I was watching Zone Interdite on M6 last night on a new trend in French eating habits, 'le fooding', a contraction of 'food' and 'feeling' and I'm sure the Academie Française will have a few pointed remarks to make about it, and maybe come up with a true blue French alternative ('nourrituration', 'sensations nutritionelles', 'bouf-bé'...).
Alexandre Cammas, the journalist who came up with the term, is trying to rejouvenate French eating habits by organising public tastings with some of the top chefs. This is going on mainly in Paris, but should spread down the country slowly but surely if it's got a sound basis for survival outside the rarified gastronomic climes of the capital. Cammas is trying to inject the idea of fun into cooking and eating, getting away from the stultifying traditional dishes to create original alternatives. One example I saw was a chef who mixed raw oysters until they turned into oyster froth, and sat it upon a chunk of grapefruit. It seemed to go down pretty well at the party where he was doing the catering.
In conjunction with an ever-contracting lunch break, Parisien workers are being offered alternative fast food joints such as BE - Boulangépicier a superior sarnie joint, a salad bar called Jour where you can pick and mix from a terrific array of ingredients to form your own bowl of salad, and Paul another sarnie place. They look absolutely scrumptious, and prices were pretty reasonable. Maybe they should consider coming down south... we have much nicer weather than Paris... They could also propose a delivery service, or come round in the morning to offices with a basket of goodies to buy for lunch. A friend of mine did that in south London 15yrs ago, 'Tiffins', she called it, and was a huge success. She now runs a pub in Newland, Gloucs; The Ostrich Inn where she makes her own sloe gin. Yum!
A quick plug for a merry website set up by Patrick Cadour who lives in Brittany. He writes about some of the militant foodies who want a return to the dishes of the past, where food wasn't messed about with spices and sauces, ingredients were local and it was all ever so much better and tastier. He suspects this movement is connected to xenophobism and a syndrome of excessive security which provokes a desire to withdraw into local/regional/national identity. He also offers some delicious recipies with accompanying historical chitchat.
Lastly, it seems the days of the dining room are counted in French homes. Kitchens are becoming open-plan, convivial places where all the family congregates and friends, when invited for dinner, hang out there while the hostess cooks. This casual approach promotes a much better atmosphere - friendlier, less stuffy and formal. I'm glad I seem to be right up there in the latest trends!