As many of us look forward to the kick off of Euro 2016 this weekend, my mind turns to food …again! The French have had an enormous influence on British food – I only have to whisper Escoffier or the Roux Brothers to get many a foodie’s head nodding in agreement, but what other gastronomic influences have they had? Here’s just a few…
Well, they gave us the term ‘restaurant’ which is a good start. The term means to restore and was used to describe a rich, highly flavoured soup thought capable of restoring lost strength.
They made us write our menus in French for a while, which I’ve always found a tad pretentious! However they did give us the word ‘menu’, so that bit is ok.
If the style of cooking was French haute cuisine, then the dishes would also be French in name were written in French. Thankfully these days we Brits have more confidence to cook our own regional food! The rebellion got the Royal seal of approval during London’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Buckingham Palace was well known for its French menu writing, but when the Queen hosted a banquet for the members of the International Olympic Committee, the banquet menus were in English.
They invented – this appeared in our restaurants in the 1970s and was the antithesis of the heavy, flour-based sauces that predominated earlier times. While it has since become a much-maligned term, this minimalistic style of cooking had many positive spin-offs. For one it increased awareness of presentation, and brought food and eating out to the media’s attention. Enter la critique de restaurant!