20 amazing facts about food and drink in France
It’s the book they’re calling a ‘gastronomic sensation’.
Let’s Eat France, by Francois-Regis Gaudry, contains information on 1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics and 260 gastronomic personalities. It has hundreds of maps, charts, tricks, tips and anecdotes.
And plenty of quirky facts. Here MailOnline Travel presents 20 fascinating facts and about food and drink in France revealed by the frankly astonishing tome.
The Michelin Guide was first published in 1900. A team of inspectors was established in the 1930s. They always remain anonymous. They only introduce themselves after they’ve paid the bill. That’s how they end their visit.
Brie-lliant: The origin of Camembert can be traced back to 1791, when a priest from a certain other cheese-making area divulged its secrets
27 per cent – is the average price increase for a meal after obtaining a star.
20 per cent – is the increase in guests to an establishment after being awarded its first star.
The origin of fries can be traced to 18th century Burgundy. Let’s Eat France says: ‘On December 23, 1760, in the Burgundian monastery of Perrecy-les-Forges, the Abbot des Brosses attempted to poison Brother Hilarion with arsenic. The trial records mention ‘several fried potatoes’ and a ‘white powder’ in the brother’s bowl. A few years later, the first recipes for fried potatoes were published in Paris.’
The Mimosa was created in 1925 in the Ritz Hotel, Paris, by barman Fran Meier. He named it after the brightest colour in the garden of the hotel – the mimosa.
The pressure cooker can be traced back to the invention of the ‘steam digester’ in 1679 by Denis Papin. It as a thick iron cooking pot with a safety valve. Pressure created inside was blocked by a lid and crossbar.
The Camembert box was invented in 1890 by Eugene Ridel. He developed a poplar scroll that he then stapled. The box transformed the marketing of the cheese because it because easier to transport by train.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Paris had a terrible reputation for dining. English writer Tobias Smollett said in 1763: ‘The bedrooms [of French inns] are generally cold and comfortless, the beds narrow, the cuisine execrable, the wine poisonous, the service bad, the patrons insolent. And the bbill is highway robbery.’
The origin of fries can be traced to 18th century Burgundy
There are 1,045,014 bubbles in a bottle of Champagne.
France exports 2.6 billion euros-worth of Champagne a year.
Several French chefs have made it big in the U.S, including Rene Verdon who was hired into the White House by the Kennedys in 1961. Let’s Eat France says that he departed under the presidency of Lyndon B Johnson, ‘who was not very fond of his talent’. In 1972 his restaurant Trianon in San Franciso became a hit. Daniel Boulud has also done well. His Daniel restaurant in New York has three Michelin stars. And Frank Sinatra loved the cooking of Henri Soule. He opened Le Pavilion in New York in 1942 and then La Cote Basque. His most popular dish? Pike dumplings.
The word ‘terroir’ can be traced back to the 13th century to designate the territory of a village. In the 17th and 18th centuries it became synonymous with ‘soil’.
There are some bizarre ‘brotherhoods of French gastronomy’, including The Brotherhood Of The Knights Of Camembert, the Brotherhood Of Frog-Thigh Eaters and the Brotherhood Of The Voutezac Peach Tasters. And let’s not forget the Brotherhood Of The Admirers Of The Marennes-Oleron Oysters.
Let’s Eat France (Artisan Books, £36), by Francois-Regis Gaudry, contains information on 1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics and 260 gastronomic personalities. It has hundreds of maps, charts, tricks, tips and anecdotes
Let’s Eat France was written by Francois-Regis Gaudry, pictured
The origin of Camembert can be traced back to 1791, when a priest from Brie took refuge at a farm overlooking the village of Camembert and told the secrets of his region’s cheese to a young Marie Harel, who lived there.
The world’s biggest producer of garlic is actually China, which grows 23 million tonnes a year, compared to France’s 20,000 tonnes.
The croissant can be traced all the way back to antiquity, when the Egyptians offered crescent-shaped breads to their goddesses. The shaped symbolised the moon and its phases.
Bordeaux wines first reached English shores in the 12th century.
A single bottle of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild can be worth around 10,000 euros, if you buy a classic vintage such as the 1945.
In 1976 a blind tasting of the 10 best French and 10 best American wines took place in the InterContinental Hotel in Paris. All the judges were French. The U.S won. Its Chateau Montelena 1973 won the white contest and its Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 won the red competition.
There is a Camembert museum in Vimoutiers that contains 1,400 Camembert boxes.
Extracted from Let’s Eat France by François-Régis Gaudry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018.