Thursday, April 16, 2009
Pizza: the new national dish of France
Think French cuisine and immediately you conjure images of confit du canard, a juicy entrecote steak, foie gras, croissants and cassoulet.
Certainly, French cuisine is one of the proudest gastronomies in the world. France is the home of haute cuisine, the crucible of fine dining, the last word in elegance when it comes to the lionising and preparing of foodstuffs.
Indeed, you only need to engage the average French person for two minutes on the subject of food and you realise how food - its preparation and consumption - is a national obssession in France. Shopkeepers will wax lyrical about the artisanal origins of a wheel of cheese or the firmness of a melon. French people from all walks of life will have an opinion on the best wine to drink with a 'souris' of lamb. And time (glorious time) is taken over the eating of every meal.
How to reconcile this then with the news this week that France is the world's second biggest per capita pizza consumer - just behind the United States and well ahead of Italy?
As La Tribune newspaper this week reported, the pizza business is booming in France, helped along by the recession as people look for something cheap and easy to eat.
Domino's Pizza in France (coincidentally run by an Aussie friend of mine) is the biggest pizza chain in the country. It saw sales rise by 12 percent last year.
According to a report by The Times correspondent, Charles Bremner, every person in France now eats an average of 45 pizzas per year. That's almost one a week.
There's no doubt at all France produces a stunning array of foodstuffs - and its cuisine has contributed more than it's fair share to the global melting pot of national gastronomies. But the next time a French person makes a snide comment at eating habits in your home country, remind them that 'la pepperoni et cheese' is fast becoming the French national dish.