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October 27, 2006

Un Anglais du même avis que le président Chirac! La cuisine en Angleterre est toujours mauvaise

Posted by Digby Anderson

The English at Table
by Digby Anderson
London: Social Affairs Unit, 2006
Hardback, £16.99

La cuisine en Angleterre, dit-on régulièrement chez eux, a changé pour le mieux. Ce n'est pas vrai selon l'étude éditée aujourd'hui «Les Anglais à table». Elle révèle ce que l'on mange à la maison, dans les restaurants, les hôpitaux, les écoles, les aéroports, les avions et même sur la plage et dans la rue. Conclusion: c'est affreux.

Oui, la cuisine a changé. Avant elle était fade et limitée, mais au moins il y avait bon nombre de boucheries et poissonneries qui vendaient les produits de leur région, et où les femmes de ménage faisaient leurs courses pour préparer les trois repas quotidiens que les membres de la famille partageaient ensemble, assis autour d'une bonne table.

Maintenant il est possible d'acheter d'avantage d'ingrédients exotiques et il y a quelques bons restaurants, mais peu nombreux et très chers. Mais à côté de ça, on peut acheter viandes, fromages, légumes de deuxième qualité issus de l'industrie, les plats à emporter de troisième qualité, les « fast food » et autres formules « indiens » ou « chinois ». La famille elle-même, si essentielle à l'approvisionnement de la bonne cuisine et à son enseignement, s'est écroulée. Les familles ne mangent plus ensemble et ne mangent plus à table.

Les Anglais d'aujourd'hui rejettent les bons mets et les gaspillent.
Les végétariens rejettent des classes entières de mets qui étaient pourtant autrefois appréciés des civilisations plus sages. Les écologistes font de la gastronomie une cause politique sotte. La réglementation au nom de la santé et de la sécurité étouffe la bonne cuisine. Le pire est le refus quotidien de fournir l'effort nécessaire pour préparer de bons repas, la détermination à faire de la cuisine une façon de se vanter, et la poursuite sans remords de l'innovation et des nouveautés. Les anciennes mauvaises habitudes existent toujours à côté des nouvelles. Il y a toujours le rejet de bon nombre d'ingrédients ou de recettes pour de mauvaises raisons, par exemple la délicatesse, la peur du méconnu, le désir de faire de la cuisine un spectacle.

Il ne faut pas chercher la faute de tout ceci chez les industriels, ni condamner la pauvreté, ni chercher une « désertification culinaire ». La faute se trouve dans la culture culinaire elle-même en Angleterre, c'est-à-dire dans la façon de la concevoir, d'écrire à son sujet et de la mettre en pratique. Le coupable est le cuisinier et le dîneur moyen anglais qui est ignorant, paresseux, difficile et infatué.

Digby Anderson is the author of The English at Table. He has been a food columnist for The Spectator and National Review. He has also written about food for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, and New York Times. Digby Anderson also served as Director of the Social Affairs Unit from 1980 to February 2004.


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English food is widely claimed to have changed for the better. "Nonsense" says a survey published today by the Social Affairs Unit. The English at Table ranges from what is eaten in homes, restaurants, hospitals, schools, airports, planes to that on beaches and pavements. Most is "awful", finds the survey's author Digby Anderson.

The former English food was dull and insular, but at least there was an abundance of butchers and fishmongers with locally produced food and English women shopped at them and cooked thrice daily meals which their families sat down together to eat.

Now, there are more exotic ingredients in the shops and a few good, expensive restaurants but also a deluge of second rate industrial cheeses, meats and vegetables and third rate take-aways, fast food outlets and formulaic "Indians" and "Chinese". And the institution of the family, vital to the provision of good food and the passing on of knowledge about it, has collapsed. Families don't eat together or off tables.

The English reject and waste good food
Vegetarians reject whole classes of foods prized by wiser civilizations, healthists reduce food to a mere tool in the pursuit of a few more years of miserable life on earth, environmentalists subject good eating to their dotty political cause, health safety lobbyists stifle good food with their regulations. Worst, is the refusal to make the daily effort necessary for good meals, the turning of eating into an excuse for showing off and the relentless pursuit of novelty and celebrity. Old bad traits coexist with these new ones, the rejection of large numbers of ingredients or dishes on one spurious ground or another, squeamishness and insipidity, the fear of the unfamiliar, food treated as a special occasion.

The fault lies not with the often blamed food industry, let alone with poverty or "food deserts" but with the culture of food in England, the way it is thought about, written about in the media and practised. The culprit is the ordinary English cook and diner, who is ignorant, lazy, fastidious and exhibitionist.

Digby Anderson, author of The English at Table.

Posted by: Digby Anderson at October 27, 2006 01:32 PM
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Can someone please explain to me why this is in French?

Posted by: Joanna at October 27, 2006 03:13 PM
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Well yes. There are always more ignorant idlers than enthusiasts,
just as there are always more fools than custards, whether they know it or not.
The origin of this paucity lies in the fact that the British Isles have had to import a large proportion of their nuttrition for a long time, and that the two world wars and their accompanying rationing resulted in:
a) the concentraiton of market dominance int he hands of a small number of importing and distributing organisations;
b) the predominance of pre-packaged foodstuffs and the generalisation of office and factory hours of employment has annihilated the general acquisition of the time and knowledge of how to cook real food as opposed to prepacked portions of plasticised pabulum.

There is no blame to be apportionedhere - simply, good food and the knowledge of how to prepare it was one of the things that Great Birtain sacrificed in order to provent the dominance of Europe by totalitarian government.

Unfortunately, we are no longer in a postion tio prevent the predominance of bureaucratic administrations that ignore the existence of the individual and the individual's culture; we sacrificed these with all the rest.

Posted by: WRMaxwell at October 28, 2006 12:59 PM
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Dear Mr. Anderson,

Several years ago in the library of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, I witnessed a man attack your ideas and your book, Gentility Recalled, in a most uncivilised and rude manner. Which of course, considering your topic was most amusing to my husband and I. However, in return you were remarkably civil to the man and flattened in him such a well-educated and mannered way the poor slob had no idea he had been flattened.

I also recall an article you wrote years ago for National Review where you said no one would think of dressing iceberg lettuce with olive oil and then explained the reasons why. Yet, last night we were at a party in a limestone castle circa 2004 where I believe our hostess did just that...

Please, start going for the jugular. The English table has fallen apart because English women have fallen apart. They want to be bishops more than housewives. A former Empire is counting on you Mr. Anderson...

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at October 29, 2006 02:27 PM
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