast lamb and mint sauce crisps. blooming YUM!

    Comment by madge — October 4, 2004 @ 12:46 pm

  3. Most of the crisps here are chutney flavoured. They are horrid. I miss Walker’s posh chilli crisps.

    Comment by Claypot — October 4, 2004 @ 1:40 pm

  4. Thank god not all Brits are like that. 9 years on, my best friend still regularly reminds me through clenched teeth of the time when I asked my mum (who was visiting and making us dinner) to cook her steak until it was a charred mess, ignorantly assuming that the hatred of any pink in meat was a national trait that knew no exception. Still she harbours some resentment for her ruined steak. I’m so proud of her.

    Comment by céline — October 4, 2004 @ 2:59 pm

  5. when i have vegetarian visitors i either get ansh in to cook us a vegetarian curry or we eat at a non-belgian restaurant as there are very few vegetarian restaurants that i know of.

    Q has tried steak tartare – or ‘américan’ as it’s called here – but given the option will eat something else. i think it’s divine, myself.

    Comment by zed — October 4, 2004 @ 3:49 pm

  6. I’ve always wanted to try steak tartare (sans oeuf) just never got as far as being brave enough to order it … my personal rule is if I’ve ordered it, I have to eat it ALL (something I regret quite regularly) …

    Comment by madge — October 4, 2004 @ 3:56 pm

  7. I quite like steak tartare too, but you have to get it from a decent restaurant if you don’t want an aller retour

    Comment by petite anglaise — October 4, 2004 @ 4:20 pm

  8. Hey cm’on now, you can’t just throw in those last few lines without further details. Like HOW did you get those new flavoured crisps (note – not sheeeps !) … ah, I just got it. They were imported by your visiters weren’t they.
    I was starting to feel very deprived. Not many things reach us down here in Toulouse !!
    Hairy.

    Comment by Hairy — October 5, 2004 @ 8:24 am

  9. Steak Americain? I shudder at the memory zed.

    Comment by Ms Jones — October 5, 2004 @ 11:49 am

  10. The last time I had the raw egg I did regret it imensely during the next day/night… beware!

    Comment by Cal — October 5, 2004 @ 9:33 pm

  11. I think I’ve been quite adventurous when dining out here, but I just can’t wrap my brain around eating raw food. Considering I’ve been here a month and my digestive tract is still getting used to cooked food, I’m absolutely gonna have to wait for a bit for that. On a side note, it’s my hubby that always wants to go to MacDoo or Quick, not me!!!

    Comment by ViVi — October 6, 2004 @ 10:22 am

  12. I’m afraid I’m one of the ‘burn it then cook it again’ mob, I don’t like my food just being shown to the cooker. A 12oz steak should come as a 1cm x 1cm block of black to be chewed for an hour. Although I am getting more adventurous – I once had tartare sauce with my steak – can I join the club?

    Oh and I work for a cheese distributor too so can hold my own there.

    Comment by Watski — October 6, 2004 @ 3:19 pm

  13. Walkers Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Crisps are, strangely, vegetarian. Moi aussi.

    Comment by Raised By Chaffinches — October 7, 2004 @ 6:12 pm


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