Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #7 – Au Revoir to all That (Food, Wine, and the End of France) by Michael Steinberger
I drink a lot of wine, and on occasion I even read articles about it. Michael Steinberger was the wine writer for Slate until last year, and I always enjoyed his columns, even when I didn’t agree with him. One thing we do agree on is how much we love France – especially its food and wine. However, France’s star has been declining lately, not just financially (I mean, who isn’t, at this point), but culinarily as well. Quelle surprise!
Steinberger analyzes how, where, and why things have gone wrong. France has always been the paragon, the zenith, the ne plus ultra of food and wine. But like the rest of the world, France is in a financial, political and social crisis – and if people don’t have money, they’re not eating out. If they’re not eating out, restaurants go out of business.
For decades, the ideal was the Michelin rating system. Steinberger delves into how les etoiles of Michelin can both make a restaurant and its chef, and break them as well. Chefs have committed suicide over the potential loss of a star. But the Michelin system was mired in the old ways, and didn’t reward innovation. It has gotten to the point that some chefs (Marco Pierre White among them) have turned their backs on the system, and given back their stars. Other chefs are accepting their stars, but not going crazy over how many they have. There has been something of a return to basics, while also embracing some of the innovation that has been taking place around the world.
There is too much in this book to describe, but if you have any love of food, wine, France, cheese, food, wine. . . . Well, you get what I mean. While to book is nonfiction, it reads like a novel about the decline, fall, and possible rise of French cuisine. I would recommend it to anyone who eats.